Screening Tool Identifies Adolescents Who Have Alcohol and Drug Problems

Study of youth alcohol diagnostic screening tools

    • March 23, 2007

Researchers at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies (CAAS) evaluated existing alcohol diagnostic screening tools to develop a quick, low-cost way to identify adolescents who might benefit from alcohol-use interventions.

Key Findings

  • Of the three alcohol-use diagnostic screening tools evaluated, AUDIT most reliably identified teenagers fitting criteria for an alcohol-related diagnosis, as specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).

    AUDIT is a 10-question screening tool developed to identify problem drinkers in primary care settings.

  • Certain DSM-IV criteria appear more appropriate than others for use with adolescents:

    • "Drinking more or longer than intended" was the item that best predicted having a diagnosis of alcohol dependence.
    • "Use despite psychological or physical consequences" was also a good predictor of alcohol dependence.
    • Signs of withdrawal appear to have limited screening value among adolescents.