A new online tool and other resources will help primary-care physicians screen their patients for alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
The NIDAMED physician outreach program includes the new Web-based screening tool — based on the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) — as well as a companion quick-reference guide and a comprehensive screening resource guide for physicians. Waiting-room postcards urging patients to discuss their drug use with their doctors also are provided. “Many patients do not discuss their drug use with their physicians, and do not receive treatment even when their drug abuse escalates,” said NIDA
Director Nora Volkow. “NIDAMED enables physicians to be the first line of defense against substance abuse and addiction and to increase awareness of the impact of substance use on a patient's overall health.”
Primary-care physicians have great potential for screening patients with drug problems and referring them to treatment before they develop full-blown addictions or related health problems. However, many doctors say they lack the training and tools to conduct screenings for addictions.