Arizona gets money to screen for alcohol, drug abuse

July 31, 2012

Arizona has won a federal grant to try to intervene before alcohol and substance use becomes an addiction. The $7.5 million will set up a program of early screening at several community health centers and one emergency room in Northern Arizona. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

MARK BRODIE: Once the program is up and running this fall, all patients using those facilities will be asked a few questions…and if needed, they’ll undergo a more involved screening, a brief intervention or be referred to a treatment program. Doctor Laura Nelson is the Deputy Director for Behavioral Health Services with the state health department.

LAURA NELSON: The idea is to identify early people that are heading down that road to abuse or dependence, to make some healthy changes so that they don’t not only have worsening medical problems down the road, but then also cause additional costs to the health care system.

BRODIE: The grant money will be used at facilities in Apache, Coconino, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai Counties. Nelson says that’s because agency data suggest those counties have high rates of death from substance abuse, and fewer resources to deal with the issue than more urban areas. But, Nelson says the goal is to eventually implement the program statewide.

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