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What Is An Alcohol Use Screening?

Admitting you have a problem with alcohol can be difficult, as can determining whether your drinking has become disruptive enough to require professional treatment. One of the most effective ways to assess the extent of someone’s drinking and their risk for alcohol use is to take part in an alcohol use screening. This can be administered through your primary care provider to help both you and your doctor determine what type of treatment may be required to address your alcohol use. Screening for alcohol use and addiction gives doctors a chance to educate on alcohol use and provide patients who test positive for alcohol use with customized recommendations for treatment. The most common tools used to screen for alcohol use include:

  • Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): This is a 10-question screening tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to gather information about someone’s drinking habits through an interview format.
  • CAGE: This is a four-question screening tool that is not comprehensive by itself, but can indicate whether taking another test such as the AUDIT is warranted.
  • T-ACE: Like CAGE, T-ACE is comprised of four primary questions meant to assess the extent of a person’s drinking.

There are also several self-assessments for alcohol use that can be accessed online. However, these are not considered reliable indicators on their own. While you may screen as positive or negative for alcohol use via an online assessment, it is important to follow up with a doctor who can better assess your drinking habits and provide you with informed recommendations for treatment.

Why Are Alcohol Use Screenings Used?

Alcohol use tests can be helpful tools to assess whether someone’s drinking has become harmful to their health or wellbeing. Taking an alcohol screening can also be an easier way to begin a discussion about someone’s drinking. In the United States, an estimated 14.8 million people over the age of 12 have an alcohol use disorder. This translates to about 5.4 percent of the population. [inline_cta_one] It is common for people who use alcohol to be in denial of their problem or feel embarrassed to admit how much their drinking affects their lives. While screenings like AUDIT, CAGE, and T-ACE rely on a person to tell the truth about their drinking habits, these can still be effective tools for learning more about someone’s drinking patterns. Through alcohol use screenings, a clinician can determine:

  • alcohol tolerance
  • whether someone is dependent on alcohol
  • presence of addiction
  • risk of developing a drinking problem
  • whether professional treatment for alcohol use is recommended

Alcohol Use Screenings: What You Can Expect

The purpose of alcohol use screenings is to get a clearer picture of someone’s drinking habits and how far-reaching the effects may be on that person’s daily life. This information is gathered through targeted questions that screen for signs and symptoms of alcohol use. Your doctor may ask questions regarding your physical health, mental health, mood, and inquire after how much and how often you drink. Examples of questions you may be asked within a screening for alcohol use include:

  • How often do you drink?
  • How much do you usually drink in a sitting?
  • Have you ever felt the need to cut down on how much you drink?
  • Has anyone you know (such as a friend, relative, or doctor) ever expressed concern about your drinking or suggested you cut down on your alcohol use?
  • Have you ever felt the need to have a drink upon waking in the morning to feel less nervous or to get rid of a hangover?

What you can expect from an alcohol screening may also depend on the type of screening used. The AUDIT is the most widely used screening tool in the United States. However, other assessments may also be used based on factors such as a patient’s age or the screening tool most preferred by a specific doctor.

Where Can You Get Tested For Alcohol Use?

The most accurate way to get screened for alcohol use is to see your primary care provider. Getting screened for alcohol use through a doctor can not only help you determine whether you have a drinking problem, but can also educate on your risk for developing one. It is not uncommon for people to be unaware of the harms associated with how much they typically drink. Heavy drinking and alcohol use can increase the risk for a number of health problems, including organ damage, certain cancers, and high blood pressure. It can also worsen other medical and mental health conditions. In any case, it is important for everyone to have an honest discussion about alcohol use with their doctor. If you screen positive for alcohol use, your doctor can help direct you to resources for treatment based on your answers and other personal needs.


If you or someone you know screens positive for alcohol use, some form of treatment will likely be recommended. Left untreated, alcohol use is a problem that can lead to serious health consequences, including alcohol dependence, addiction, and problems such as liver disease. At Vertava Health Texas, we offer a wide array of traditional and holistic alcohol treatment options for people who struggle with alcohol use and addiction. The most common starting point for people requiring alcohol use treatment is an inpatient or residential rehab program. Residential rehab can offer patients the structure and support that is often necessary to fully address many harms posed by alcohol use. This can include effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. By reaching out to our treatment specialists, we can help you or a loved one determine a treatment plan that best suits your personal needs. Don’t wait to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about alcohol use screenings and treatment options offered at Vertava Health Texas.