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Should Doctors Be Doing More To Prevent Problem Drinking?

According to the CDC, not enough doctors in the U.S. are talking to patients about the risk of problem drinking.
Posted at 1:38 PM, Jan 08, 2014

New findings released by the Centers for Disease Control show not enough doctors are talking to patients about alcohol use — something that if done could reduce the amount of problem drinking by 25 percent. 

"Health officials say at least 38 million Americans consume too much alcohol. Excessive drinking causes about 88 thousand deaths in the U.S. each year." (Via KDKA)

According to HealthDay News, to get these results, the CDC looked at patients from 44 states and Washington D.C. Researchers found although there is a greater understanding of the risk of problem drinking, doctors are talking to patients about alcohol use about as often as in 1997 — the last time the CDC looked at this problem.

According to the CDC, for every one person who is an alcoholic, there are six so-called problem drinkers. 

​"There are several different patterns of problem drinking; one is binge drinking, a second is heavy drinking throughout the week averaging more than two per day for men, more than one per day for women." (Via WLNY)

The results also showed one out of six adults say their doctor has never discussed alcohol use with them and one in four binge drinkers say the same. Only one out of three people who binge drink more than 10 times a month claimed to have talked to a health care professional about alcohol consumption. (Via Wikimedia Commons / Dan Lachacz

And although the consequences can be fatal, just 17 percent of pregnant women say their doctor has talked to them about drinking alcohol.  (Via Wikimedia Commons / Mahalie Stackpole

One researcher said, "Counseling for no more than 15 minutes can result in a substantial reduction in problem drinking ... It should be a part of routine patient care. In the same way we screen for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, we should be screening for excess alcohol use and treating patients appropriately." (ViaFox News

The CDC reports heavy drinking can contribute to a number of health issues, including heart disease, breast cancer, high blood pressure and sudden infant death syndrome. It can also increase the chance of risky behavior like violence and driving while under the influence.