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Assessing alcohol problems in women

Considerations in assessing alcohol problems in women

A complete and accurate assessment is important for confirming a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder, determining severity and planning treatment (Ries et al., 2014).

The assessment should examine the effect of alcohol on various domains, including comorbid medical and psychiatric disorders and interpersonal relationships (Ries et al., 2014).

Due to the high prevalence of co-occurring mental health issues in people with alcohol use problems, consider using depression and anxiety screening tools, such as the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A). These tools can determine the extent of symptoms and the level of functioning (Ries et al., 2014).

Asking about past and present violence and traumatic events, including childhood sexual and physical abuse, is important during assessment, because these experiences are significantly associated with the initiation of substance use and the development of substance use disorders among women (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2014).

The assessment should also identify how drinking began. Women are more likely to be introduced to alcohol through significant relationships, and this information helps with treatment, recovery support and relapse prevention planning (SAMHSA, 2014).