When does a patient need a drug treatment referral?

Look for These Signs When Evaluating a Patient

Typical situations may occur when a primary care or other attending physician or clinician may find it appropriate to consult with an addiction specialist. Addiction treatment programs can offer a patient the kinds of specialized care and assessments needed for substance use disorders.

As a primary care physician, you may not have the time, training or resources to conduct a full and thorough substance use disorder assessment. At Northland, our certified alcohol and drug counselors do hundreds of assessments every month and recommend patients to various levels of care depending on the severity of their substance use disorder.

Once a thorough diagnostic assessment is given and a level of care recommended then Northland can work with the primary care doctor, family members, and other parties to develop and execute a treatment plan.

As a clinician, if you encounter any of these situations you should consider referring your patient to a substance abuse treatment provider such as Northland

  • A patient requests a referral to a substance use treatment center
  • You find a patient to be abusing or being non-compliant with your policies regarding controlled substances
  • A patient is suspected of diverting, abusing or otherwise improperly handling opiates, benzodiazepines or other prescription drugs
  • A patient has a history of psychiatric, medical, or substance abuse issues related to alcohol or substance abuse, such as: hepatitis, pancreatitis, cirrhosis, broken bones, depression, seizures or other symptoms which may indicate a substance use disorder.
  • A patient is dependent on opioids where the risks outweigh any benefits of the medication
  • A patient who is not able to maintain their use of alcohol or other drugs at a safe level. Binge drinkers are a good example of a patient who may benefit from our cognitive behavioral approach

Signs your patient may be abusing opioids or other drugs

  • Rapidly escalating dosage or demands for medications
  • Observed or reported intoxication
  • Theft of prescriptions, altering of prescriptions, or sale of prescriptions
  • Frequently losing medication, or reporting it was stolen
  • “Doctor shopping”, or repeatedly seeking prescriptions from other providers or departments
  • Producing abnormal, confirmed toxicology screens
If you notice any of these signs or if your patient requests a referral to an addiction treatment provider Northland can help.