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Spring “cleaning” applies to health, too

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 health care provider, to catch up on preventive screenings and talk about how you can adjust your daily routines to stay healthy.

During your visit, your provider 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.

“These are important health questions that we ask of all patients, because we care about all the parts that make up health,” says Erica Idso-Weisz, behavioral health director with Rogue Community Health.

Talking about substance use and how it relates to your well-being can help improve your health. It can also connect those who need help to services.

The survey is called SBIRT, which means Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment. And medical studies say it really works. Asking all patients these questions helps get patients who need it into treatment.

“These can be difficult topics, but most people appreciate the importance of simply being asked,” says Idso-Weisz. “Honesty and transparency are important.”

In addition to SBIRT, 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 provider 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, all these tools are designed to make you healthier and to get help if it’s needed.

“These tools are a non-judgmental way to engage with patients on alcohol and drug use, and to give them feedback,” says Idso-Weisz. “They are an important part of providing team-based, whole-person care.”




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