Think You Have AUD? Take the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test!
If you think you’ve got a drinking problem, then you’ve probably got a drinking problem. It’s one of alcoholism’s shiniest golden rules. It also makes a lot of common sense. After all, if your drinking is raising questions, well… But some folks aren’t content to follow the rules, no matter how shiny and commonsensical they happen to be. Fortunately, they’ve got backup. And some very serious backup at that. It’s called the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). And it’s highly likely to provide the answer you need.
AUDIT is a 10-item screening tool put together by Dr/Professor John B. Saunders on behalf of the great good folks at the World Health Organization (WHO). Why? Well, in order to assess alcohol consumption, drinking behaviors and alcohol-related problems, of course (Thanks NIDA!); something the Cambridge-trained addiction specialist knows very much about. Then again, with senior appointments at two universities (Queensland and Sydney) and two private hospital groups (St John of God and Wesley), he better know much about it. There’s a clinician-administered version of the test, as well as a self-report version. Most importantly perhaps, AUDIT has been validated across genders and in a wide range of racial/ethnic groups. It’s also well-suited for use in primary care settings. (You can find some helpful guidelines here.)
Considering AUDIT has been in good use since 1989 and was crafted by an international master, we can safely adjudge the Test to be the non plus ultra of alcohol behavioral measuring devices.
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test
Here’s the quick self-test just to give you an idea of its simplicity. You’ve got to test on the actual AUDIT site to get your assessment, as well as any recommendation. It’s definitely worth the click though.
1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
2. How many standard drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when drinking?
4. During the past year, how often have you found that you were not able to stop drinking once you had started?
5. During the past year, how often have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
6. During the past year, how often have you needed a drink in the morning to get yourself going after a heavy drinking session?
7. During the past year, how often have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
8. During the past year, how often have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
9. Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
10. Has a relative or friend, doctor or other health worker been concerned about your drinking or suggested you cut down?
Again, you need to test on the AUDIT page in order to get your assessment. And again, it’s well worth the click!
The Gray Area
There’s a gray area here. (Isn’t there always?) Whether or not that gray area is due to wishful thinking, pure equivocation or actual grayness depends upon the test-taker. Or, more precisely, it depends upon the test-taker’s candor. Like everything important in this world, the level of honesty will determine the level of truth. The level of truth will in turn determine the level of usefulness. In other words, results matter — so long as they are real results. But you knew that already.
Anyway, we got on to our gray area drinking thanks to Arianna Rodriguez over at USA Today. Rodriguez got the term from Dr. Jessica Gregg, who said “gray area” drinking is a term used to describe a mild alcohol use disorder. Gregg is chief medical officer for Portland’s De Paul Treatment Centers, as well as an adjunct associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University. That is to say, the good doc knows of what she speaks. So when she speaks of AUD, we listen.
Mild AUD is when “someone’s not so far into their drinking that their body is dependent,” Gregg told Rodriguez. “They’re not on the severe end of the spectrum, but they are drinking in a way that makes their life worse as opposed to better.” Furthermore, it’s not quantified by how many drinks someone consumes but instead by their relationship with alcohol.
Say you drink a glass of wine with dinner every night, but could really take it or leave it; you’re probably not a gray area drinker. On the other hand, if you only drink occasionally yet think about it constantly, you may well be grayer than suspected.
Gray area drinking comes into play “if someone is only drinking three nights a week, but they’re thinking about those three nights every day,” adds Gregg. “They [may not be] drinking as much, but their drinking is more disordered.”
Rodriguez says the concept has been around for over a decade, but widespread pandemic drinking has caused interest to ramp up considerably. She goes to great lengths to prove it too, citing surveys from such worthies as YouGov and the RAND Corporation. Better still, she backs up her report with a first-person account from someone with nine years sobriety, then goes on to consult with medical professionals at both Cleveland Clinic and Miami’s Memorial Regional Hospital.
To make good measures even better, Rodriguez adds Johns Hopkins‘ oft-used CAGE questionnaire to the report. CAGE gets the name from the core of its four questions: Cut-down; Annoyed; Guilty; Eye-opener. That’ll give you an idea of what’s being sought, as well as how the answers will be assessed. It will also provide more than a hint of just what all this gray area chatter is about in the first place — and the last. That is, stepping up and taking a completely honest look at your drinking.
Salutations & Gratitude
Healing Properties salutes Dr/Professor Saunders and the World Health Organization for devising the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, and for providing such a simple and efficient way for folks to gauge the extent of their drinking. We also salute Johns Hopkins for doing likewise. Tools such as AUDIT and CAGE not only benefit the drinker, they also benefit their friends, family and colleagues, as well as the community at large. And as such they provide a remarkable and essential service.
We also salute Dr. Jessica Gregg, De Paul Treatment Centers, Oregon Health and Science University, as well as YouGov, RAND Corporation, Cleveland Clinic, NIDA and Miami’s Memorial Regional Hospital. Professional efforts should be duly acknowledged, regardless of where they originate. Professional efforts concerning AUD and SUD deserve all the more acknowledgement, especially during these times of considerable crises. We’d also like to salute Angela Teuscher, who courageously provided all that first-person ammo to Arianna Rodriguez, as well as Rodriguez herself, for so keenly providing us with such an edifying spur.
Finally, we’d also like to extend a hale and wholehearted Thanks to each and every one of the above, not just for doing what they do (though of course there is that), but for so deftly and diligently doing what they do. From sober support in Portland to the World Health Organization itself, these concerted efforts count, lots. The world owes you all tremendous and unequivocal gratitude.
How about you? Have you been drinking a bit much? Thinking about it? Are you in that gray area? Why not take the test? Heck, take both tests. Then, if need be, reach out to someone. You’ve got absolutely nothing to lose. And, boy oh boy, you’ll be stunned by how much you have to gain.