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What is an Alcohol Screening?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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The term alcohol screening usually refers to a written test that one takes in order to determine whether he suffers from alcoholism problems or not. An alcohol screening can also refer to a physiological test that is given to someone suspected of being illegally drunk. Alcoholism is a major problem in many countries; the tools used to detect it help many people realize that they have a problem and that they need help. Alcohol screenings are often administered by counselors to determine if patients need help with alcohol dependence problems. Sometimes, individuals who suspect that they have an alcohol problem take the screening without prompting to confirm or to refute their suspicions.

An alcohol screening is usually a relatively short and simple questionnaire that consists primarily of questions about an individual's alcohol use. The specific nature of the questions vary, but they usually relate to social, legal, and personal problems caused by drinking. If one has lost a job, been imprisoned, or strained his relationship with a loved one because of alcohol consumption, for example, the alcohol screening may indicate the presence of a problem. This is especially true if several different problems are revealed through the screening. In this case, it is generally advisable for one to seek professional help for his alcohol problems.

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One common and short alcohol screening is a four question test referred to as the CAGE test. It asks if one believes that he should Cut down on his drinking, if people have become Annoyed with one's drinking, if one has ever felt Guilty about one's drinking, and if one ever needs to drink alcohol as an Eye-opener in the morning to deal with a hangover. This test is effective at detecting severe cases of alcoholism but it sometimes misses less profound cases.

Some alcohol screenings, particularly those used in law enforcement, are intended to detect the presence of alcohol in one's system for legal reasons. Breath analyzers, for example, are used to estimate one's blood alcohol content based on the amount of alcohol on his breath. These are commonly used to determine if an individual is driving while drunk, drunk in public, or drinking under the legal age. Blood tests and urine tests can indicate one's blood alcohol content more precisely, allowing for greater precision in law-enforcement. Even those convicted of alcohol-related crimes are often directed to some kind of counseling to help them to deal with their alcohol dependence problems.

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