More Doctors, Hospitals Using Brief Interventions

The medical community has come under fire in the last few years for the excessive amount of prescription painkiller addicts in the country. Many critics place a large portion of the blame for this epidemic on doctors who overprescribe painkillers, do not properly screen their patients for drug or alcohol abuse problems and who continue to prescribe painkillers even after their patients have had an overdose.

However, many circles have realized that while doctors may be taking a lot of heat for the prescription painkiller problem, they also have the potential for playing a pivotal role in turning this epidemic around. Fostering trust and honest dialogue between patients and doctors can lead to earlier interventions like drug treatment. Patients who trust their doctor and are willing to talk to them about their problems are more likely to receive treatment for a drug or alcohol abuse problem.

Tennessee is one state that has sought to bring patients and doctors together in a more positive way. They created a program called, The Substance Abuse Screenings in Tennessee initiative (SBIRT-TN). The program is based on the importance of screening patients and being able to spot the warning signs that drugs or alcohol might be a problem. The voluntary program allows doctors to come together and share successful practices, use proven screening tools and strengthen drug abuse education within their profession.

Breaking down the barriers to sobriety is an important factor in helping people overcome their addictions. Many experts will agree that some addicts are just looking for someone to open up to.

“Some people who have struggled for years with an addiction, and have been too ashamed or worried about the consequences of admitting they have a problem, will open up to a primary care physician they trust. Many individuals have experienced great relief after being asked about an addiction they have keep secret and can finally open up about and start on a path to recovery,” explained Douglas Varney, commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Bridging the gap between physicians and patients is a vital aspect in treating drug and alcohol addiction. When patients trust their doctor and are able to communicate what is going on with them it allows them to take the first step in receiving the help they need.