Primary Care at the Intersection of Lifestyle Interventions and Unhealthy Substance Use

Lindsay Nakaishi, Steven G. Sugden, Gia Merlo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Primary care physicians are well-positioned to integrate lifestyle interventions into the management of patients with unhealthy substance use, who may also have mental and physical chronic health comorbidities. However, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the U.S.’s poor state of health, revealing that its current approach to chronic disease management is neither effective nor sustainable. Today’s full spectrum comprehensive care model requires an expanded toolkit. Lifestyle interventions broaden current treatment approaches and may enhance Addiction Medicine care. Primary care providers have the potential to have the greatest impact on unhealthy substance use care because they are experts in chronic disease management and their frontline accessibility minimizes healthcare barriers. Individuals with unhealthy substance use are at an increased risk of chronic physical conditions. Incorporating lifestyle interventions with unhealthy substance use care at every level of medicine, from medical school through practice, normalizes both as part of the standard care of medicine and will drive evidence-based best practices to support patients through prevention, treatment, and reversal of chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-501
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • addiction medicine
  • addiction psychiatry
  • lifestyle interventions
  • medical education
  • medical training
  • primary care
  • substance use disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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