Health Care Professionals and Professional Associations

Address substance use-related health issues with the same sensitivity and care as any other chronic health condition.

All health care professionals—including physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, dentists, social workers, therapists, and pharmacists—can play a role in addressing substance misuse and substance use disorders, not only by directly providing health care services, but also by promoting prevention strategies and supporting the infrastructure changes needed to better integrate care for substance use disorders into general health care and other treatment settings.

Support high-quality care for substance use disorders.

Professional associations can be instrumental in setting workforce guidelines, advocating for curriculum changes in professional schools, promoting professional continuing education training, and developing evidence-based guidelines that outline best practices for prevention, screening and assessment, brief interventions, diagnosis, and treatment of substance-related health issues. For example, to help address the current opioid crisis and overdose epidemic, associations should raise awareness of the most recent guidelines for opioid prescribing and commend the use of PDMPs by providers. Associations also should raise awareness of the benefits of making naloxone more readily available without a prescription and providing legal protection to physician-prescribers and bystanders (“Good Samaritans”) who administer naloxone when encountering an overdose situation.