Substance misuse on the curriculum
The way medical students are taught about how to spot and deal with substance misuse is getting a makeover
Young doctors are demonstrably bad at spotting people with alcohol dependence. The literature is full of references to the limited awareness of students and junior doctors on the subject, and what they should do when faced with a patient with substance misuse.1 Perhaps this is not so surprising in the United Kingdom because there has been little formal timetabled teaching on substance misuse.2 Although substance misuse is covered in the psychiatry curriculum, research shows that the amount it is taught varies considerably between schools.
“I spent some time in detox at a mental health trust, and there were a couple of medical students, and they appeared to be pretty naive about the whole subject,” said Michael, a recovering alcoholic. It is true that many of us will have preconceptions of an alcoholic sitting on a park bench with a can of super strength lager—not someone young and holding down a