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State Health Department Encourages Screening for Early Signs of Substance Abuse

All healthcare providers in Wyoming may reimburse expenses incurred for early substance use screening through the state’s EqualityCare program through Medicaid. This project is a part of the state Health Department’s efforts towards promoting the early detection of substance use in individuals.

The screening process is dubbed Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) and is composed of a screening process that covers a few simple questions that are addressed to certain individuals so the interviewer can gauge their predisposition for substance abuse based on their behavioural patterns. From there, the healthcare provider administers simple intervention through education which is expected to help the individual minimize or even quit using harmful substances. Those who have been found to be suffering from severe dependence are referred to one of the community mental health and substance abuse facilities in the state.

“Many people don’t realize how their use of legal and illegal substances may impact their health,” says deputy director Rodger McDaniel of the Wyoming Department of Health’s mental health and substance abuse services. The project aims to provide sufficient education to concerned individuals before they succumb to the addiction.

Previous research have found that basic health care screening can help identify many individuals who manifest a high risk of developing chronic alcohol or drug addiction. According to McDaniel, the project aimed to enlist the help of health care providers in the state because of screening conducted through medical facilities has been found to be significantly effective. “The focus is on a person’s health rather than appearing as a judgment on behaviours, and the patient controls how
much information they want to receive,” he adds.

The deputy director also stated that this project is also expected to help the state save money that is otherwise spent on expensive treatments for substance abuse. It can also reduce the need to stay in the hospital for a long period and the emergency department will also see a reduction in the cases that they have to handle everyday.

EqualityCare (Medicaid) providers who have been invited to take part in SBIRT have been notified so they can implement the new screening. “The SBIRT process supports prevention and wellness,” says state Medicaid agent Teri Green.

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