CDC Sounds Off on Alcohol Counseling by Health Care Professionals

Health & Fitness

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tuesday concluded a teleconference on a new report suggesting that doctors and other health professionals too often neglect to ask their patients about their alcohol consumption.

The new report includes fresh data on how rarely these talks actually occur. According to CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, who led the press conference, the new findings outlined in the report suggest that the vast majority of people who see a doctor are not even asked about their alcohol use, and the conversation never comes up for roughly three out of four binge drinkers who see their doctors.
“In same way that doctors screen patients for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, we should be screening patients for alcohol use and using that information appropriately,” Frieden said during the press conference. “We really do want this to be routine.”

Dr. Frieden advised the payoff would be worth it.

“Drinking too much causes about 88,000 deaths a year in the U.S. and costs our economy more than $20 billion dollars,” he said. “Health professionals can use alcohol screening and brief intervention to help patients who drink too much drink less…and it takes only a few minutes to deliver.”

Dr. Frieden says the health community would also have a better handle on problems if they discussed drinking with their patients.

“The bottom line here is that drinking too much is a big problem among U-S adults. It shouldn’t get a free pass when it comes to screenings by health professionals but should be a part of all the screenings that are provided,” he said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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