If you or your health care provider suspects you have a drinking problem, you should consider an alcohol assessment, also called an alcohol screening or alcohol evaluation.
What Is An Alcohol Assessment?
An alcohol assessment is a screening tool to help determine whether you struggle with alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder. It can also help identify:
- the severity of your alcohol problem
- how your alcohol problem affects your life and loved ones
- whether you have any co-occurring mental health disorders
- the type of treatment you need
What To Expect From An Alcohol Assessment
There are multiple types of alcohol assessments. The test you’ll receive depends on factors such as:
- your specific symptoms and/or concerns
- your clinician’s experience
- the time available
All alcohol assessments include questions about your relationship with alcohol and how it impacts your life. Depending on the assessment and your needs, you may provide your answers verbally or through writing. Some assessments can also be completed online.
Your assessment may be administered by a doctor, nurse, social worker, therapist, psychologist, or other professional. If your answers indicate you have a drinking problem, you’ll need further evaluation so you can get an official diagnosis and professional treatment.
The most common alcohol assessments include:
The CAGE questionnaire is one of the most popular alcohol assessment tools because it’s brief and simple. It consists of four questions that form the acronym CAGE:
- Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?
- Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
- Have you ever felt Guilty about drinking alcohol?
- Have you ever needed a drink as soon as you woke up (Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
If you answer “yes” to at least two of these questions, you’ll need further evaluation by a health care provider.
Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST)
The MAST is one of the oldest and most effective alcohol screening tools. It includes 25 questions about alcohol use, such as:
- Have you ever gotten into physical fights when drinking?
- Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?
- Have you ever lost a job because of drinking?
- Have you ever been hospitalized because of drinking?
- Have you ever gone to anyone for help with your drinking?
For some of the questions, you’ll receive 1 point if you answer “no.” For other questions, you’ll receive 1 point if you answer “yes.”
If you receive 6 or more points in total, you’ll need further evaluation.
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
Developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the AUDIT can identify an alcohol problem that’s occurred within the last year. It includes 10 questions, such as:
- 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 not able to stop drinking once you had started?
- Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
- Has a relative or friend, or a doctor or other health worker, been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
Each question is multiple choice. For example, the possible answers for “How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?” are:
- “Monthly or less”
- “2 to 4 times a month”
- “2 to 3 times a week”
- “4 or more times a week”
Depending on your answers, the first eight questions can receive 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 points each. The last two questions can receive 0, 2, or 4 points each.
A score of 8 or more suggests you have an alcohol problem and need further evaluation.
If you think you or a loved one might have a drinking problem, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. We offer inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and addiction treatment services, including mental health counseling, medical detox, and support groups.