A physician’s role is to diagnose and treat the medical issues of their patients. One of the most complicated diagnoses is addiction because in early stages, the physician must depend on the honesty of the patient rather than purely medical tests and observations.
First, it is important to recognize the difference between a dependency and an addiction. Often, a patient will present with pain from an injury or medical condition. While the medications prescribed by physicians alleviate the pain, many cause the user to develop a dependency. Once a person becomes dependent on pain medication, the dosage prescribed no longer provides the desired result. As a patient begins asking for stronger prescriptions, a physician should evaluate if the medication to ensure it is still the best treatment. Are there any natural remedies that may help such as diet, exercise or acupuncture? This is an important juncture in the treatment plan. The doctors should be alerted that this patient may be more susceptible to the development of an addiction.
Most addicts will attempt to hide the truth from their doctors. In addition to prescription drugs, many people who are abusing and have become addicted to illegal drugs and alcohol will attempt to function in their normal lives as long as possible.
Several organizations have prepared screening tools for use by physicians. By having patients answer the questions found on either of the following links, physicians can measure the risk if a patient is abusing drugs or alcohol.
Once a diagnosis is established, the next step is to guide them to a treatment facility. There are some guidelines that may be useful in presenting the options. Treatment is done on an outpatient or inpatient (residential) basis. Each is good, but provides very different levels of care. Here are some questions to consider:
To what level is this individual functioning? Is he/she working full time? Are there children in the home? Are there other adults in the home to care for the children while one parent is in treatment? How long has the individual been addicted to/dependent on drugs? Is this person likely to be successful in an outpatient setting, or do they need the more structured setting of a residential facility? Does the person have insurance or means to pay for treatment? Will the person want to seek treatment locally (to be close to supportive friends/family) or is a destination treatment facility a better option to be further removed from distractions at home?
Whether the patient is seeking residential or outpatient care, similar guidelines should be followed to find credible treatment programs. As patients begin their search, they should take the following into consideration.
Make certain the treatment provider is licensed by the State where the facility is located.
Look for an accredited treatment provider. CARF and JHACO are two of the largest accrediting organizations in the US, ensuring that facilities maintain a set level of treatment standards.
Call the facility and ask questions about the patient’s particular situation. Can this facility address all of the individual’s needs? In addition to substance abuse, do they deal with pain management, trauma and/or co-occurring mental health disorders?
Treatment for substance abuse is not a one size fits all method. Rather, there are several different types of models employed by rehabilitation facilities.
1Information taken from The Institute for Rapid Resolution Therapy website, www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com.
Located in sunny Sarasota Florida, Pathways uses evidence-based treatment methodologies such as MET, CBT, MRT and RRT, as well as the 12-Step principles for residential drug and alcohol treatment. The caring, compassionate and experienced staff at Pathways can guide your patients to a life of recovery from drugs and alcohol. Licensed and CARF accredited, Pathways has more than 30 years’ experience in treating individuals with substance abuse disorders.