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Make the Diagnosis: Alcohol Abuse

Prior Probability

Data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism suggest that 3 of 10 adults engage in risky drinking behaviors. In primary care clinics, the prevalence will be around 11% to 18%.

Populations for Whom Problem Drinking Should Be Assessed

  • All adults (see Tables 4-9 and 4-10)

  • Targeted populations/conditions requiring assessment include pregnant women (see Table 4-11), adolescents, and emergency patients

Table 4-9Detecting the Likelihood of At-risk, Harmful, or Hazardous Drinking in Adults
Table 4-10Detecting the Likelihood of Alcohol Abuse or Dependence in Adultsa
Table 4-11Detecting the Likelihood of 2 or More Drinks/Day During Pregnancya

Reference Standard Tests

Diagnostic interview schedule for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition,2 interview performed by an experienced provider in an alcohol-related interview.

Original Article: Does This Patient Have an Alcohol Problem?

Clinical Scenario

A 58-year-old man was admitted to the hospital for an elective cholecystectomy. ...

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