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Routinely Screen Patients for Substance Use Disorder.

Screening for substance abuse, including alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications, should be a regular part of health care. According to national data, nearly one-fourth of patients seeking routine hospital care have an active addiction. Many people go untreated for substance use disorders due to a lack of screening and diagnosis. Make the discussion about drugs and alcohol a part of routine office visits. You could help identify an addiction problem early, which could help get your patient into treatment early. The potential for drug and alcohol abuse is everywhere — in our homes, our schools, our workplaces, and our communities. Talk with your patients. They’ll listen to you.

Signs a patient may be addicted:

  • Altered sleep habits
  • Small or pinpoint pupils
  • Dramatic weight changes
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Frequent colds or illness
  • Itchy skin or unexplained cuts or scabs
  • Leg cramps
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sense of desperation
  • Changes in personality or friends
  • School- or work-performance problems
  • Out of or in need of money
  • Nodding off or constant sleep problems
  • Paranoia
  • Secrecy
  • Sense of desperation
  • Changes in personality or friends
  • School- or work-performance problems
  • Out of or in need of money
  • Nodding off or constant sleep problems
  • Paranoia
  • Secrecy

How to speak with your patients:

  • Ask nonjudgmental, open-ended questions.
  • Start out simply: “Is it OK if I ask you some questions about drugs and alcohol?”
  • Tell patients it’s a standard part of health screening and that everyone is asked the same questions.
  • Quantify the drug or alcohol use and how it can impair judgment.
  • Be empathetic and inquisitive.
  • Be alert for signs of addiction and be prepared to refer your patient if you suspect an addiction issue. For a list of treatment resources, visit our resources section.

Use Proven Tools to Identify and Routinely Screen for Substance Use Disorder.

Providers should evaluate patients for substance use disorder during regular patient visits. Those patients who have been prescribed opioid therapy should be evaluated more often.

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs. SBIRT consists of three major components:

  • Screening — You assess a patient for risky substance use behaviors using standardized screening tools.
  • Brief Intervention — You engage a patient showing risky substance use behaviors in a short conversation, providing feedback and advice.
  • Referral to Treatment — You provide a referral to therapy or additional treatment to patients who you determine are in need of additional services.

The CAGE and CAGE-AID questionnaire is a tool that helps to assess the likelihood and severity of alcohol and drug abuse.

CAGE-AID Questionnaire
CAGE-AID Questionnaire
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Access Our Comprehensive List of Programs for Your Patients and Their Families.

We know finding help can be overwhelming. We’ve put together a list, in one place, of all the detox, outpatient, inpatient, and education programs throughout Delaware. This list includes details like insurance acceptance, location, and contact information. You and your patients can refer to it when looking for a program with the services they need, close to where they live or work.

Treatment Programs

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