Routine Drug Screening Can Reduce Incidence of Addiction, Finds Study


The United States has been witnessing a tremendous rise in the incidence of addiction to various substances in the recent years. The arrival of new designer drugs in the burgeoning drug market over the time has only added to the woes of law enforcement agencies, with the ever growing list of new users mostly comprising teenagers, young adults, women and elderly.

Many people do not understand the complexity behind drug addiction and think that they just need willpower to stop drug abuse. However, this is not the case since drug addiction is a brain disease that cannot be stopped suddenly, without any external help. However, scientific advances have made it possible to understand how drug addiction initiates in a person, paving the way for the ways that can be used to curb substance use and help him or her live a productive life.

According to a December 2016 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Substance Use and Misuse, drug screening at primary care settings can help reach out to the vulnerable population. As per the researchers, an early screening will not only help in curbing the rising incidence of drug addiction, but also provide an early treatment for those found positive in the tests.

Importance of regular drug screening

In the study conducted by University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the researchers found a high prevalence of drug addiction in certain areas of Tijuana and East Los Angeles. It was observed that 19.4 percent of people who participated in a computerized self-administered survey in East Los Angeles community clinics admitted to moderate-to-high drug use; while in Tijuana, the drug addiction rate was 5.7 percent. Apparently, both the estimates were higher than the data recorded by the household surveys in both the countries.

According to the researchers, Los Angeles patients born in Mexico were twice as likely, and Los Angeles patients born in the U.S. were six times more likely of being moderate-to-high drug users, as compared to Tijuana patients born in Mexico. The researchers also found that unlike the presumptions, these regions recorded equal or more prevalence (ranging from moderate-to-high use) in case of problem drug use as compared to problem alcohol use. “Moderate-to-high alcohol use was 15.2 percent in East Los Angeles compared to 6.5 percent in Tijuana. Moderate-to-high tobacco use was 20.4 percent in East Los Angeles and 16.2 percent in Tijuana,” observed the study.

A regular drug screening, preferably in a primary care setting, can help track people who are vulnerable to develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol. A face-to-face counseling with people fighting addiction can prevent many from being trapped into the addiction cycle. For many others who have developed mild addiction, an early treatment and counseling can prevent further damage due to addiction and ensure a rapid recovery.

Road to recovery

Although there is stigma attached with addiction, the fact is it is a brain disease that can be effectively treated. The support, love and care of the people around a person dealing with substance abuse problem can help gain sobriety. However, it is always wise to seek professional help rather than wasting time by trying to manage it alone. Substance use disorders are treated at varying levels of care in different clinical settings. Since addiction varies from patient to patient, it is not advisable to incorporate a common line of treatment for all patients.


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