Topic Overview

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
  • 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
  • Has drinking ever caused problems for you, such as
    conflicts at work or at home? How do you feel about your
  • 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

  • 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.footnote 1 The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all adolescents should be screened for alcohol, tobacco, and drug use at every visit.footnote 2

For more information,
see the topics Alcohol Misuse and Dependence or Alcohol and Drug

Related Information



  1. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2004).
    Screening and behavioral counseling interventions in primary care to reduce alcohol misuse. Available online:
  2. 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.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Monti, PhD – Alcohol and Addiction
Christine R. Maldonado, PhD – Behavioral Health

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017