Spring “cleaning” applies to health, too

Posted on Apr 1, 2019 @ 1:33 PM
Spring “cleaning” applies to health, too.
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It’s spring, after a cold, cold winter, and everything is starting to perk up outside.

It’s a good time to think about getting yourself as healthy as you can be, which might include an annual visit to your doctor, to catch up on preventive screenings and talk about how you can adjust your daily routines to stay healthy.

During your visit, your doctor may ask a few questions about alcohol and substance use, even if you haven’t brought it up.

It’s a valuable tool, medical studies show.

“Turns out, it matters if you ask people about substance use,” says Ryan Olds, LPC, CADCI, a CareOregon behavioral health supervisor. “It’s a quick way for a member or patient or provider to talk about a difficult subject.”

Asking everyone a few quick questions, then referring those who need it to treatment, helps improve the numbers of folks who do get treatment they need.

The practice is called SBIRT, which means Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment. And those medical studies say it really works. Asking most, if not all patients these questions does get people who need it into treatment.

If you don’t happen to have a visit to your doctor on your immediate schedule, there are a couple of other screening tests that can be used to help you decide whether you need to reach out for help.

  • The Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) is designed for adults age 21 and older. It includes 10 questions, asking about your own involvement with drugs and alcohol. If you answer “yes” to one or two questions, ask your doctor for feedback and advice. More “yes” answers mean you may need additional intervention.
  • The CRAFFT Screening Questions are to be used for children and young adults under the age of 21. These questions are, of course, different because developing minds and bodies react differently than adults’ do.

Keep in mind, Ryan says, that all these tools are designed to get help where it’s needed.

“They’re not about blaming, or shaming,” he says. “They are all designed to help you have a conversation with a provider or someone who’s equipped to help and wants to help you.”

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