Screening for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are usually administered to people without current symptoms, but who may be at high risk for certain diseases or conditions

Screening Guidelines

Screening tests for alcohol abuse and alcoholism are the mainstay of diagnosis. They usually involve simple questionnaires, either verbally administered by a healthcare provider or given in written form. Several of the most commonly used are the CAGE, the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST), Self-Administered Alcoholism Screening Test (SAAST), The Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS), the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), and the T-ACE Test.

Some healthcare providers believe strongly in the significance of using a single question for screening: "When was the last time you had more than five drinks (for men) or four drinks (for women) in one day?" About 50% of all individuals who have a problem with drinking alcohol will answer "within three months" to this question.

References:

Alcohol screening: four screening steps. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/clinical/publichealth/alcohol/4steps.html. Accessed April 14, 2007.

Allen JP, Wilson VB, eds. Assessing Alcohol Problems: A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers. 2nd ed. US Department of Health and Human Services; 2003. Publication No. 03-3745. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Assesing%20Alcohol/index.htm. Accessed April 14, 2007.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

Screening for alcohol use and alcohol related problems. Alcohol Alert. No. 65. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa65/AA65.htm. Accessed April 15, 2007.

Screening tests. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh28-2/78-79.htm. Accessed April 14, 2007.



Last reviewed April 2007 by Janet Greenhut, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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