Why should I screen my patients for opioid use disorder?

Primary care practices can serve a critical role in the identification of opioid use disorder and connecting affected patients with effective, evidence-based treatment. Given the prevalence and far-reaching effects of this epidemic, the odds are high that you have a patient - or patients - in your practice who could benefit from effective treatment for their opioid use disorder.

For practitioners working with patients receiving long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain, concerns regarding patient opioid misuse, abuse, or addiction may be heightened. Some of you may be interested in learning more about how to provide effective, evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction to patients in your practice. If so, please visit the Becoming a MAT provider section of this site or Contact Us directly to learn more.

All healthcare providers can play an essential role in connecting their patients with life-saving addiction treatment by screening for opioid use disorders and referring patients as indicated and appropriate.

Click here to learn more about opioid addiction and abuse as it presents in primary care practices.

How do I screen patients for potential opioid use disorder?

Screening patients for potential opioid use disorder can take many forms and may range from an informal dialog with your patient regarding a concern about their misuse or abuse of opioids to the formal implementation of a screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) model in your practice.

A list of evidence-based screening tools for adults and adolescents has been collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and is available here.

If you would like a more in-depth guide to understanding and assessing opioid use disorder in patients with chronic pain, the Providers' Clinical Support System (PCSS-O) has made free, web-based training available on their website by clicking here.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) has provided a thorough resource regarding implementation of more formal Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment - or SBIRT - models in primary care. This service is often eligible for reimbursement. For more information on SBIRT, including coding for reimbursement, please visit the SAMHSA site by clicking here.

The SC MAT ACCESS team has assembled a brief slide set addressing the core principles and components of Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment. It is available for download by clicking the button below. Please feel free to use this material with credit for slide development given to the SC MAT ACCESS initiative.

What do I do once I've identified a patient with opioid use disorder?

Many county drug and alcohol treatment programs currently offer evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorders. To learn more about your local drug and alcohol treatment program, visit the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services site.

For patients interested in receiving office-based buprenorphine treatment for their opioid use disorder, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has made a treatment locator tool available on their website.

If you are a primary health care provider looking for opioid use disorder treatment referral options for your patient, please continue to check this space as well will be adding and regularly updating a list of physicians who have partnered with our initiative to provide office-based medication assisted treatment in their community.