Community Rounds
March 23, 2022

Alcohol Use Disorder in the Primary Care Setting: Best Practices for Rural Communities


Christine Chasek, PhD,
John Brooklyn, MD,
Denise O’Connell, MSW,
Mary Lindsey Smith, PhD, MSW

Our speakers are Christine Chasek, PhD, John Brooklyn, MD, Denise O’Connell, MSW, and Mary Lindsey Smith, PhD, MSW. This presentation focuses on treating alcohol use disorder (AUD) in rural primary care settings. Our panel addresses the extent of rural alcohol use, specific rural barriers to treatment, clinical management of AUD, and best practices for treatment program design.

Learning objectives:​

  1. Understand the importance of screening in novel ways for mental health and substance use in rural communities
  2. Discuss ways rural communities can spread awareness about AUD
  3. Understand the biological basis for treating people who use alcohol with medications in the office
  4. Learn how to reframe the message around alcohol ingestion
  5. Understand organizational and provider-level barriers to addressing unhealthy alcohol use in rural primary care settings as well as successful strategies that can be implemented to mitigate these challenges
  6. Describe the necessary steps to create and coordinate an effective and efficient team-based practice model for alcohol screening and patient care in rural primary care practices


Christine Chasek

Christine Chasek, PhD,

Christine Chasek, PhD, LIMHP, LADC, is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Counseling Department at the University of Nebraska Omaha and Associate Workforce Director of the Behavioral Healthcare Center of Nebraska. Dr. Chasek has strong rural roots and is a practicing mental health and addictions counselor with experience in behavioral health care administration, most recently focusing on developing the behavioral healthcare workforce in rural Nebraska. Her research interests include rural behavioral health issues, addiction counseling, counselor preparation, and clinical outcomes. Dr. Chasek serves on the Nebraska Alcohol and Drug Licensing Board, is President elect of the International Association of Addiction and Offender Counselors, and serves on several local community boards. 

John Brooklyn

John Brooklyn, MD,

Dr. Brooklyn is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Addiction Medicine. He has been a strong advocate for integrating people with substance use disorders into medical homes and conceived of the nationally recognized Hub and Spoke model to seamlessly treat opioid use disorders. He is on the UVM Medical Center Family Medicine and Psychiatry faculty as an Assistant Clinical Professor and has been involved with the research of heroin, tobacco, and cocaine use treatments there since 1992. His work helped lead to the approval of buprenorphine for opioid users. He is a national mentor for opioid use and substance use disorder treatment and a trainer for students, residents and faculty members throughout the United States. His interests remain in primary care, preventative care, the interface of behavior and health, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, treatment of substance use disorders, mindfulness, and motivational interviewing.

Denise O’Connell, MSW,

Denise O’Connell, MSW, is a clinical social worker, certified case manager and chronic care professional health coach. She has a broad base of experience as a social work planner and presenter for educational programs including nursing, interprofessional and support staff educational programs.  Her experience includes managing interprofessional teams in sub-acute and community-based care settings, leading accreditation teams, and program development.  She leads the development, implementation, and assessment of two programs at the Lunder-Dineen Health Education Alliance of Maine. She serves as the boots on the ground presence for Lunder-Dineen, identifying and building relationships with key interested parties in Maine to create communication mechanisms for continuously receiving feedback and for implementing changes to the plan as the program evolves. Denise provides onsite coaching to program sites.

Mary Lindsey Smith

Mary Lindsey Smith, PhD, MSW

Dr. Smith is Director of Substance Use Research & Evaluation and a Senior Research Associate at the University of Southern Maine Catherine Cutler Institute, where she is responsible for designing and implementing health services research and evaluation projects related to addressing substance use disorder. Most of her research and evaluation work has focused on macro-level issues and has been designed to help systems reduce illness burden as well as healthcare utilization and costs. She has extensive research and clinical expertise in the area of substance use and behavioral health disorders, which has been the primary focus of her research agenda for over 20 years. She has experience designing and managing research and evaluation projects at the local, state, and federal levels and has worked on projects funded by the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, Veterans Administration, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Human Resources & Services Administration, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Institute of Justice.