Surgeon General Reports 20.8M Americans Misuse Drugs; Novus Medical Detox Center Analyzes Costs

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In response to the U.S. Surgeon General’s recent report on addiction in America, Novus Medical Detox Center reviews the cost considerations and contends that economic status should not be a barrier to effective substance abuse treatment.

Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and VP of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center, analyzes the importance of treatment for substance abusers

Alcohol and drug treatment programs can have a profound impact on the current public health crisis. Not only can they save lives, but they also help to reduce the economic costs to society.

A new report issued by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy revealed that 20.8 million Americans—nearly 8% of the adolescent and adult population—have a substance use disorder; yet only 1 in 10 of them receive any kind of specialty treatment.(1) Novus Medical Detox Center, a leading Florida-based drug treatment facility, examines the benefits of substance abuse treatment and maintains that economic status should not prevent anyone from obtaining appropriate care.

According to the Surgeon General’s report, approximately 1 in 7 Americans is expected to develop a substance use disorder at some point in their lives. While alcohol abuse impacts more people than drugs (15.7 million vs. 7.7. million), drugs have a higher death toll. Opioid overdoses alone kill 78 Americans each day, or one person every 19 minutes—a figure that has nearly quadrupled since 1999.(1)

The report estimated the economic impact of substance misuse and substance use disorders to be $442 billion each year, with alcohol accounting for $249 billion and drugs for $193 billion.(1) These figures represent lost productivity, healthcare expenses and law enforcement/criminal justice costs. However, researchers have found that every dollar invested in substance abuse treatment saves $4 in healthcare costs and $7 in law enforcement and other criminal justice costs.(2)

“Alcohol and drug treatment programs can have a profound impact on the current public health crisis. Not only can they save lives, but they also help to reduce the economic costs to society,” noted Kent Runyon, Compliance Officer and Vice President of Community Relations for Novus Medical Detox Center. “Yet in spite of these documented benefits, the majority of people who need treatment aren’t getting it. And until that changes, we will continue to face an epidemic.”

The latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that 20.4 million U.S. adults need substance use treatment, yet only 2.3 million (11.1%) received treatment at a specialty facility. Over 95% of those who did not receive treatment said they didn’t feel they needed it. Among those who recognized a need for treatment but did not obtain it, 40.7% were not ready to stop using, 30.6% said they could not afford the cost, 16.4% were concerned it might have a negative effect on their job, and 12.6% said they didn’t know where to go for treatment.(3)

Abel Tesfaye, a singer and songwriter known professionally as The Weeknd, is among those who openly admits to once-heavy drug use. When an interviewer asked if he had ever sought treatment, The Weeknd replied, “Definitely not. I think that’s more when you’re privileged, you know? Going to a therapist is not something you do when you’re growing up as a street kid in Toronto.”(4)

Runyon says the NSDUH findings and perceptions of individuals like The Weeknd demonstrate a need for expanded access to alcohol and drug treatment programs and for greater awareness of their advantages, availability and affordability. He urges medical professionals to engage in regular screening to identify individuals who may need treatment and help them obtain an appropriate level of care. He also encourages those who engage in heavy drinking or drug misuse/abuse to begin researching their options and to speak openly with their healthcare provider, who is legally bound to maintain patient confidentiality and who understands that substance use disorders are a chronic illness rather than a moral failing.

Novus offers medically supervised alcohol and drug detox programs designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The Florida drug detox facility provides individually customized treatment plans based on proven medical protocols, with 24-hour access to withdrawal specialists and nursing care. Novus is renowned for its expertise in treating high-dose methadone cases, and is proficient in detoxing patients from other substances just as safely, comfortably and effectively.

For more information on Novus Medical Detox Center and its alcohol and drug treatment programs, visit

About Novus Medical Detox Center:
Novus Medical Detox Center has earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Behavioral Health Care Accreditation as an inpatient medical detox facility. Licensed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Novus provides safe, effective alcohol and drug treatment programs that are based on proven medical protocols and designed to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. The facility is located on 3.25 acres in New Port Richey, Florida, in a tranquil, spa-like setting bordering protected conservation land. Intent on proving that detox doesn’t have to be painful or degrading, Novus set out to transform the industry by bringing humanity into medical detox with individually customized treatment programs and 24/7 access to nursing care and withdrawal specialists. Today, Novus is renowned as a champion of industry standardization and a staunch advocate of patients fighting to overcome substance use disorders. Frequently recognized for its contributions to the industry and local community, Novus has become a regular source to media publications such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and has ranked in the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Fast 50, the Florida Business Journal’s Top 500 and the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. For more information on Novus’ medically supervised detox programs, visit

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, Executive Summary; November 2016.

2. Office of National Drug Control Policy. Fact Sheet: Cost Benefits of Investing Early in Substance Abuse Treatment; May 2012.

3. Park-Lee, Eunice; Rachel N. Lipari; et al. “Receipt of Services for Substance Use and Mental Health Issues Among Adults: Results From the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health”; NSDUH Data Review; September 2016.

4. Bakkila, Blake. “‘I Can’t Do This Sober’: The Weeknd Admits That ‘Drugs Were a Crutch’ for Him While Making Music”; People; December 4, 2016.

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Karla Jo Helms
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