HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 23, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new report on addiction released by the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy, will raise awareness and help galvanize action toward getting treatment for people with substance use disorder (SUD), said Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis. "This first-ever report on addiction by the nation's top doctor elevates public awareness and treatment of drug and alcohol addiction as a disease," said Tennis. "The report classifies SUD as a chronic condition, like heart disease or diabetes, and recommends parity in health care treatment. "We are in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic in history, and this report confirms it," said Tennis. "Many Pennsylvanians know someone suffering from the disease of addiction or they may be suffering themselves. The results of this disease are devastating - it has a terrible impact on crime, health of the individual and the family, quality of life, vehicle crashes, workplace injuries. Most importantly, left untreated it is ultimately fatal." Last year, more than 3,500 people died in the Commonwealth from overdoses, said Tennis, surpassing the number of people who died from automobile accidents. He said the fatality rate for 2016 will be even higher. More than 27 million people in the United States reported current use of illicit drugs or misuse of prescription drugs, while more than 66 million people reported binge drinking, according to the report. Deaths from drug overdoses across the nation hit a record of 47,055 in 2014, propelled by prescription painkiller and heroin abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "In addition to being a public health and societal crisis, the report underscored that this epidemic has a huge economic impact on our country," said Tennis.