Would it be okay if less than 10 percent of people with cancer received specialized treatment for their condition? What if only eight out of 100 people who needed a hip replacement were able to see a surgeon – is that good medical care?
Of course not. People who have serious medical conditions need the specialized treatment available only through a qualified specialist. Unfortunately, less than 8 percent of people with a substance use disorder receive specialized treatment for their condition, according to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2013. More than 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a substance use disorder, a diagnosis referring to the overuse of, or dependence on, a drug that effects the individual’s physical and mental health
so this means there are millions of Americans who are not getting the specialized treatment they need for their condition.
Why use Specialized Care?
While a medical doctor may be able to diagnose cancer or a broken hip, a general practitioner does not have the expertise or additional training necessary to these conditions effectively. To improve the chances of a good outcome, a cancer patient sees a doctor specially trained in oncology and a patient in need of a hip replacement should see an orthopedic surgeon. The same is true for someone with a drug addiction – specialized treatment provides the best hope of a good treatment outcome.
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Substance use disorder, addiction and physical dependence are complex conditions that often co-exist with other physical or mental health issues. Specialized care providers are uniquely qualified to screen patients for these co-existing conditions, create treatment plans, spot complications and to modify patient treatment plans accordingly. Substance abuse professionals regularly attend continuing education programs to keep up on the latest techniques and breakthroughs in the world of addiction recovery medicine.
What Health Professionals Need to Know
The first step in addressing substance abuse disorders is to recognize the immense scope of the problem. Substance use disorders, also known as SUDs, are a significant yet undertreated condition in the United States. Currently, more than 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from an SUD. If one out of ten Americans have an SUD but only 8 percent receive specialized treatment, this means about 29 million Americans are not getting the professional treatment they need for a successful recovery.
The next step is to increase the number of physicians and allied health professionals capable of offering evidence-based therapies that offer the best hope for a good treatment outcome. Licensed practitioners can take coursework to improve their skills at providing the variety of approaches necessary to achieve good outcomes. Undergraduate and graduate courses can strengthen coursework in treating SUDs so that practitioners of all levels, not just addiction specialists, can provide some measure of advanced care. More physicians can pursue fellowship training in addictions.
Psychiatrists can incorporate addiction treatment into their current practices, as about 20 percent of patients who seek treatment for mood or anxiety disorders also have substance use disorders.
General psychiatrists, addiction psychiatry fellows, psychiatry residents, and allied health professionals treating addicted patients would benefit from additional training in identifying and treating SUDs.
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Perhaps the most important thing practitioners should know is how to refer a patient to detoxification and rehabilitation specialists. The professionals at Waismann Method have the advanced training and expertise necessary to provide optimal recovery outcomes for patients struggling with substance use disorders and addiction.