Time to Ask - Education that transforms conversations about alcohol use
We are very pleased to officially announce a new initiative in Maine called Time to Ask.
In partnering with a team of Maine-based experts and community stakeholders on this program, our focus is to become leaders in innovative approaches and cultural shifts in interprofessional alcohol education and care practices. Designed for primary care physicians, all professionals on their teams, and other non-addiction health care professionals, the overarching objective for the program is to help these clinicians increase their knowledge, skills and comfort to properly identify, assess, and recommend treatment for patients who may be affected by unhealthy alcohol use. It is our vision that this program will raise awareness, change attitudes, and address the gap between education and treatment of unhealthy substance use.
Alcohol use is often under-identified, and as a result, undertreated. It is a major public health issue in Maine and nationally. In addition, unhealthy substance use is one of the most requested health education topics among Maine health care professionals. Substance use is a topic infrequently addressed in professional development programs. The social stigma surrounding substance abuse makes it difficult for health care professionals to discuss it with their patients, and the lack of training leaves providers without the knowledge and skills to identify, address, or recommend evidence-based treatment options.
Alcohol remains the substance most often used by Mainers across the lifespan. In 2012, 18% of Maine adults over 18 reported binge drinking at least once in the past 30 days. (Source: Maine Department of Health and Human Services). Subject matter experts in Maine also cite that 30 to 60 percent of all hospital visits in Maine, and nearly 30 to 40 percent of primary care visits, are alcohol-related. With proper screening and counseling, there will likely be a reduction in the amount of alcohol Mainers consume and in related health care costs.
The next phase of development for Time to Ask will include the planning and design of a needs assessment. This will inform the educational program, which will launch in select federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and primary care practices in rural Maine where there are few addiction specialists. We plan to implement, evaluate, sustain, and broaden the model during 2015.
Learn more about Time to Ask at lunderdineen.org/alcohol-use.
Lunder-Dineen Senior Program Manager Denise O'Connell, LCSW, CCM, CCP and Chief Medical Officer of Penobscot Community Health Care Noah Nisen, MD, FAAP discuss the importance of the new Time to Ask pilot.