Why Addiction Screening of Patients is Challenging in Internal Medicine


Why Addiction Screening of Patients is Challenging in Internal Medicine

Many reasons exist why it may be difficult to diagnose mental illness and addiction within the internal medicine field. Sometimes signs manifest as depression when the issue is being caused by addiction. Other times, it may be a co-occurring disorder. Diagnosis is so challenging only about 4% of patients in addiction treatment were referred by physicians. Find out why screening is so difficult and how to turn the tide to potentially save more lives.

Screening Measures

One of the best screening questions an internal medicine doctor or professional can ask revolves around how many drinks a person has in a typical day or how much marijuana or other substance is used. When the answer is three or more, physicians should move on to the 10-question Alcohol Users Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). The AUDIT is a popular tool because it is standardized, easy to administer and available through the World Health Organization (WHO). it may be easy to miss the person who might have an accident or drink sporadically in a way that is unhealthy. A person may drink a lot but feel in control of their drinking. Screening factors to also keep in mind is asking about a family history of alcohol or drug problems.

Diagnosis to Treatment

The real challenging question is how to provide best treatment for people with addiction in that environment. The key to a successful intervention is timing. When you catch the person at the right time, in the right way, it is possible to help them navigate rehab in a way that is self-sustaining and long-term. Detox itself is not considered treatment. More is needed to make it stick. There are also challenges for internal medicine professionals themselves who struggle with addiction. Finding out why some best practices help them but not the average patient may be the key to sorting out how best to treat addiction for everyone. Often, medical professionals receive:

  • Regular urine tests
  • Interventions for slipping up
  • Support group with peers
  • Financial resources to pay for treatment

Abuse of pain medication has increased for physicians and the average patient. Opiate pain medication is replacing heroin and other drugs at an alarming rate. Marijuana dependence is also on the increase as a problem in the United States. Internists should keep trying to help find best practices for how to support colleagues and regular patients they see everyday. Serenity Recovery Detox provides a safe, comfortable environment in which to heal and recover from addiction. We also provide support for co-occurring disorders to provide comprehensive support for recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.