The University of Arizona

Illicit Drug Screening, Brief Intervention, and Treatment Placement
Screening in Primary Care Settings:
The Debate

Multiple professional and governmental organizations recommend screening for illicit drug abuse in primary care settings.[1]  However, there are few standards as to how such screening should be done.  Moreover, while the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has stated that the assessment of drug abuse is important in primary care settings, it has also concluded that there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for drug abuse with standardized questionnaires or with biologic assays.[2]  However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is currently updating its position and may issue modifications.

To better understand the divergent stances taken on drug screening, read the articles by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force[2] and the American Society of Addiction Medicine.[3]



  • (1) Friedman PD. Screening and intervention for illicit drug abuse. Archives of Internal Medicine 2001 Jan 22;161(2):248-51.
  • (2) U.S.Preventive Services Task Force. Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, Screening for Drug Abuse. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 1996.
  • (3) American Society of Addiction Medicine. Public Policy Statement on Screening for Addiction in Primary Care Settings. Web 2006 January 16Available from: URL: