TWO EASY QUESTIONS TO SEE IF YOU ARE ABUSING ALCOHOL
Posted on July 10, 2014 | By Henry | Leave a response
Forget long questionnaires – just two questions are enough for doctors to determine if a patient is abusing alcohol.
The University of Leicester in the UK analysed the results of 17 studies and found that asking “how often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion” and “as a result of your drinking or drug use, did anything happen in the last year that you wish didn’t happen”, was enough to accurately detect alcohol abuse in 80 percent of cases.
The study involved a total of 5646 respondents and accuracy was improved to 91 percent when doctors added four more questions:
‘Have you ever felt the need to cut down on your drinking?’
‘Have people annoyed you by criticising your drinking’
‘Have you ever felt guilty about drinking?’
‘Have you ever felt you needed a drink first thing in the morning?’
Professor Michael Farrell, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, told ninemsn that doctors could use these simple questions to help people change their behaviour and stop it getting worse.
“The idea would be having a brief intervention, where you would provide some brief advice that might trigger behaviour change,” he said.
“Doctors can then make them aware of the connections with health, like blood pressure and weight, and what would be the benefits of changing. They might suggest targets they might set for themselves and get them to come back for a review.”
In Australia, doctors are advised to start with three questions and, if they suspect a person could have a problem, they ask them 10 questions that have been approved by the World Health Organisation.
But Professor Dan Lubman from the Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Centre told ninemsn even one question would be better than none.
“There is a general reluctance amongst GPs to ask about alcohol,” he said.
“Even when people do present to a health professional, less than one in five people who have an alcohol problem actually get screened or assessed.
“Alcohol is the biggest drug issue we have in our community and doctors asking about it can allow somebody to start a conversation.”
Professor Lubman said that alcohol is such an accepted part of our culture that a lot of people don’t realise the negative effect it is having on their life.
“We live in a culture of intoxication and this idea of getting off-your-face is so normalised that people don’t think it’s a problem,” he said.
“It can lead to falling over and hurting yourself or saying something you wouldn’t normally or missing work or messing up a relationship or being in a car accident.
“Often we think it’s good fun to go out drinking, but often it leads to very negative outcomes.”
Professor Lubman said we don’t need to wait for a doctor to ask: regularly checking in with ourselves about our alcohol consumption can be a good way of ensuring alcohol consumption does not get out of control.
“It’s important we all step back and ask, ‘What is my drinking behavior like and is it creating any problems for me and is it interfering in my life or causing more harm than I anticipate?'” he said.
The study was published in the British Journal of General Practice.