.—April 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
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 Safina
Koreishi, MD, medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO. “What your doctor is doing is
a practice that’s called SBIRT, which means Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral
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 gives good results.
“It really works,” Dr. Koreishi says. “That’s why Columbia Pacific CCO 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
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, http://211info.org/search-resources/