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Statement of the Surgeon General on the President’s Action on Opioids

Thursday, October 26, 2017
Contact: OASH Press Office
(202) 205-0143

Addiction is a chronic disease that requires a coordinated effort. We have developed a robust response to the opioids crisis, but sadly, based on current evidence, overdoses are continuing. We must look for strategies to address opioid addiction effectively and look for opportunities to prevent drug use, overdose, infectious disease, and more fully leverage all of our public health, business, law enforcement, and community resources to address these issues head on. By identifying the diverse partners that are involved in the opioid response, and working to ensure that efforts are known and supported by all of those who play a role, we will build better health through better partnerships.

The President's action today will mobilize his entire Administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse by directing the declaration of a nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioids crisis.

Addiction is a complex disease with many faces. No one man, no one woman, and no one organization can defeat it alone. I hope every American will join us to work together to end addiction before it starts.

Additional Background:

The mission of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is to optimize the nation's investment in health and science to advance health equity and improve the health of all people. OASH oversees core public health offices — including the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. Some examples of how OASH is working to implement the HHS 5-point strategy for fighting the opioids crisis, include:

  • The Office of the Surgeon General has taken a lead role in the response. For example, members of the Commissioned Corps provided direct technical assistance and support on the ground during the Scott County, Indiana, HIV outbreak.
  • Last month, the Office of Minority Health awarded $5 million in new cooperative agreements to help communities address the opioid crisis, childhood obesity and serious mental illness through the Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative.
  • This summer, the Office on Women’s Health awarded grants to 16 cities to address primary and secondary prevention of prescription and illegal opioid misuse by women across the lifespan.
  • In collaboration, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy and the Office on Women’s Health will support a National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine workshop focusing on ways to work efficiently though the existing systems that reach people at increased risk for either opioid use disorder and/or infectious diseases.
  • In cooperation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Defense, HHS -- within OASH -- is leading the formation of a new Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force.
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Content created by Office of the Surgeon General
Content last reviewed on February 15, 2018