Primary care physicians who are critical in identifying and treating substance abuse problems now have a new means to help them in that effort from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Doctors often report discomfort in addressing such issues with patients because they have limited training on the subject, said Gaya Dowling, PhD, acting chief of the Science Policy Branch in NIDA's Office of Science Policy and Communications. The institute promotes using science to combat drug abuse and addiction. On April 8, NIDA and the American Society of Addiction Medicine launched a free phone and email service to help primary care physicians implement drug screening in their practices. The service, called the Physician Clinical Support System for Primary Care, offers doctors guidance on what to do if a screen indicates that a patient smokes or uses illegal drugs or prescription medications for nonmedical reasons ( The program is funded by NIDA. "Physicians are in a really unique position not only to identify patients with substance abuse problems but also to serve as prevention resources. [Doctors have the capability] to identify people who have started using drugs but have not yet become addicted," Dowling said. In 2009, an estimated 8.7% of Americans 12 and older reported using an illicit drug in the past month. About one in four participated in binge drinking (having five or more drinks on the same occasion), according to a 2010 national survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. With the new support service, doctors can discuss clinical situations involving patients' use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco with other primary care physicians who have expertise in substance abuse. Physicians can call or send an email with their question. Within 24 to 48 hours, they will receive the contact information of a primary care physician who can discuss the issue. Doctors using the service for the first time must register by calling the phone line or faxing a registration form to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. They also can register by email. The full and original article can be found at: