An expert panel is urging health care providers to screen all adults and pregnant women for excessive drinking. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel of experts, released recommendations on Monday saying that doctors should screen all adults for alcohol misuse. The panel also released a research summary that recommended conducting brief counseling sessions for risky drinkers. With brief intervention, one in every ten excessive drinkers can be brought to a safe drinking level without becoming a full-blown alcoholic.
For a man, a safe drinking level means no more than four drinks on one occasion and 14 per week. For a woman, safe drinking means no more than three drinks at a time or seven per week. Doctors can screen for risky drinking simply by asking a person if he or she has had five or more drinks on any one occasion over the past year. Researchers recommend that primary care doctors meet with risky drinkers for two 10 to 15 minute sessions about a month apart, with a follow-up call from a nurse after each visit. This method succeeded in cutting the average weekly alcohol use by 3.6 drinks on average