Alcohol Misuse Screening – Significance and Purpose
11 October, 2023
Alcohol misuse screenings are vital to the health of individuals and the community. Its purpose is to identify people with alcohol use disorders and provide timely intervention and support for their conditions. Liquor abuse manifests many symptoms that are detrimental to the health. However, people cannot control their consumption because of the addiction and withdrawal symptoms they experience. Thus, detecting early indications and preventing them from worsening allows the community to have healthy individuals and lessens alcohol-caused accidents.
Screenings are often done in hospital emergency departments and primary care clinics. They are questionnaires that are administered through interviews or self-report forms. The results from the screening provide healthcare practitioners with data to adapt to their treatment plans. These involve alcohol detoxification and behavioural therapy to prevent relapse. This article will give an overview of the significance and purpose of alcohol screenings and the procedure. It will also present treatment and recovery from alcohol misuse.
Alcohol Misuse Screening: Significance and Purpose
Alcohol use disorder is excessive and problematic alcohol consumption that the person cannot control. This can range from mild, moderate, or severe. There are many symptoms, and if left untreated, it results in many physical and mental health conditions. However, the individual will continue abusing liquor despite that. Alcohol misuse screening helps identify those suffering from alcohol abuse and dependency.
This allows healthcare professionals to identify who is suffering from alcohol abuse. It also provides them with information about the drinking patterns of the patient and the effects of their alcohol consumption on their life. This enables them to get support and treatment for the disorder.
Furthermore, the data from screening tests are studied by researchers. The results of those studies inform policymakers about the rules they need to implement for the betterment of society. This allows the community to be safer and more protected against the adverse effects of overconsumption of alcohol. It can lessen the occurrence of accidents at home, on the road, or at work.
Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
There are several symptoms of alcohol use disorder. Identifying these can be vital for early intervention. These are some of them:
- hard-to-ignore cravings for alcohol
- growing tolerance to alcohol leading to overconsumption
- inability to control the amount and frequency of drinking alcoholic beverages
- withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, diarrhoea, and seizures
- unsuccessful attempts at quitting or reducing alcohol intake
- mood instability and irritability, leading to strained relationships
- continuous alcohol consumption, regardless of its effects on their work, school, and social obligations
- increase in risky behaviours, such as drink driving and violence
- disregard of health complications caused by excessive alcohol consumption
Alcohol Misuse Screening: Procedure
Alcohol misuse screenings involve asking sets of questions to an individual. Usually, doctors supervise these screenings. It may be done in different places. Settings include primary care clinics, hospital emergency departments, and substance abuse rehabilitation centres. Moreover, questions can be administered through interviews or using self-report questionnaires.
Moreover, the questions in these tests are usually related to the frequency and amount of alcohol that the individual consumed within a period. Additionally, it may inquire about the effects of alcohol on the individual. Afterwards, the health experts assess and analyse the answers to get the results. These tests provide an objective assessment of the alcohol consumption of the patient.
However, there are limitations to question-based screening. Sometimes, the tool may not capture enough details. Additionally, people may underreport or overstate their alcohol consumption due to shame, guilt, or denial. To help with this, doctors can do additional tests like urine, blood, hair, saliva, and breath screenings to solidify their results and gain more information.
Different Screening Tests
There are many tests used for screening alcoholism. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) is a ten-item questionnaire that inquires about the frequency and amount of alcohol consumed by the individual. Additionally, it asks about the effects of consumption on the person.
Furthermore, the Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST) is another screening method consisting of 25 questions. It assesses the severity, cravings, and effects of alcohol on a person. Meanwhile, CAGE (Cut, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye) and T-ACE (Tolerance, Annoyed Cut down, Eye-opener) are other screening tests that use yes or no questions. However, T-ACE is aimed towards pregnant women.
Alcohol Misuse Screening: Treatment and Recovery
Early detection using alcohol misuse screening is ideal to lessen the effects of excessive alcohol consumption. Withdrawal symptoms become worse depending on the level of alcohol dependence. Fortunately, information gathered from screening tests can help healthcare professionals formulate treatment. This enables them to create their plans specifically for the individual for the most effective rehabilitation.
Alcohol detoxification is the slow or abrupt cessation of alcohol intake. During this, the person has to overcome the withdrawal symptoms to remove alcohol from their body. Some may require medical supervision during this to manage the symptoms, especially severe ones like seizures. Sometimes, medicine is prescribed to lessen the effects, discourage alcohol use, and prevent relapse.
Doctors also use behavioural therapy during rehabilitation. Counselling and support group sessions help reduce alcohol use. Moreover, patients need reliable support systems in their families and friends. These people can provide motivation and encouragement through their recovery period. Finally, doctors can schedule regular check-ups to monitor their condition and identify signs of relapse.
Risk Factors for Alcohol Misuse
Some risk factors make a person more prone to alcohol abuse. Firstly, those who frequently drink alcoholic beverages have increased risks of developing the disorder. This is especially true for those who participate in binge drinking.
Secondly, those with relatives who have alcohol problems are more likely to have a disorder as well. Additionally, those with friends or partners who drink regularly are more prone to misusing alcohol. Thirdly, drinking early in life increases the risks of alcohol dependence. Lastly, people with mental health conditions are more likely to abuse alcohol. This includes those with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Communities benefit from conducting alcohol misuse screenings. It protects the individual and also lessens accidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption. There are many adverse effects brought on by uncontrolled alcohol intake, like heart disease, liver disease, and cancer. Thus, an objective assessment may prove helpful to the individual. It may allow them to identify the risks of their alcohol consumption. Additionally, it aids healthcare professionals in devising treatment plans for those with alcohol dependency.
Furthermore, the limitations of these questionnaires can be supplemented by other tests. Accurate results enable prompt intervention and provide policymakers with information to implement policies for the benefit of the community. It is also vital for support systems to be aware of the person’s condition. This allows them to provide encouragement and motivation during rehabilitation. They can also aid in intervention if they know the alcohol abuse symptoms.