Monday, December 26, 2011

Are You Okay?

A variety of drinking tests: the good, the bad, and the silly.

Here’s a short, no-nonsense questionnaire that uses your weekly drinking habits to produce an at-a-glance comparison of how your intake stacks up against others your age and sex. For example, your result might say: “Only 4% of the adult male population drinks more than you say you drink.” Which is food for thought, at least. Join Together (sponsored by The Partnership at and Boston University School of Public Health) provides this service.

Here is the Mayo Clinic alcohol use self-assessment test, which says with refreshing frankness: “This assessment can’t diagnose you with an alcohol use or abuse problem, but it can help you evaluate your drinking and understand whether you may benefit from seeking help.” Tends to be a bit stern on the drinks-per-day end of things, but otherwise it’s quite straightforward.

Then there is the venerable Michigan MAST Test, first offered in 1971, and revised regularly every since. It’s showing its age a bit as a clinical tool, but here is a link to the 22-question self-administered version: TEST

Iondesign’s Drink-O-Meter is a whimsical test that makes a sober point: “Why not take our test to calculate the state of your kidneys, wallet, and quantity of alcohol you have consumed over the years?” Why not? Well, maybe because you can’t HANDLE the truth: Test results give an estimate of the total number of drinks you have consumed, an estimate of how much money you’ve spent—and an estimate of the number of Ferraris you could have bought instead.

And finally, we have the amazing and ever-popular CAGE Test, so called for the system of naming and memorizing the questions. The CAGE test takes less than a minute, requires only paper and pencil, and can be graded by test takers themselves. It goes like this:

1. Have you ever felt the need to (C)ut down on your drinking?

2. Have you ever felt (A)nnoyed by someone criticizing your drinking?

3. Have you ever felt (G)uilty about your drinking?

4. Have you ever felt the need for a drink at the beginning of the day—an “(E)ye opener?

People who answer “yes” to two or more of these questions should seriously consider whether they are drinking in an alcoholic or abusive manner. Unfortunately, the CAGE test is considered to be an accurate diagnostic tool primarily in the case of adult white males.

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1 comment:

Joanne (@sciencegoddess) said...

Great post! I can only imagine that there are people trying to build the better drunk-trap!

I am paying "blog calls" to each @scio12 attendee to say "Hi" and give your blog a shoutout on twitter (I'm @sciencegoddess). I look forward to meeting you in January!

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