Alcohol misuse is defined as a spectrum of behaviors, including risky or excessive alcohol use, alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence. Risky or excessive alcohol use means drinking more than the amount that results in an increased risk of poor health outcomes.
Alcohol use in pregnancy is the cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, a range of lifelong conditions that include physical and behavioral problems, as well as intellectual disabilities. You can prevent alcohol-related morbidity and mortality by recognizing the signs of misuse, discussing it openly with your patients, and pointing them to the best treatment options for their situation.
AAFP’s resources help you recognize and address alcohol misuse, from prevention and screening to treatment and counseling. These include clinical preventive service recommendations, a preconception care position paper, continuing medical education courses, journal articles and an alcohol intervention manual, Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program.