A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Alcohol and drug screening: Tools for better health care

If you’ve gone to your provider recently, you may notice you’re being asked screening questions about alcohol and drug use when staff is getting you ready to see your medical provider.

Doctor with a clipboard, meeting with a patient - Alcohol and substance use screening

Marshfield Clinic Health System’s alcohol and substance use screening consists of just a few simple questions.

For patients at Marshfield Clinic Health System, an alcohol and drug use screening gives medical providers a more complete picture of their patients’ health habits.

“Every patient 18 years and older will be screened once a year when they come in for an office visit,” said Jan Simonson, a clinical quality nurse specialist at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “We just ask a few simple questions so we can understand what their use is.”

Patient education through engagement

Simonson said this information helps providers educate their patients about how their substance use choices can affect their health. This screening also helps providers see a fuller picture of their patients in terms of their total health.

“Alcohol use is part of the Wisconsin culture,” Simonson said. “We’re trying to shift the culture so people understand it’s not healthy to use wine, beer or other substances to help you cope with everyday life challenges.”

Simonson said the key to this culture change is public education, which can start in the provider’s office. She added that many people are unaware of how much alcohol they are consuming and how it affects their health.

Low-risk alcohol consumption for men is two drinks or less per day. For women, low-risk alcohol consumption is no more than one drink per day.

RELATED ARTICLE: Are you drinking too much alcohol?

Part of a comprehensive assessment

“This screening is not about labeling,” Simonson said. “This is about education, changing the culture and raising awareness about how alcohol and drug use impact our lives. This is just part of our normal assessment, just like taking your blood pressure or asking about nicotine use.”

If patients want help reducing their alcohol or substance use, Marshfield Clinic Health System is able to refer those individuals for further education or treatment.

“We really want people to know, this is something we are doing for every patient to improve their overall health,” Simonson said.

Talk to your primary care provider for more information about alcohol and drug screenings.

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  1. Jan 25, 2018

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