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Handouts & questionnaires for alcohol use disorders

Here are a series of information and assessment handouts on alcohol.  For additional information, note that the blog has a whole series of posts on the crucial importance of lifestyle choices, including how we use or abuse alcohol

Alcohol disorder assessment - two question screen - this is a useful two question screen for alcohol problems.  Other options include the well-known four question CAGE.

Alcohol disorder assessment - AUDIT and scoring - this is the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) developed by the World Health Organization to help identify people whose alcohol consumption has become hazardous or harmful to their health.

Damage caused by alcohol - this one page handout highlights some of the worrying and significant damage caused by excessive alcohol use.

The CAGE questionnaire as a screen for alcohol problems

An article in one of this month's editions of the Journal of the American Medical Association celebrates the publication of the CAGE alcohol screening questionnaire by Charles Ewing 25 years ago.  CAGE is a mnemonic to help remember the four simple questions.  "Have you ever ...

1.) felt the need to cut down your drinking?
2.) felt annoyed by criticism of your drinking?
3.) had guilty feelings about drinking?
4.) taken a morning eye opener?

An affirmative answer to 2 or 3 of these questions makes an alcohol problem likely, while a score of 4 suggests a diagnosis of alcoholism is almost certain. 

The questions can be used in most clinical settings to identify people who need to be checked out more fully.  In the United States, 30% of primary care physicians report  regularly screening for substance abuse.  Of these physicians 55% use the CAGE.  See too the January blog posting on The demon drink. 

Vegged out & fruitless: lifestyle & health

Last month's BMJ published another in the long line of research articles that highlight the huge importance of lifestyle choices for our health:

Dam, R. M. v., T. Li, et al. (2008). "Combined impact of lifestyle factors on mortality: prospective cohort study in US women." BMJ 337(sep16_2): a1440-  [Free Full Text]

Would you like to be 14 years younger – it’s largely a matter of choice!

Back in January I wrote a blog post entitle "Does a healthy lifestyle really make a difference? "   I highlighted that it makes a hell of a lot of a difference.  At around that time another major study was published that hammered this point home even more thoroughly and I've been meaning to mention it in a post ever since.  The recent publicity on poor fruit and veg intake in the UK population triggered me into looking the earlier study out. 

Alcohol & food

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage

- Lao Tzu

Here are a series of information and assessment handouts on alcohol and food.  "We are what we eat" is bit over-simplified, but only a bit.  It's amazing how important what we eat and drink is for our psychological and physical health.  This site's blog posts  "New research shows diet's importance for preventing depression" and "Preventing cancer through life style choices" make this point well and also provide links with many other sources of information.  Searching the tag cloud brings up much recent relevant research and advice.  Try clicking, for example, on

Organization of teratology information specialists (OTIS)

Teratology is the study of the effects that drugs, medications, chemicals and other exposures may have on the unborn child during pregnancy.  Particulary when a mother is taking a medication that is helping her stay well, it can be a difficult decision whether or not to stop taking the medication because of a possible risk to the fetus ... or because of a possible risk that could be transmitted through breastfeeding.  This decision is made harder because we know that if a pregnant woman becomes unwell, for example with depression, this too risks damaging the fetus, so it's not necessarily the case that stopping medication is going to be in the unborn baby's best interest.

Does healthy lifestyle really make much difference?

In an earlier post (January 3, 08), I looked at how common sense isn’t common, at least for healthy behaviours. Only about 3% of the population are ticking all the right boxes for non-smoking, alcohol use, exercise, weight and diet. This is interesting and maybe surprising, but does it really matter much?

Common sense isn’t common

Common sense isn’t common, at least with healthy behaviours. The vast majority of us know that we should eat sensibly, be a reasonable weight, exercise regularly, not abuse alcohol, and avoid smoking. Do you know what percentage of people actually follow all this obvious advice? A survey (Reeves and Rafferty 2005) of over 153,000 US adults in 2000 found that only 3% ticked all four boxes when asked if they didn’t smoke, were a healthy weight (body mass index, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by square of height in meters, 18.5 to 25.0), consumed 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables daily, and exercised in leisure time for at least 30 minutes, 5 or more times per week (this includes brisk walking).

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