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Vol. LVII, No. 17
August 26, 2005

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New Clinician's Guide Issued for Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has released a new guide for health care practitioners to help them identify and care for patients with heavy drinking and alcohol use disorders. Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much is now available free online at and in print, with a pocket version included.

The 2005 guide provides a research-based approach to alcohol screening and brief intervention for both primary care and mental health clinicians. It updates earlier NIAAA guidelines, which focused solely on primary care providers and used a lengthier screening process.

In the new guide, alcohol screening is simplified to a single question about heavy drinking days. If a patient drinks heavily (5 or more drinks in a day for men; 4 or more for women), the guide shows how to assess for symptoms of alcohol abuse or dependence. Whether the patient has an alcohol use disorder or is a heavy, at-risk drinker, the guide offers streamlined, step-by-step advice for conducting brief interventions and managing patient care.

The guide's target audience now includes mental health clinicians because alcohol use disorders are more common in mental health patients than in the general population.

Print copies of the guide can be ordered through NIAAA at (301) 443-3860 or downloaded from the NIAAA web site above. For training, a PowerPoint slide show on the guide will be posted on the web site in the near future.