A new grant program tackles Wisconsin's drug and alcohol abuse in the doctor's office. Dr. Richard L. Brown at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health says that's the ideal place to address the issue of substance abuse, but the problem is, that's not happening now. “About one in four people who go to the doctor are engaged in risky or problem drinking or drug use,” says Brown, adding that only ten or twenty percent of those patients get some kind of help.
The $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Family Services will be used for drug and alcohol screening of adolescents and adults during the next five years. “We will help patients weigh the positives and negatives of their drinking,” says Brown. Participation for patients will be simple; consisting of three simple questions about alcohol and drug use. “If that screen is positive, we will have counselors on site, who can ask some additional questions, figure out how serious the problem is, and get people the help that they need, before bigger problems occur.”
Is this needed in Wisconsin? Brown says data from the Centers for Disease Control show the state often leads the nation in risky drinking and heavy drinking.