In the 1976 Mel Brooks film “Silent Movie,” the only spoken word came from the famous mime Marcel Marceau: “Non!” An absurd moment, since mimes don’t speak. To us, this classic movie scene serves as a perfect analogy for the absurd way our society views addiction. The issue is most often looked at as black and white (like a mime’s face paint), and the only word spoken about it is, “No.”
Giving addiction the silent treatment has to end, and that starts by understanding addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine says it perfectly: “Addiction is not about drugs, it’s about brains ... [It’s] about what happens in a person’s brain when they’re exposed to rewarding substances or rewarding behaviors. Addiction is a chronic brain disease.”
More than 40 million Americans over age 11 meet the clinical criteria for addiction to nicotine, alcohol or other drugs. That’s more than the number of folks with heart conditions, diabetes or cancer. Addiction touches everyone’s life one way or another. That’s why, together, we must start a national conversation about how to manage addiction and how we can improve the health of individuals and society.
To help end the silence, we would like you to lend your support Oct. 4 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a rally: UNITE to Face Addiction. We will remember those we’ve lost, give voice to suffering families, and celebrate those who have recovered. Dr. Oz and Dr. Mike plan to be there, along with Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow and other performers. Join us.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit sharecare.com.