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Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Screening & Assessment

Dr. Watson's Unhealthy Drinking/Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) Screening & Assessment

Understanding the Alcohol Use Spectrum

Every individual has a different relationship with alcohol, ranging from abstaining entirely to potentially harmful use patterns. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is at the extreme end of this spectrum, but by identifying where you fit early on, you can prevent progressing to more harmful stages.


Here’s how the spectrum typically looks:

  • No Use
  • Occasional Use
  • Unhealthy Use
  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)


Regular drinkers must assess where they lie on this spectrum. Catching unhealthy drinking habits early allows for corrective behavior before the potential development into AUD. Remember, early identification leads to better outcomes!

How to Screen for Unhealthy Drinking Habits

Dr. Watson uses three screening tools recommended by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to identify Unhealthy Alcohol Use. You can also use these tools for a preliminary assessment:

1. Understanding a "Standard Drink"

Before diving into the screening tools, it’s essential to define what constitutes one “standard drink”. (Size and type of drink matters.)

A standard drink contains about 14 grams of pure alcohol. The volume to reach this alcohol content varies:

Here is a fun interactive tool to see if you can pour a standard drink by

2. Screening Tools

Question: How many times in the past year have you had:

    • 5 or more drinks in a day (for men)?
    • 4 or more drinks in a day (for women)?


A response of >0 times is considered a positive screen.

  1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol
    • Never (0)
    • Monthly or less (1)
    • Two to four times per month (2)
    • Two or three times per week (3)
    • Four or more times per week (4)


  1. How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you’re drinking?
    • 0-2 drinks (0)
    • 3 or 4 drinks (1)
    • 5 or 6 drinks (2)
    • 7 to 9 drinks (3)
    • 10 or more drinks (4)


  1. How often do you have six or more drinks on one occasion?
    • Never (0)
    • Less than monthly (1)
    • Monthly (2)
    • Weekly (3)
    • Daily or almost daily (4)

Scoring: Sum the scores for each question. A score of ≥4 for men and >2 for women might indicate hazardous drinking.

  1. Craving:
    • You have Cravings to drink alcohol
    • Your Tolerance to alcohol is increasing
    • You have experienced Withdrawal from alcohol when you stopped drinking
  1. Loss of Control
    • You’re Drinking Larger quantities over longer periods
    • You’ve made Unsuccessful attempts to cutback or control drinking
    • You’ve Increased the amount of time spent drinking
  1. Consequences
    • You’ve had Failure to fulfill major roles or obligations
    • You have Social or interpersonal problems
    • You gave up Activities you use to do
    • You drink in hazardous situations
    • Physical and psychological consequences


Diagnosis: Two or more criteria in the past 12 months signal an AUD diagnosis.

Severity is categorized by the number of criteria met:

  • Mild (2-3)
  • Moderate (4-5)
  • Severe (≥6)

Remember, these tools are for initial screening. For a comprehensive evaluation and potential diagnosis of AUD, please consult a professional like Dr. Watson.

Criteria for Outpatient Alcohol Detox Treatment for AWS

Before considering outpatient treatment, Dr. Watson will evaluate the following:

  1. Support System: Does the patient have a supportive environment?
  2. Symptom Severity: Current symptoms should be mild to moderate. Those with severe symptoms may not be suitable candidates.
  3. Monitoring: Patients should have the capability to be monitored frequently, especially through telemedicine.
  4. Comorbidities: The presence of other severe conditions like liver or kidney diseases will be considered.
  5. Pregnancy: The patient’s pregnancy status.
  6. History: Any history of severe alcohol withdrawal.
  7. Protocol Adherence: Ability to follow a simple protocol, including tapering and monitoring instructions provided by Dr. Watson.
Did you Know?
  • 29.5 million people 12 y.o. and older in the USA had an Alcohol Use Disorder in 2021. 
  • That is 1 -10 or 10% of Americans over 12 y.o. 
  • But less than 1% receive medication for their alcohol use.  
  • Over 141,000 Americans die from the effects of alcohol per year. 
  • 385 Americans die from alcohol every day.
  • 60% of Americans increased their alcohol consumption during the COVID lockdown (SAMHS 2022) & (NCDAS).
  • Binge drinking in women has been on the rise for the last 25 years.

Additional Resources

Guide to Drinking Levels by Recovery Research Institute

Embark on a journey of self-awareness. Identify, assess, and act. Reach out to Dr. Watson today for comprehensive guidance.