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A word to the wise can make a great deal of difference

MEDFORD, Ore. —  Spring is a time of nature’s annual renewal, which can be a reminder to do a little personal health renewal in the form of an annual wellness visit to the doctor.

Many health plans recommend an annual visit to your primary care provider even if you have no particular health concerns at the moment. It’s a way to catch up on preventive screenings and talk about how you can fend off illness in the future.

During your wellness visit, your doctor may ask you a few questions related to use of alcohol or other chemical substances, even if the subject has never come up in the conversation before.

Health experts say to not be offended. It’s actually an effective practice strongly supported by medical research.

“It might be surprising, but just answering a few questions can help a lot,” says Jill Archer, MSW, MBA, Jackson Care Connect’s director of Behavioral Health & Integration. “What your doctor is doing is a practice that’s called SBIRT, which means Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment.”

It starts with a quick screening of most patients, not just those who have observable symptoms of substance use. It has been proved to help identify potential problem areas and to connect patients to treatment for those who need it.

A national study, published in Addiction in 2017 by the Society for the Study of Addiction, says that this brief intervention was associated with positive outcomes.

“It really works,” Archer says. “That’s why Jackson Care Connect and many other plans encourage doctors to use the SBIRT with their patients.”

If your doctor doesn’t ask, it’s even a good idea to bring it up yourself. Just ask about S.B.I.R.T.

It can’t hurt, and it can sure be a help if it’s needed.

Most health plans also offer treatment help. Community resources can also be found at the 211info website,

For information about Jackson Care Connect, contact Sara King Cole, 503-416-7791, or Jeanie Lunsford, 503-416-3626,

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