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.
“Turns out, it matters if you ask people about substance use,” says Safina Koreishi, MD, and medical director for Columbia Pacific CCO. “It is a difficult subject, but talking about it might end up making you healthier.”
Talking about substance use, how it related to your health can help improve your health and it can also help get those who need help into the services they need.
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.
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, Dr. Koreishi says that all these tools are designed to make you healthier and to get help if it’s needed.
“They’re not about blaming, or shaming,” she 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.”