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Integrating Medical Care and Addiction Treatment Leads to Success

Integrating Medical Care and Addiction Treatment Leads to Success

Primary care physicians are in the best position to identify and treat threats to a patient’s health but they often miss the signs of substance abuse and addiction. The key is to find ways of integrating primary medical care with noticing the signs of addiction to support people’s overall health and wellness.

Why it Happens

Several reasons exist as to why primary care providers fail to spot signs of substance abuse in people:


  • Improper training: addiction is not emphasized in medical school and most doctors cannot spot it right away. Most physicians won’t know where to send someone for help.
  • Staffing issues. There are not many primary care places which provide staff who understand the full addiction screening, including mental health and family history.
  • Uncertainty about resources. Lacking knowledge about resources for people with addiction is high on the list. Denial and addiction go hand-in-hand and if a person denies it, the doctor may not push for them to seek help nor will they know how to locate resources.


Scientific Awareness

Addiction is misunderstood and thought to be a social issue stemming from weakness or lack of character. Advancements in research have gained acceptance broadly for their greater understanding of how the disease known as ‘substance use disorder’ has been established. Mismanagement of people’s diagnoses has led to people not getting the help they need when they need it.

Anti-Addiction Medication

New drugs developed for treatment of addiction are now safer and more effective. Medications can help people who seek long-term recovery but funding through insurance is still very limited. Knowledge by primary care providers of the use of these medicines also falls short.

Laws in Healthcare

Changing laws have included a Parity Bill passed by Congress in 2008 which requires substance use and mental health disorders to be treated like a chronic disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure. This is usually not covered under insurance so though progress has been made, it doesn’t always get offered. Early diagnosis is key but it is a complex issue which has challenges for insurance providers. The Affordable Care Act includes addiction treatment as an essential benefit so more can get treated but it limits funding in many places.

Even though there are challenges, there is still hope primary care doctors can seek ways to integrate care for people with addiction into their regular practices with the right investment of time to learn and engage with understanding the challenges of addiction.

Serenity provides you with a space to come and heal from addiction. We will help you navigate the resources and programs you need to get better so you can move forward with your life. We will help you find what you need. Call us 24/7 at our toll-free number: 866-294-9401