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Substance Abuse Is a Treatable Chronic Medical Condition

HealthDay News

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WEDNESDAY, March 29, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- In a position paper published online March 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, recommendations are presented for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

Ryan Crowley, from the American College of Physicians in Washington, D.C., and colleagues reviewed the literature and developed recommendations relating to current challenges in prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

The authors note that substance use disorder is a chronic medical condition, and should be managed accordingly through expansion of evidence-based public and individual health initiatives to prevent, treat, and promote recovery. Implementation of treatment-focused programs should be considered as an alternative to incarceration or other criminal penalties for those with substance use disorders selling or possessing illicit substances. The risks and benefits of removing or reducing criminal penalties for nonviolent offenses involving illicit drugs should be assessed. Stakeholders should cooperate to address the epidemic of prescription drug misuse. Health insurance should cover mental health conditions, including evidence-based treatment of substance use disorders. Other recommendations include the need for training in substance use disorder treatment in medical education, and further research into the effectiveness of public health interventions for addressing substance use disorders.

"Physicians can help guide their patients toward recovery by becoming educated about substance use disorders, proper prescribing practices, consulting prescription drug monitoring programs to reduce opioid misuse, and assisting patients in their treatment," the authors write.

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