Screen all adults for unhealthy drug use, US task force advises

A national panel of health experts is for the first time recommending that clinicians screen all adults for unhealthy drug use.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said clinicians should ask all patients 18 and older questions about unhealthy drug use, defined as either using illicit substances or misusing prescription medications.

Before conducting the screenings, clinicians should ensure they can provide an accurate diagnosis and connect patients with treatment, the task force said.

The recommendation replaces a statement the task force issued in 2008 saying there was not enough evidence available to weigh the benefits and risks of screening all patients for drug use.

The taskforce published its recommendation and corresponding evidence in the Journal of the American Medical Association June 9.

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