Healthcare providers play an important role in identifying risky drinking patterns and helping patients understand that excessive drinking puts their health at risk.
Screening for alcohol use identifies whether patient’s drinking places them at risk for injury or health problems. Screening provides an opportunity to identify patients who might benefit from a more depth assessment and intervention for their drinking behaviors.
There are several recommended screening tools that can easily be delivered in any healthcare setting.
We Need to Know Three Things About Our Patients:
Screen Positive or Negative: Does drinking create a risk for the patient or others? Patient’s whose drinking presents some risk to themselves or others should receive an intervention. Screening is an objective means to determine whether a patient requires such help.
Problems: Can we connect a patient’s drinking with something else considered a problem? The effectiveness of an intervention may be strengthened by connecting patients’ drinking with something he/she recognize to be a problem, such as an injury or condition that led to their hospital visit.
Likely Dependent: Is the patient likely alcohol-dependent? Knowing whether a patient is likely dependent on alcohol is important for guiding the patient in the right direction. For patients that are not likely dependent, a brief intervention will often be sufficient to help reduce drinking to safe levels.
Source: A Step by Step Implementation Guide for Trauma Centers, CDC
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