Items in AFP with MESH term: Substance-Related Disorders
ABSTRACT: Chemical dependency is a common, chronic disease that affects up to 25 percent of patients seen in primary care practices. The treatment goal for patients recovering from chemical dependency should be to avoid relapse. This requires physicians to have an open, nonjudgmental attitude and specific expertise about the implications of addiction for other health problems. First-line treatment for chemical dependency should be nonpharmacologic, but when medication is necessary, physicians should avoid drugs that have the potential for abuse or addiction. Medications that sedate or otherwise impair judgment also should be avoided in the recovering patient. Psychiatric illnesses should be aggressively treated, because untreated symptoms increase the risk of relapse into chemical dependency. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may help to lower alcohol consumption in depressed patients, and desipramine may help to facilitate abstinence in persons addicted to cocaine. If insomnia extends beyond the acute or postacute withdrawal period, trazodone may be an effective treatment. If nonpharmacologic management of pain is not possible, nonaddictive medications should be used. However, if non-addictive medications fail, long-acting opiates used under strict supervision may be considered. Uncontrolled pain in itself is a relapse risk.
ABSTRACT: Ten percent of the population abuses drugs or alcohol, and 20 percent of patients seen by family physicians have substance-abuse problems, excluding tobacco use. These patients can be identified by relying on regular screening or a high index of suspicion based on "red flags" that can be noted in various clinical situations. The modified CAGE questionnaire is an excellent screening instrument, but several alternatives are available. The best screening test is one that the physician will routinely use well. Laboratory indicators such as gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, mean corpuscular volume, and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin are nonspecific but can add to the evidence of alcohol abuse. If problem alcohol use is diagnosed, even brief physician advice can be helpful. If the problem has progressed to addiction, referral to an addiction specialist or treatment center is recommended. Special issues arise in dealing with substance abuse in adolescents, elderly patients, and patients with mental illness, but the family physician can play an important role in recognizing this common problem.
ABSTRACT: Inhalant abuse is a prevalent and often overlooked form of substance abuse in adolescents. Survey results consistently show that nearly 20 percent of children in middle school and high school have experimented with inhaled substances. The method of delivery is inhalation of a solvent from its container, a soaked rag, or a bag. Solvents include almost any household cleaning agent or propellant, paint thinner, glue, and lighter fluid. Inhalant abuse typically can cause a euphoric feeling and can become addictive. Acute effects include sudden sniffing death syndrome, asphyxia, and serious injuries (e.g., falls, burns, frostbite). Chronic inhalant abuse can damage cardiac, renal, hepatic, and neurologic systems. Inhalant abuse during pregnancy can cause fetal abnormalities. Diagnosis of inhalant abuse is difficult and relies almost entirely on a thorough history and a high index of suspicion. No specific laboratory tests confirm solvent inhalation. Treatment is generally supportive, because there are no reversal agents for inhalant intoxication. Education of young persons and their parents is essential to decrease experimentation with inhalants.
ABSTRACT: Club drugs are substances commonly used at nightclubs, music festivals, raves, and dance parties to enhance social intimacy and sensory stimulation. The most widely used club drugs are 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy; gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB); flunitrazepam (Rohypnol); and ketamine (Ketalar). These drugs are popular because of their low cost and convenient distribution as small pills, powders, or liquids. Club drugs usually are taken orally and may be taken in combination with each other, with alcohol, or with other drugs. Club drugs often are adulterated or misrepresented. Any club drug overdose should therefore be suspected as polydrug use with the actual substance and dose unknown. Persons who have adverse reactions to these club drugs are likely to consult a family physician. Toxicologic screening generally is not available for club drugs. The primary management is supportive care, with symptomatic control of excess central nervous system stimulation or depression. There are no specific antidotes except for flunitrazepam, a benzodiazepine that responds to flumazenil. Special care must be taken for immediate control of hyperthermia, hypertension, rhabdomyolysis, and serotonin syndrome. Severe drug reactions can occur even with a small dose and may require critical care. Club drug over-dose usually resolves with full recovery within seven hours. Education of the patient and family is essential.
ABSTRACT: Substance abuse in adolescents is undertreated in the United States. Family physicians are well positioned to recognize substance use in their patients and to take steps to address the issue before use escalates. Comorbid mental disorders among adolescents with substance abuse include depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder. Office-, home-, and school-based drug testing is not routinely recommended. Screening tools for adolescent substance abuse include the CRAFFT questionnaire. Family therapy is crucial in the management of adolescent substance use disorders. Although family physicians may be able to treat adolescents with substance use disorders in the office setting, it is often necessary and prudent to refer patients to one or more appropriate consultants who specialize specifically in substance use disorders, psychology, or psychiatry. Treatment options include anticipatory guidance, brief therapeutic counseling, school-based drug-counseling programs, outpatient substance abuse clinics, day treatment programs, and inpatient and residential programs. Working within community and family contexts, family physicians can activate and oversee the system of professionals and treatment components necessary for optimal management of substance misuse in adolescents.
ABSTRACT: Outpatient detoxification of patients with alcohol or other drug addiction is being increasingly undertaken. This type of management is appropriate for patients in stage I or stage II of withdrawal who have no significant comorbid conditions and have a support person willing to monitor their progress. Adequate dosages of appropriate substitute medications are important for successful detoxification. In addition, comorbid psychiatric, personality and medical disorders must be managed, and social and environmental concerns need to be addressed. By providing supportive, nonjudgmental, yet assertive care, the family physician can facilitate the best possible chance for a patient's successful recovery.
ABSTRACT: The symptomatic effects of drug abuse are a result of alterations in the functioning of the following neurotransmitters or their receptors: acetylcholine, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, norepinephrine, opioids and serotonin. Anticholinergic drugs antagonize acetylcholine receptors. Dissociative drugs affect all transmitter sites. Opiates act on both opioid and adrenergic receptor sites. Psychedelic drugs stimulate serotonin release, and sedative-hypnotic drugs potentiate the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor. Specific signs and symptoms are associated with the neurotransmitters and receptors affected by each drug class. By recognizing symptomatic changes related to particular neurotransmitters and their receptors, family physicians can accurately determine the drug class and intervene appropriately to counteract drug-induced effects.
The Challenge of Unexplained Symptoms - Close-ups
When a Patient's Chronic Pain Gets Worse - Curbside Consultation
Screening for Illicit Drug Use - Putting Prevention into Practice