Planning and implementing screening and brief intervention for risky alcohol use : a step-by-step guide for primary care practices
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Planning and implementing screening and brief intervention for risky alcohol use : a step-by-step guide for primary care practices

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      Like hypertension or tobacco screening, alcohol screening and brief intervention (alcohol SBI) is a clinical preventive service. It identifies and helps patients who may be drinking too much. It involves:

      • A validated set of screening questions to identify patients’ drinking patterns,

      • A short conversation with patients who are drinking too much, and for patients with severe risk, a referral to specialized treatment as warranted.

      The entire service takes only a few minutes, is inexpensive, and may be reimbursable. Thirty years of research has shown that alcohol SBI is effective at reducing the amount of alcohol consumed by those who are drinking too much. Based on this evidence, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force5 and many other organizations have recommended that alcohol SBI be implemented for all adults in primary health care settings.

      Risky drinking can have many negative health effects including increasing the risk of hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers (breast, upper gastrointestinal tract, and colon), cirrhosis of the liver, injury, and violence. Risky drinking is also associated with increased body weight and can impair short- and long­ term cognitive function. Binge drinking is associated with a wide range of other health and social problems, including sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, and violent crime.

      Suggested citation: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Planning and Implementing Screening and Brief Intervention for Risky Alcohol Use: A Step-by-Step Guide for Primary Care Practices. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, 2014.


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