LOS ANGELES, Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued the first-ever Surgeon General's report on addiction on Thursday. Dr. Murthy stated that he intends for the report to galvanize support to change drug policy in the United States in the way that a similar report over 50 years ago accelerated efforts to combat smoking. Dr. Michael H. Lowenstein, Medical Director of the Waismann Method Medical Group, supports the Surgeon General's efforts and is enthusiastic about the prospect of changing the way we view and treat substance abuse in the United States. Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161123/442678LOGO Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161123/442677LOGO The report comes at a time when substance abuse issues are ravaging the country. An estimated 20.8 million people in the U.S. are suffering from a substance use disorder. This figure is similar to the number of people who have diabetes and is 150% larger than the number of people who have all types of cancer combined. Additionally, the number of deaths from drug overdose is at an all-time high, with 47,055 deaths in 2014. Unfortunately, the resources devoted to substance abuse lag far behind the government funds allocated to combating these other medical conditions. Despite a commitment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review policies designed to reduce rates of drug addiction, little traction has been gained in the fight against substance abuse. In the report, entitled "Facing Addiction in America," Dr. Murthy stated clearly that the available scientific evidence indicates that addiction is an illness, not a moral failing. Rather than addiction being a disease of choice or weak willpower, it has become clear that exposure to addictive substances can lead to full-blown addiction in men and women of all ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. These substances actually change the brain's circuitry, affecting the reward system, stress response, and ability to make decisions. Given this biological basis for addiction, Dr. Murthy is calling for a shift in the way we conceptualize and treat substance abuse.