Post Content

In a report released Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted that alcohol screening and counseling is an effective but underused health service.  In fact, only 1 in 6 adults in the United States reported discussing alcohol use with a health professional.

Most of us have heard the term binge drinking, but for many the idea of unhealthy drinking is limited to those with an addiction.  While some people may develop alcohol dependence, there are other significant health consequences for anyone who drinks too much.  For example, drinking too much can lead to heart disease, breast cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, sudden infant death syndrome, falls, motor-vehicle crashes, and violence.

So how much is too much?  According to the CDC, “drinking too much includes binge drinking, high weekly use, and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under age 21.”  See the graphic below, for more information about unhealthy alcohol use — keep in mind these numbers do not apply to people with some medical conditions and/or those who are currently taking certain medications.  Also, AlcoholScreening.org provides free and anonymous screening to help people learn how much is too much for them.

CDC graphic

According to the CDC alcohol screening and brief counseling can reduce the amount of alcohol consumed on an occasion by 25 percent among those who drink too much.

In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Bureau of Substance Abuse Services has worked to the expand Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for nearly a decade.  In June 2012, DPH completed a 5 year SAMHSA-funded SBIRT project through which over 140,000 people were screened for unhealthy alcohol and drug use leading to 20,290 received brief interventions and another 4,635 were referred to treatment.  DPH also funded SBIRT in 6 hospital emergency departments between 2007 and 2012. That project screened over 40,000 people and provided 11,710 brief interventions and referred over 8,500 people to treatment.

MASBIRT TTA, a DPH supported program, provides training and technical assistance to health care practices looking to implement SBIRT.  Visit their website for more information.

MASBIRT logo

 

Written By:


Communications Manager in the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services.

Recent Posts

Highlights of the June 10 Public Health Council Meeting posted on Jun 10

The June monthly meeting featured an update from the Commissioner and a vote by Council members on a set of final proposed regulations. With today’s release of the latest DPH quarterly opioid overdose data, Commissioner Monica Bharel provided an overview for Council members. Next, the Council   …Continue Reading Highlights of the June 10 Public Health Council Meeting

Health Disparities Close to Home: an Op-Ed by Commissioner Monica Bharel posted on Jun 9

Health Disparities Close to Home: an Op-Ed by Commissioner Monica Bharel

Reprinted with permission from the Harvard Crimson, May 27, 2020. Here in Massachusetts, we are fortunate to have top university researchers, some of the finest medical schools and teaching hospitals in the world, and a robust state system of public health. But even a state   …Continue Reading Health Disparities Close to Home: an Op-Ed by Commissioner Monica Bharel

Highlights of the May 20 Public Health Council Meeting posted on May 20

The May monthly meeting of the Public Health Council featured an update from DPH leadership on the status of proposed amendments to regulations in the area of 105 CMR 665.000: Minimum Standards for Retail Sale of Tobacco and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. Following a discussion, the Council voted   …Continue Reading Highlights of the May 20 Public Health Council Meeting