Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, our Surgeon General, recently released a report that, among other things, highlights the gap between the widespread substance use disorder problems the country faces and the relatively small amount of abuse treatment. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article.

The majority of people who misuse substances do not develop a use disorder, the report said. But roughly one in seven Americans — 14.6 percent of the population — are expected to develop such a disorder at some point.

Only about 10 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive any type of specialty treatment, the report said. And while more than 40 percent of people with such a disorder also have a mental health condition, fewer than half receive treatment for either.

This problem touches everyone. We can change our approach to detect this sooner and get at-risk patients into treatment. Checking every patient, every time, for their prescription history helps find these at-risk patients sooner and more often.

How do you find at-risk patients? Do you check everyone, every time? Let me know how you identify your 14.6%.

An improved PDMP … with accurate and timely data analysis should be regarded as the cornerstone of our collective efforts to address prescription drug abuse.

Department of Public Health

Although relieving pain and reducing suffering are primary emergency physician responsibilities, there is a concurrent duty to limit the personal and societal harm that can result from prescription drug misuse and abuse.

Pain Management / Clinical PolicyACEP Annals of Emergency Medicine 525, October 2012
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