April 12, 2021
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a systemic problem insofar as it affects not just those individuals in the grip of it, but also the networks of people, organizations and communities touched by it.
Accordingly, screening is a major tool of community outreach, with designated screening centers located around the country at colleges, businesses, government buildings, military installations, community centers and drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Screenings are also available online at any time.
While there are no risks or obligations incurred by taking the test, a screening can be a wake-up call which leads to further treatment.
Some people might simply be unaware of the full risks of alcohol. Others, due to denial or just inattention, might not realize the extent of their drinking. The tests are designed to reveal these insights, investing them with lifesaving potential.
Once drinking patterns are assessed through the test, individuals can consult with addiction professionals to learn more about the level of risk and treatment options available. In this way, screening can be a crucial first step to a life free from alcohol.
The most popular model is AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), put out by the World Health Organization (WHO). Consisting of ten questions, AUDIT screens for harmful alcohol consumption, identifying patterns both of excessive drinking and alcohol dependence:
• How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
• How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?
• How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
• How often during the last year have you found that you were unable to stop drinking once you have started?
• How often during the last year did you fail to do what is normally expected of you because of drinking?
• How often during the last year have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
• How often during the last year have you needed an alcoholic drink first thing in the morning to get yourself going after a night of heavy drinking?
• How often during the last year have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking
• Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
• Has a relative, friend, doctor, or another health professional expressed concern about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
Another useful screening test is CAGE. Derived from the four questions (Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye-opener), it serves as a preliminary assessment determining whether further screening is warranted and easing individuals into the process. Its questions are also adaptable to substance abuse generally:
• Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?
• Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
• Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
• Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves (an eye opener)?
Additionally, Recovery Centers of America offers its own Alcohol Addiction Quiz to help people put their potentially problematic drinking patterns into perspective.
If the results of an alcohol screening reveal a problematic drinking pattern calling out for change, or if the need for help is reached by any other route, treatment options are available.
Here are some services offered by the world-class facilities of Recovery Centers of America in Devon, PA, and Mays Landing, NJ.
Medically monitored detoxification. After a prolonged period of heavy drinking, the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be difficult to endure. RCA allows for alcohol detox in a secure, comforting place.
Residential inpatient treatment. Once the body is safely detoxed of alcohol in a therapeutic environment, over a period of three to seven days, AUD patients then typically move to residential inpatient care.
Outpatient or digital health treatment. Outpatient programs (including digital health options) let patients maintain their personal and professional schedules while receiving one individual and one group session per week, at least for the first year of recovery.
Ongoing recovery support. Patients can also maintain a long-term recovery community through a 12-Step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as RCA’s Alumni Association, which allows its patients to stay committed and connected for a lifetime of recovery.