Problem alcohol use is associated with adverse health and economic outcomes, especially among people in opioid agonist treatment. Screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) are effective in reducing alcohol use; however, issues involved in SBIRT implementation among opioid agonist patients are unknown. To assess identification and treatment of alcohol use disorders, we reviewed clinical records of opioid agonist patients screened for an alcohol use disorder in a primary care clinic (n =208) and in an opioid treatment program (n = 204) over a two year period. In the primary care clinic, 193 (93%) buprenorphine patients completed an annual alcohol screening and six (3%) had elevated AUDIT scores. Among the patients treated in the opioid treatment program, an alcohol abuse or dependence diagnosis was recorded for 54 (27%) methadone patients. Practitioner focus groups were completed in the primary care (n = 4 physicians) and the opioid treatment program (n = 11 counsellors) to assess experience with and attitudes towards screening opioid agonist patients for alcohol use disorders. Focus groups suggested organizational, structural, provider, patient and community variables hindered or fostered alcohol screening. Alcohol screening is feasible among opioid agonist patients. Effective implementation, however, requires physician training and systematic changes in workflow
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