St Vincent's Hospital, FairviewMental Health Addiction Service

Alcohol Problems

Alcohol problems can be identified by taking a thorough clinical history and the use of self-report or therapist administered screening tools.

Your doctor may suggest you have blood tests taken to check out your physical health.


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What to ask yourself about your alcohol use

 
    1. What type of alcohol? – beer / wine / spirits / cider / etc.
      .
    2. How much?  (Quantity)
      On a typical day, how much might you drink?
      What’s the most you would drink over a day?

      Be as accurate as you can. If you don’t know, keep a drinking diary for a few weeks
      .
    3. How often?   (Frequency)
      How many days would you drink in an average week?
      Again, be as accurate as you can- “a few drinks at the weekend” isn’t specific. What days? When does your weekend start or finish?
      .
    4. Pattern?
      Daily drinking or binge pattern?
      Drinking alone or in company?
      Periods of abstinence?
      Have you noticed changes in your drinking over time?
      .
    5. Associated problems?
      Physical / psychological /social / forensic / employment

AUDIT: this is a 10 item questionnaire developed by the World Health Organisation. It identifies both hazardous and harmful alcohol use


                               Audit Questionnaire                 Audit Guidelines           

You can also use an online app to keep a record of your intake and get feedback on your drinking – www.drinksmeter.ie

What is Problem / Hazardous / Harmful Drinking?

A pattern of alcohol use that is causing damage to health; the damage may be to physical or mental health. Any 1 of the following in a 12 month period indicates problem drinking:, providing the person is not alcohol dependent.

  • Drinking interfering with a persons ability to fulfil work, school or home life obligations
  • Drinking in physically hazardous situations
  • Legal problems as a result of drinking e.g. drunk driving, drunk and disorderly
  • Continuing to drink despite social or personal problems caused by or made worse by drinking

What is Alcohol Dependence?

Alcohol dependence is when a person has experienced any 3 of the following in a 12-month period:

  • A strong desire or sense of compulsion to drink
  • Unable to control drinking or cut down
  • Drinking larger amounts of alcohol over a longer time than intended
  • Physical withdrawal state when alcohol use has stopped or been reduced.
    The person may drink alcohol when having physical symptoms (such as shakes, sweating etc.) or take a substitute substance to relieve symptoms
  • Evidence of tolerance – where it takes more alcohol to have the same effect
  • Prior pleasures or interests reduced or given up because of time spent drinking and increased amount of time used to obtain alcohol or to recover from its effects
  • Persisting with drinking despite clear evidence of very harmful consequences caused by or made worse by alcohol

Diagnostic_Criteria for alcohol abuse (DSM), Harmful use of alcohol (ICD) and alcohol dependence (DSM & ICD) are available to view and download from www.who.int