Head to the hospital with a broken bone or a bad bug, and you expect to answer questions about your allergies and health history. But soon, whether you visit the ER or the Dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, you’ll be asked how often you have six or more drinks and how frequently you’ve used illegal drugs in the past year.  

MGH isn’t the first hospital to screen for substance abuse. Boston Medical Center started asking these kinds of questions in its ER two decades ago, as have other local hospitals in recent years, including Beth Israel Deaconess, Brigham and Women’s, and the Lahey Clinic’s Addison Gilbert Hospital.


Dr. Timothy Wilens is the director of the Center for Addiction Medicine at Mass General.