Recognition Of Alcohol And Substance Abuse Essay

Recognition Of Alcohol And Substance Abuse Essay

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David J. Mersey wrote the article, “Recognition of Alcohol and Substance Abuse” on what substance abuse is and how to identify it; the article was published in the American Family Physician in April edition in 2003. Mersy states how drug and alcohol addiction is clearly a problem and focuses on how it can be identified, although, he mainly refers to alcohol addiction. He calls substance abuse the nation’s number one health problem and refers to statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism that estimate about 100,000 deaths per year are associated with alcohol and drugs. Then, he provides a clear definition of addiction and differentiates how addiction is different from a problem. A person with an alcohol or drug problem may have medical or social problems, but has not lost control, whereas a person with an addiction continues to abuse substances despite negative consequences because they have lost control.
Mersy mentions several ways doctors can determine whether a person has an alcohol or substance abuse problem or addiction. First, he discusses red flags that can be found during physical examinations and screenings for medical problems. These include, but are not limited to frequent absences from work or school, sexual dysfunction, sleep issues, depression, nasal irritation, conjunctival irritation, gastrointestinal symptoms, overuse of mouthwash/aftershave, always smells of marijuana, and inappropriate responses to diagnosis related to frequent alcohol or substance abuse. These red flags prompt doctors to screen patients for drug and alcohol use, however, doctors should still screen suspicious patients.
There are several different screening tools that can be used to screen patients for alcohol and d...


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...e of how his article is too brief and incomplete. The article reads like an introduction on alcohol and drug abuse to a much larger piece of literature, then concludes vaguely with special populations and treatments by stating both are too broad to be thoroughly discussed.
Overall, Mersy presents a great definition of substance abuse and uses reliable sources in his article. He starts his article strong then falls short due to lack of information and exclusion to greater populations. If his article concluded in another way, without mentioning treatment and summed up how somebody received a diagnosis for alcohol or drug addiction it would be more complete and less confusing due to gaps in his article. Otherwise, he presents a strong case that the family physician has an important role in recognizing routine patients’ who develop substance problems and addictions.



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