Guest Author - Susan Hubenthal
In 2001, 1,080 primary care physicians were surveyed to find out how many, of them, were helping their patients find treatment for their addiction. About a third of them said they don?t ask routine questions of new patients about drug use and 15 per cent of them said they don?t routinely offer and type of treatment options to their drug addicted patients.
Some of the surveyed doctors do offer intervention, 61 per cent of them said they recommend a 12 Step Program, which has been shown to be less effective than a structured therapy for addiction. 55 per cent said they routinely recommend addiction therapy, such as methadone or treatment centers.
Sadly, the results of this survey suggest many doctors don?t consider drug abuse a medical problem, similar to other chronic diseases. 14.8 million Americans, in 1999, were users of illegal drugs. Many drug abusers will see their doctors for illnesses that may be linked to drug addiction. If doctors do not ask about drug use in the patient, they are not treating that patient for the drug problem.
Some doctors feel uncomfortable talking to their patients about drug abuse. They often feel it isn?t their expertise. This brings up the question of giving doctors more training. Failing to recognize drug dependency, in a patient, or talking to them about it strongly suggests that drug abuse training is urgently needed in medical schools. Intervention of a drug-addicted patient by a primary care physician may stop another death of a child or loved one from an overdose. This epidemic of young people and drugs has become an emergency, denial and passing the buck is only adding to the body count in the drug war.
How many parents have taken their teen to their family doctor out of concern for the reckless changes they have observed, only to be told it is just hormones, or it?s simply growing pains? In my son?s case, the doctors never mentioned drugs they just kept giving him even more prescription drugs to treat his medical problems. I could find no help, or understanding from our medical community and only when I began to listen to my gut instincts, was I able to take positive action.
My instincts told me my son may be using drugs. I searched for parents who had addicted children. I listened to their stories, finding similarities in our experiences and decided to take a bold step and take my son to a treatment center for drug testing. The tests were positive for drug use, and he was put into treatment immediately. For the first time in months I was able to sleep, knowing he was safe ? for the time being.