CPD Article

Primary healthcare approach to substance abuse management

Ramprakash Kaswa
South African Family Practice | Vol 63, No 1 : Part 2| a5307 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v63i1.5307 | © 2021 Ramprakash Kaswa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2021 | Published: 26 May 2021

About the author(s)

Ramprakash Kaswa, Department of Family Medicine and Rural Health, Walter Sisulu University, Mthatha, South Africa


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Abstract

Substance abuse is common amongst patients attending primary healthcare settings. Despite the substantial impact on one’s health, substance abuse is often underdiagnosed by primary care providers owing to a lack of training and time for screening. Self-reported screening tools are easy to administer and efficient to make a substance abuse diagnosis in primary care settings. Comorbid mental illness and intimate partner violence are common amongst patients presenting with substance abuse in primary care. An early diagnosis and a brief behavioural change counselling are effective in managing substance abuse before it develops into dependency. A brief motivational communication rather than a confrontation during substance abuse screening, counselling and treatment is important to achieve optimum patient outcomes.


Keywords

substance abuse; primary healthcare setting; screening tools; brief behavioural change counselling; co-morbidity

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