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Clinical assessment of drug abuse

If your patient was abusing prescription or illicit drugs, would you know?

In 2011, 3.1 million persons aged 12 or older reported using an illicit drug for the first time within the past 12 months. That is approximately 8,500 initiates per day.1In addition, 6.1 million persons aged 12 or older reported the nonmedical use of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the past month.1

How to clinically assess drug abuse

To address these statistics and improve patient outcomes,the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, has developed NIDAMED – a portfolio of free, science-based resources designed to help nurses and other healthcare clinicians identify drug use and misuse in their patients early and address it before it leads to addiction.

Drug abuse screening tools

The NIDAMED portfolio includes drug screening resources like the NIDA Drug Use Screening Tool – an interactive, online screening tool that begins with a single item screen – and a Resource Guide for Screening for Drug Use in General Medical Settings, which provides information about conducting brief interventions, overcoming patient resistance, and referring patients to treatment.

Built in to the NIDAMED portfolio are two online continuing medical education/ continuing education (CME/CE) activities that offer guidance to nurses and other healthcare clinicians about screening patients in pain for substance use before prescribing medications. The CME/CE activities, currently available through Medscape, also help clinicians identify when patients are abusing their prescription medications.

NIDAMED offers10 curriculum resources that were developed by medical school faculty members to help fill some of the gaps in healthcare clinician education about drug abuse and addiction disorders. In addition, NIDAMED materials––such as booklets, posters, and fact sheets about drug abuse and addiction––are available for patients.

If you have questions about any of the NIDAMED resources, please contact nidacoeteam[at]jbsinternational[dot]com.

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Reference Sources: 1Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of national findings, NSDUH Series H-44, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 12-4713. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Photo credit: Official Website for the State of Michigan

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