Medical History for Alcohol Problems
While talking with you about your medical history, your doctor might ask questions about your alcohol use. Questions might include the following:
- If you drink alcohol, when was the last time you drank beer, wine, or hard liquor? Did you get drunk? How many days a week do you drink? How many drinks do you have when you do drink?
- Does it take more alcohol to get you drunk than it has in the past? Have you had any blackouts? Do you ever drink to relieve the shakes?
- Do you sometimes feel a strong need to drink? Do you ever change your plans just so you can have a drink?
- Have you ever been told that (or ever wondered whether) you have a drinking problem?
- Has drinking ever caused problems for you, such as conflicts at work or at home? How do you feel about your drinking?
- Do you have a family history of alcohol use problems?
You might seek medical help for symptoms that you do not know are related to alcohol use. Your doctor might ask questions about these symptoms.
- Have you had problems sleeping?
- Have you had more headaches than usual?
- Have you had digestive system symptoms, such as diarrhea, belly pain, or indigestion?
- Have you noticed any changes in your heartbeat?
- Have you felt depressed or anxious lately?
- Have you had problems during sex?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening and counseling to reduce alcohol misuse by adults, including pregnant women. But after reviewing all of the research, the USPSTF has not recommended for or against routine screening and counseling to prevent or reduce alcohol misuse by teens.1 The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all adolescents should be screened for alcohol, tobacco, and drug use at every visit.2
For more information, see the topics Alcohol Abuse and Dependence or Alcohol and Drug Problems.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2004). Screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to reduce alcohol misuse. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsdrin.htm.
- Committee on Substance Abuse, American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). Substance use screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment for pediatricians. Pediatrics, 128(5): e1330–e1340.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction|
|Last Revised||January 18, 2012|
Last Revised: January 18, 2012
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