A ROLE FOR PHARMACISTS

Since primary health care providers in Canada are hardpressed for time to engage in routine proactive screening, we should consider a role for pharmacies in this regard.

This is not a radical idea. Pharmacies already provide customers with the means to conduct routine blood pressure self-screening. With the right resources at hand, pharmacies could enable self-report screening for risky levels of alcohol and cannabis use.

They could also in turn provide prevention materials, offer brief interventions to facilitate self-change among moderate risk users, encourage individuals to discuss their alcohol or cannabis with primary care providers, or provide contact information for more intensive treatment resources in the community for those screened to be higher risk users.

Pharmacists have been shifting toward a more engaged relationship with their customers as evidenced by the increasing presence of consultation rooms on site.

Governments would of course need to compensate Pharmacists for these services. But the potential savings in down stream costs for relatively low upstream investment, make this an option worth exploring.