Alcohol misuse is defined as a spectrum of behaviors, including risky (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. It is estimated that among adults in the United States, 58% of men1 and 46% of women2 have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. Risky and excessive alcohol use has resulted in approximately 88,000 deaths in the U.S. from 2006 to 2010.3
Alcohol use in pregnancy is the cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs), a range of lifelong conditions that include physical and behavioral problems, as well as intellectual disabilities.4 All women of childbearing age should be screened for alcohol use.5 Family physicians should provide brief interventions that include describing the effects of drinking during pregnancy and warning that there are no safe levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.6
Family physicians and other primary care providers are in an ideal position to facilitate the prevention of untimely morbidity and mortality associated with risky alcohol use. The AAFP has a variety of resources to help family physicians with prevention, screening, treatment, and counseling of their patients. These include clinical preventive service recommendations, a preconception care position paper, continuing medical education (CME) courses, journal articles, and a new alcohol intervention manual called, Addressing Alcohol Use Practice Manual: An Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Program.
Alcohol Practice Manual
Learn how to identify and screen your patients for risky drinking, and offer them appropriate treatment.