Alcohol Screening and Counseling infographic

Alcohol Screening and Counseling infographic
Updated Jan. 7, 2014
About 38 million adults in the US drink too much. Only 1 in 6 has talked about it with a health professional.

Drinking too much is defined as any alcohol consumed by pregnant women and people under age 21. It also includes binge drinking and high weekly average drinking. Binge drinking refers to men drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks and women drinking 4 or more, within 2-3 hours. High weekly average for men is 15 or more drinks and for women 8 or more drinks.


Key steps in alcohol screening and brief counseling
  • The key steps in alcohol screening and brief counseling include
    1. Ask patients about their drinking
    2. Talk with patients in plain language about what they think is good and not so good about their drinking
    3. Provide options: ask if patient wants to stop drinking, cut down, seek help, or continue with their present drinking pattern and come up with a plan.
    4. Close on good terms regardless of patient response
  • Screening and counseling should occur in many places including primary care practices, obstetrics/gynecology practices, emergency departments and trauma centers
  • Making sure it happens in routine medical practices includes five steps:
    1. Make sure staff understands that most patients who drink too much need brief counseling but may not need specialized alcoholic treatment.
    2. Involve and build support with others in the medical practice, using current guidelines.
    3. Develop a plan with them to make it part of standard service.
    4. Train staff on how to screen and provide brief counseling.
    5. Pilot test the plan to see if it works and change it as needed.