New program aims to change that
Doctors see them every day in their offices, outpatient clinics and hospital emergency rooms: men in their 50s with bleeding ulcers; young adults pulled from car crashes; middle-aged women fighting a losing battle against chronic pain. Who are they?
As dissimilar as they seem, many of these patients are also suffering from another illness — alcohol or drug abuse — that is at the root of the more obvious ailments that keep them cycling through the medical system. Even so, their addiction is rarely addressed by doctors.
A recent comprehensive report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that most doctors fail to identify or diagnose substance abuse “or know what to do with patients who present with treatable symptoms.”