The competency profile of frontline health care professionals for detection, early intervention and referral in patients with addiction problems



The global social cost of psychoactive substance abuse (PSA), including tobacco, was close to $40 billion in Canada in 2002.

When it comes to alcohol, the social costs are primarily attributable to non-dependent occasional alcohol abusers. These non-dependent individuals rarely seek help for problems related to their alcohol consumption, despite experiencing adverse consequences. It should be noted that traditional interventions developed for people with addictions do not meet the needs of those who have less severe substance problems. Frontline health care (FHC) settings are an entry point into the health care and social services system and are therefore an environment of choice for early intervention practices, commonly referred to as early interventions.

Our study is intended as a working tool and to facilitate discussion between the different actors.

80% of Québec's general population consulted a family doctor or other FHC professional in 2006, including an estimated 40% of gamblers and at-risk or problem alcohol and drug users.

Early intervention practice models (screening, detection, brief intervention and referral) were designed to meet the intervention needs of at-risk and non-dependent substance abusers and problem gamblers as well as to motivate drug and gambling addicts to seek treatment. Early intervention aims, therefore, to reduce the negative consequences related to substance use in non-dependent at-risk users, prevent the development of dependence in certain individuals, and open the door to treatment in the case of dependence.

Our study is intended as a working tool and to facilitate discussion between the different actors involved regarding the practices and competencies required for the successful implementation of frontline early intervention practices.

Main researcher

Thomas G. Brown, Douglas Hospital, McGill University

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: August 2009