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Alcohol Assessment Test: What Is It For?

19 October, 2023

A doctor writing on her clipboard while talking to a woman

An alcohol assessment test aims to identify those suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). It helps many to get timely intervention for their condition. These tests are often standardised questionnaires done through interviews or self-report questionnaires. The results of these tests are used to objectively inform the individual of their risk level from their alcohol consumption. Additionally, they are used by medical professionals to devise treatment plans. Altogether, it helps individuals avoid the adverse effects of alcoholism.

Moreover, the results of these alcohol screenings make the community safer. These tests allow healthcare professionals to understand the drinking patterns of the individual. It lessens alcohol-caused accidents and raises awareness of the dangers of substance abuse. It saves people from the various health, social, and legal consequences caused by decreased inhibitions from alcoholism. This article will present the purpose, types, and procedures for an alcohol use disorder test.

Purpose of Alcohol Assessment Test

AUD is a medical condition wherein someone cannot stop or control their alcohol intake despite the consequences. A person suffering from AUD may show many symptoms of this disease. Those may vary from mild, moderate, or severe. An alcohol assessment test aims to identify these individuals. These tests are tools that provide an objective assessment of drinking habits and their effects on the person.

These screenings inform the individual of the risks their drinking habits cause. It also provides healthcare professionals with essential data about their alcohol consumption to identify if they have a problem. Through these tests, early intervention can occur, which lessens the adverse effects of alcohol misuse.

Furthermore, the data from alcohol screenings are studied by researchers to assess the effects of alcohol consumption. These studies aid policymakers in implementing rules for the betterment of the community. This may include education reforms or the creation of new penalties for alcohol-caused incidents. In total, this betters the community and aids in their protection from accidents at home, on the road, or at work.

Symptoms of Alcohol Misuse

Several symptoms may appear as a consequence of alcohol misuse. Knowing these can help identify alcohol use disorder early. These are some of them:

  • Incessant cravings for alcohol.
  • Growing liquor tolerance that may lead to overconsumption.
  • Inability to control the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption.
  • Appearance of withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, headache, insomnia, fever, and seizures.
  • Mood instability and irritability, which affects personal and work relationships.
  • Disregard for consequences and engaging in dangerous acts like drink driving and violence.
  • Failing to fulfil obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continuous liquor consumption despite health complications.

A doctor point to their tablet while talking to another person

Types of Alcohol Assessment Tests

Several alcohol assessment tests are available to help medical professionals objectively identify those with AUD. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) is one of the most widely used tests. The World Health Organization (WHO) developed it to assess the alcohol consumption habits of a person during the last 12 months. It consists of 10 items and asks about the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed and its effects on the person.

Another test is the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST). It consists of 25 questions and evaluates the severity, cravings, and impacts of alcohol on their daily life. Similarly to the AUDIT, it assigns points to the answers that add to the total score. Higher scores indicate a higher risk for alcohol-related problems.

Additionally, there are two yes or no questionnaires called CAGE and T-ACE. CAGE is an acronym for Cut Down Annoyed, Guild, Eye-opener. Meanwhile, T-ACE means Tolerance, Annoyed, Cut down, Eye-opener. Both tests ask questions corresponding to their letters. Two or more yes answers may indicate AUD. Its difference lies in that T-ACE is aimed at pregnant women.

Complementary Testing Methods

Medical professionals use several testing methods to solidify the results of the questionnaires. Firstly, the urine test is the most common method. Urine samples hold traces of alcohol for up to 24 hours or 72 hours after a heavy drinking session. Secondly, the mouth swab test has a detection window of 12 hours.

Thirdly, a breath test can measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels within 24 hours after consumption. Furthermore, hair follicle tests have the lengthiest detection window of 90 days. Lastly, blood tests can detect traces of alcohol in the blood within 12 hours. This is the most accurate method.

A woman filling out a form in front of a man with a urine sample next to her

Procedure for an Alcohol Assessment Test

Healthcare professionals administer alcohol assessment tests to many people. It can occur in primary care clinics, hospital emergency departments, and substance abuse rehabilitation centres. During the assessment, the interviewers may directly ask the questions to the person. Additionally, they may ask them to answer a self-report questionnaire.

After completing the test, the health experts will tally the scores and assess the results. Often, these answers are scored by a pointing system. Higher scores entail higher risks for AUD and the health complications that develop from it. Liver damage is the most common ailment from liquor consumption. Additionally, AUD leads to depression, dementia, and many forms of cancer.

However, there are limitations to the accuracy of these tests. There are times when people underreport or overstate their alcohol consumption. Shame, guilt, and denial are some reasons for this. This is why there are times when doctors also use blood, hair, and breath tests. Altogether, these tests help them create their treatment plan for the patient.

Treatment and Recovery

AUD treatment and recovery is a dynamic process. This often involves two treatments. First is alcohol detoxification, or removing alcohol from the body. During this process, the patient experiences their withdrawal symptoms under care to ensure their safety. Moreover, doctors sometimes give medication to discourage alcohol use and manage withdrawal symptoms to help during this period.

Next, behavioural therapy involves undergoing counselling and joining support groups. Counselling can be long-term or short-term. Some patients benefit from regular check-ups so doctors can monitor their condition. Finally, support from family and friends is vital as they provide encouragement and motivation to prevent relapse.

Conclusion

Alcohol assessment tests aid in the early intervention of those suffering from AUD. These tests help medical professionals objectively identify those at risk from excessive alcohol consumption. It also informs individuals of the effects brought on by their liquor consumption. Additionally, its accuracy is improved through other testing methods, such as hair, blood, and breath tests. This allows the individual to get early treatment and helps minimise alcohol-related harm in the community.

The assessment uses standardised questions that identify their alcohol intake patterns and their effect on their lives. From this, healthcare professionals can form suitable treatments for them. Recovery from AUD involves alcohol detoxification and behavioural therapy. To prevent AUD from developing, some may benefit from owning a personal alcohol breath test. A breathalyser may help them monitor their alcohol intake and see how different liquors affect them. BACtrack breathalysers are reliable devices that provide accurate BAC readings.

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