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At least 38 million adults in the US drink too much, and most are not alcoholics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a push to increase use of alcohol screening and counseling by doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
Only 1 in 6 Americans talk to their health professional about their drinking habits, says the federal agency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has previously reported that excessive alcohol consumption causes premature death (an average of 79,000 deaths annually in the US) and costs the economy about $224 billion a year.
According to the CDC, drinking too much includes:
A drink is defined as 5 ounces (142 ml) of wine, 12 ounces (341 ml) of beer, or 1.5 ounces (43 ml) of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor.
On its new Alcohol Screening and Counseling web page the CDC notes:
"Drinking too much is dangerous and can lead to heart disease, breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, motor-vehicle crashes, and violence."
The CDC says alcohol screening and brief counseling has been proven to work and doctors, nurses and other health professionals should screen all adult patients, including pregnant women, and counsel those who drink too much.
The agency points out that alcohol screening and brief counseling can reduce binge drinking by lowering the amount heavy drinkers consume on one occasion by 25%.
Talking with a patient about their drinking is the first step a health professional can take in alcohol screening and brief counseling, which includes:
Although public health experts recommend alcohol screening and counseling, few people report talking to their doctor, nurse or health professional about drinking.
Only 1 in 6 adults in the US has discussed it with their health professional, and only 1 in 4 binge drinkers has talked about it. Even among those who binge drink 10 times or more a month, only a third has talked about the problem with their health professional.
Written by Catharine Paddock PhD
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without the permission of Medical News Today.
Alcohol Screening and Counseling: An effective but underused health service; CDC; accessed 8 January 2014.
Visit our Alcohol / Addiction / Illegal Drugs category page for the latest news on this subject.
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18 Apr. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270897>
Paddock, C. (2014, January 9). "At least 38 million Americans drink too much, says CDC." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
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