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Screening for Drug Use in General Medical Settings Resource Guide

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2012
22 pages
This guide assists clinicians serving adult patients in general medical settings with patient screening for drug use.
In addition to guidance on screening for drugs, the guide assists clinicians in conducting a brief intervention and/or treatment referral for patients who test positive for drugs. The proposed screening addresses not only illegal drugs, but also the use of tobacco, alcohol, and the nonmedical use of prescription drugs. The NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Quick Screen involves the following steps: introduce yourself and establish rapport; ask patients about past-year drug use; begin the NIDA-modified ASSIST; and determine risk level. The NIDA-Modified ASSIST consists of questions that solicit from the patient information about lifetime drug use and then use of the drug of concern within the last 3 months. More detailed questions follow when patients indicate they have used the drugs at issue in the last 3 months. Risk level is determined by scoring the NIDA-Modified ASSIST for illicit and nonmedical prescription drug use. Procedures for scoring are explained. Suggestions for a brief intervention include advising the patient about drug use, assessing his/her readiness to quit, assisting the patient in making changes, and arranging treatment or follow-up care. Recommendations to the patient are outlined based on risk level. Appended recommendations for addressing patient resistance, a sample progress note prepared by the clinician, a change-plan worksheet, biological specimen testing, and a listing of additional resources