J Clin Outcomes Manage
Screening for substance abuse in primary care among women veterans
Kaur S, Bastian LA
Abstract Objective: To review the importance of screening for tobacco, alcohol, recreational drug, and prescription drug abuse in women veterans. Methods: A review of the literature was conducted by searching the MEDLINE database (1966–2004) using the keywords “women,” “veterans,” “tobacco,” “alcohol,” and “substance abuse.” A search of national guidelines was also performed using the National Guideline Clearinghouse Web site. Results: The prevalence of substance abuse of all types is higher in women veterans than in civilian women. Women veterans are frequently underdiagnosed for substance abuse problems. Those that are referred for treatment are less likely to complete treatment than male veterans. Because of the complicated nature of substance abuse in women veterans (ie, high rates of associated medical, psychological, and social problems), substance abuse treatment programs for this population need to be more comprehensive. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has established guidelines for screening and counseling for tobacco and alcohol abuse in all adults. Women veterans should also be screened for abuse of prescription and recreational drugs. Conclusion: Primary care providers should screen women veterans for tobacco, alcohol, recreational drug, and prescription drug abuse. By understanding the complexities of substance abuse in women veterans, providers can help ensure that this population will be more successfully diagnosed and treated.
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