Expert Panel Recommends Doctors Screen All Adult Patients for Illicit Drug Use

A national task force is recommending that doctors screen all adult patients for illicit drug use, including non-medical use of prescription drugs, The New York Times reports.

Screening typically involves asking one or more questions about drug use, frequency of use, or risks related to use. This can include questions on routine intake forms or asking patients questions when they come into a doctor’s office.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force did not endorse screening for teens. “We want to help prevent illicit drug use in teens, so we’re calling for more research on the benefits of screening,” Task Force member Carol Mangione, M.D., M.S.P.H., said in a news release. “Clinicians should continue to use their professional judgment to determine what’s best for their teen patients.”

Parents or caregivers who are concerned about teen drug use or who see physical or behavioral evidence of drug use can talk to the teen’s doctor about further assessment, the panel said.

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