According to a recent survey, Americans with drinking issues are rarely recommended for therapy, even though the majority states that their doctor inquired about their substance consumption.
Most People With Drinking Problems Ignore Treatments
The research wasn’t the first to find insufficient rates of care for alcohol use disorders (AUDs), which are psychiatric terms for alcoholism that tries to interfere with an individual’s life and well-being.
Less than 10% of Americans with alcohol disorders undergo medical treatment, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The latest estimates, focusing on many more than 214,000 Americans, support this. Just about 6% of those who meet the requirements for developing a drinking disorder claimed they had undergone medication.
But that wasn’t because they’re not seeing doctors or because they’d never been tested for alcoholism, as doctors are supposed to do according to national standards. Instead, it seemed that doctors were often testing, but the procedure was normally terminated at that stage.
Dr. Mintz, who is a physician at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, said that people with substance use problems are flooding the healthcare system. Still, physicians are losing out on this chance.
She speculated that there might be several explanations for this on both the physician and the patient’s end.
For one thing, primary care physicians are always overburdened, and a more in-depth investigation of their patients’ alcohol habits might be placed on the back burner. Patients can downplay their drinking in other situations, according to Mintz.
Although physicians can inquire about alcohol, she believes most are hesitant to advise a patient that their drinking is unhealthy and to recommend treatment options.
Stigma, without a doubt, plays a role in this, according to Mintz.
She emphasized that alcoholism is a debilitating brain condition, not a moral flaw.
Nonetheless, this persistent perception will prevent people, including physicians, from discussing problem drinking publicly.
Pat Aussem works with the non-profit Partnership to End Addiction as an executive vice president for customer clinical content creation. Doctors’ views toward alcohol, she acknowledged, can be a deterrent.
According to Aussem, some findings show that how primary care providers view problematic substance consumption affects not just the provider-patient interaction but also the level of care they offer.
According to her, in such trials, some doctors blamed patients for their alcoholism and other issues, assuming that patients know how to handle them.
In other circumstances, primary care physicians may be unable to address the problem due to a lack of experience or a lack of a good referral base, which includes a network of providers who specialize in AUD service, according to Aussem.
A little less than 8% had AUD, which means they meet at least two of the 11 factors used to diagnose the condition. They include issues such as trying to cut back on alcohol but being unable to do so, choosing to drink even though it interferes with jobs, family care, or relationships, and experiencing withdrawal effects following a drinking binge.
More than 80% of those with AUD have visited a doctor or been to the emergency department in the previous year. And 70% said they’d been asked about their alcohol use. But, according to Mintz, that’s where things stopped.
With less than 12% of people with AUD reported that the doctor has urged them to limit their alcohol, a medical term for a brief intervention.
Brief counseling, hearing a doctor claim their alcohol is an issue, can be enough for those people with milder AUDs, according to Mintz.
Many other patients, on the other hand, need more intensive assistance, whether from advocacy services such as Alcoholics Anonymous or clinical counseling. Mintz believes that drugs such as Naltrexone and Acamprosate can help patients with more serious AUDs.
However, according to the report, only 5% of individuals with AUD were referred to additional care, with a comparable proportion (6%) receiving medication.
Mintz urged patients to be cautious when many physicians are not. She believes that people who are worried about their drinking habits should speak with their primary care provider.