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Drinking and drugging can be painful

egutis. "Research shows that, following substance abuse treatment, absenteeism, disability days and disciplinary actions all decrease by more than 50%. Adults who complete inpatient alcohol treatment have significantly lower health care utilization than they had prior to treatment. Their use of medical services is cut in half, while they use 60 percent fewer psychiatric services, have a third fewer emergency admissions, and show a 75% reduction in detoxification admissions. However, in order for treatment to occur, the problems must first be identified."

Both Miller and Degutis noted that health care practitioners - particularly family physicians and trauma personnel - have an invaluable, yet often overlooked, role in detecting, intervening on the behalf of, and referring substance-abusing patients to the appropriate care. Miller said that family physicians have an especially important role in helping older, female substance abusers.

"Among working-age adults who are not substance abusers," said Miller, "women are much less likely to be injured than men. Among substance abusers, that's not true. Indeed, by age 50, we found that substance abusers are significantly more likely to get injured if they are women. This finding is alarming, because substance-abusing women are not typically targeted for intervention. Usually it's the men who get attention for substance abuse problems and are pushed into treatment. More physicians, especially family physicians, need to identify female abusers, assess their treatment needs, and see that those needs are met."

Degutis added that, in the context of discussing substance-abuse disorders, a more fundamental issue must first be addressed.

"Addiction is a brain disease," she said. "Too often, addiction is treated as a moral issue, or a 'defect' in someone's personality or behavior or judgement. There are many things that can place someone at risk for developing an addiction, and we now know that it
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Contact: Ted R. Miller, Ph.D.
miller@pire.org
301-586-9200 x727
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
14-Jan-2001


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