Identifying At-Risk Drinking or Drug Use With ONE Question – seriously?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has created an online tool — QUICK SCREEN — a single question — to help clinician’s screen their patients for at-risk drinking or drug use. [Note: "At-risk" drinking or drug use means "at risk" for developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction.]
This Quick Screen asks a simple question:
In the past YEAR, how many times have you used the following?
The choices include: alcohol, tobacco products, prescription drugs for non-medical reasons, and/or illegal drugs.
In the case of alcohol, for example, a man answering “more than five drinks in a day once or twice [in the past YEAR],” puts him in the at-risk drinking category. From there, the clinician can click on a link that takes him/her to NIAAA’s Clinician’s Guide: How to Help Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinicians Guide. If the Clinician were dealing with questions related to drugs or tobacco products, different resources for helping a patient are presented.
While this service was established for use by medical professionals (clinicians), anyone concerned about their own drinking or drug use patterns might find it a helpful starting point. Remember: all alcoholics, for example, go through a period of alcohol abuse (that’s what sets up the chemical and structural changes to the brain) and alcohol abuse starts with at-risk drinking. The sooner a person brings their at-risk drinking (or drug use) under control, the better.