Assessing Substance Abuse

Assessing Substance Abuse

Unlike diabetes or heart disease, addiction can’t be detected definitively through a diagnostic test. In many other ways issues related to substance abuse mimic those of typical medical diseases. Just as dentists often play important roles in the management of common chronic conditions, so can the profession assist patients suffering from compulsive use of drugs or alcohol. Helping identify such patients in the dental setting is the subject of a series of CE presentations by DOCS Education faculty member Dr. John Hexem, the first of which is available now. Part 1 is called “Assessing Substance Abuse.”

A board-certified anesthesiologist, Dr. Hexem possesses both MD and PhD degrees, the latter earned in chemistry. That foundation gives him a unique perspective from which to study a field that is evolving in myriad ways across multiple fronts. Lack of shared definitions, which can vary from one governmental agency to the next, complicate progress in the field. But many advances are taking place as well. One is the ability to look inside the brain through electronic imaging. Now researchers can hone in on the brain’s pleasure pathways, neurotransmitters such as dopamine. Evidence yields clarity on both sides of the spectrum—-the extent of the damage caused by addiction along with the brain’s capacity to heal following recovery.

Dr. Hexem’s first presentation addresses definitions, terminology and the epidemiology of addiction. The course offers one hour of credit.

Purchase of this course grants access for one year.

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