Expand and Evaluate Screening for Substance Use in All Healthcare Settings [HHS/SAMHSA,
NIDA, NIAAA, HRSA, IHS, VA, DOD]
Screening for substance use should become more broadly implemented in the healthcare system. , awareness of the drugs and alcohol a patient
is consuming can alert the physician to the risks of adverse medication interactions. It also conveys the
important message to all Americans that consideration of substance use should be a standard part of
looking after one’s health. SAMHSA will work with accreditation agencies (e.g., The Joint Commission)
to increase the number of healthcare facilities that screen for substance use and support training of
healthcare providers on how to conduct screenings quickly and effectively. Federal agencies that
support or operate healthcare systems (HRSA, IHS, VA, and DOD) will continue to expand screening
At first read, this might sound like a good idea. Of course you’d want a person’s doctor to be the one they can go to if they have a problem with drug addiction. But when you start talking about detecting their drug use when that use subjects them to criminal penalties, especially within the federal healthcare system of the VA and people receiving Medicare and Medicaid assistance, you then create an incentive not to seek health care.
As noted in my post, Obama Drug Policy calls for drugged driving charges for unimpaired marijuana users, the urine screening for marijuana metabolites can remain detectable for 7-100 days, while the harmful legal and illegal drugs are only detectable for 1-3 days. So your hard drug addicts are least likely to be discovered while responsible cannabis users could face sanctions like coerced drug treatment and denial of important pain medications.
I’m all for doctors caring for their patients in all facets of health care and that would include one’s use of recreational drugs. I am just wary of that becoming a standard coerced by the federal government. I’m especially worried by the phrase “Even
when there is no serious substance use problem present…” because now you’re moving beyond a person’s health care and into lifestyle enforcement.