Many people think that alcoholism and alcohol addiction are characterized by drinking heavily to the point of intoxication several times a week. It often comes as a surprise to learn that “healthy drinking” is defined as drinking no more than 2 drinks per day for men and just 1 drink per day for women and if you are exceeding that limit, you may have a drinking problem. Although you may not feel that a drink or two after work is a problem, consistently drinking this much, or more, can be an indication that you have a drinking problem and should speak to a doctor or health professional.
In an appointment for alcohol screening, your doctor will discuss your alcohol consumption with you and will ask you specific questions about your drinking based on an industry standard questionnaire. One of the most common screening tools is the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), developed by the World Health Organization. The AUDIT was developed to help doctors screen for indications of unhealthy drinking and to better identify specific consequences of drinking. A shorter version of the addiction screening test, the AUDIT-C, asks 3 multiple choice questions about your drinking, with each answer worth a certain number of points. Below are the 3 questions, take a minute to see how you score.
- How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
- Never (0 points)
- Monthly or less (1 point)
- 2 to 4 times a month (2 points)
- 2-3 times a week (3 points)
- 4 or more times a week (4 points)
- How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day of drinking?
- 1 or 2 (0 points)
- 3 or 4 (1 point)
- 5 or 6 (2 points)
- 7 to 9 (3 points)
- 10 plus (4 points)
- How often do you have five or more drinks on one occasion?
- Never (0 points)
- Less than monthly (1 point)
- Monthly (2 points)
- Weekly (3 points)
- Daily or almost daily (4 points)
A score of 4 or more for men and 3 or more for women and anyone over the age of 65 indicates that you might have a drinking problem and should change your drinking habits. Talk to your doctor about how to reduce your consumption or if you are ready to quit and need some assistance, reach out to an alcohol treatment facility to discuss your next steps. Even if your total is below the recommended score but you have questions about how alcohol is affecting your health, it’s important to talk about this with your physician. A quick conversation today could prevent a bigger problem tomorrow.