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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » How to decide whether or not you’re a drunk

How to decide whether or not you’re a drunk

Single Question Can Identify Unhealthy Alcohol Use In Patients

The NIAAA recommends a single-question screen for unhealthy alcohol use. The recommended question asks, “How many times in the past year have you had X or more drinks in a day?” (where X is 5 for men and 4 for women). While similar single-question screens have been validated in various settings, the NIAAA recommended screening test had not been validated in the primary-care setting. BMC researchers attempted to validate this version of the screening question in a sample of primary-care patients.

Of the 286 study participants reviewed, unhealthy alcohol use was reported by 31 percent of participants. Six percent consumed risky amounts but did not have alcohol-related problems or a disorder, 13 percent consumed risky amounts and had problems but no current disorder and 12 percent had a current alcohol use disorder. The single-question screen was 81.8 percent sensitive and 79.3 percent specific for the detection of unhealthy alcohol use. It was slightly more sensitive and less specific for the detection of a current alcohol use disorder.

I call shenanigans on this – things are never this black and white, especially for something like addiction. This seems like a really good question to ask if determining whether or not someone is in/was in a problematic phase, and use it with other evidence to decide whether or not alcoholism is the case.

The symptoms and indicators of alcoholism vary from person to person. A lot of people drink a lot in college (amounts that would qualify them as alcoholics) but go on to lead normal lives after they graduate.

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