Imagine in the not-too-distant future your job, college ID, drivers license, passport, gun permit, health insurance etc., will depend on you passing a mandatory drug screening.
What is that you say? It could never happen in America.
It could happen sooner than you think if the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) has anything to say about it.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, the USPSTF wants doctors to screen everyone for drug use.
Questions about drug use should not only cover the possibility that a patient is taking illegal street drugs like cocaine or heroin, the task force said. They should also explore whether a patient might be sneaking pills from a family member’s pain medication or getting a boost from stimulants prescribed for a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
“The USPSTF recommends screening for illicit drug use in adults age 18 years or older”, according to their draft report.
Big Brother really wants to know if you are using illegal street drugs or prescription drugs, and they have given doctors numerous drug screening tools to find out.
Primary care practices are asked to use the following drug screening tools:
- The six-question BSTAD [Brief Screener for Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drugs]),
- The eight-item ASSIST [Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test] risk assessment–based tool),
- TAPS [Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication, and Other Substance Use]) may be useful when clinicians are concerned about prescription misuse.
- NIDA’s. Screening and Assessment Tools Chart,
- NIDA’s Screening for Drug Use in General Medical Settings: A Resource Guide for Providers
- SAMHSA’s -Health Resources and Services Administration Center for Integrated Health Solutions. Substance Use Disorder and Pregnancy
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians
- SAMHSA’s Finding Quality Treatment for Substance Use Disorders
Some will say that this is merely a recommendation and that doctors would never screen everyone for drug use.
But it is already happening to welfare applicants in at least 15 states.
According to the National Conference of Legislatures, at least 15 states have passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients.
When is the last time you or someone you know went to the doctor’s for an unrelated pain or bruise. Did the doctor ask you or them about drug usage? Of course they did.
But if you will not take my word for it, then perhaps you will take Dr. Gary LeRoy’s word for it,
“We’ve been doing this for almost a decade in my office,” said Dr. LeRoy, a staff physician at the East Dayton Health Clinic in Dayton, Ohio, and president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Carol Mangione, the chief of general internal medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told Stat News, “This is a big change that we’re really excited about. Effective treatment is where we will finally begin to move the needle on the epidemic.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse created a “resource guide” that doctors have been using for almost a decade to ask patients about drug use.
According to the USPSTF’s “Draft Recommendation Statement,” about 50% to 86% of pediatricians report that they routinely screen patients for substance use.”
Will all hospitals and doctors adopt the USPSTF’s recommendations?
The New York Times warns “the group’s guidelines are not binding on doctors but they carry weight.”
The Los Angeles Times warns, “the task force is a group of experts who advise the federal government on disease prevention.”
And that is the key takeaway from this story. The USPSTF might claim to be an “independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. But each year, they send a graded recommendation to Congress, like this one, about mandatory drug screening.
As I mentioned earlier, most hospitals and doctors already ask their patients about their drug use. So it is really only a matter of time before the USPSTF convinces Congress to make it mandatory.