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Health Agencies Update
May 27, 2009

Screening for Drug Use

JAMA. 2009;301(20):2085. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.714

A new initiative launched in April by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is providing primary care physicians with access to a range of tools to help them screen patients for substance abuse. A goal of the program, called NIDAMED, is to identify affected individuals and intervene before they develop serious addiction or other medical problems.

The program's Web site ( offers training and tools for physicians to identify patients who are using tobacco or illicit drugs, as well as those who may be abusing alcohol or prescription drugs. The site also offers resources to help primary care physicians provide brief interventions to patients engaging in such risky behaviors and to facilitate referral for treatment when necessary. According to a statement from NIDA, the approach can substantially reduce alcohol and tobacco use, and there is a growing body of evidence such interventions may also reduce illegal drug use or prescription drug abuse.

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