Assessing Alcohol Problems: A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers, Second Edition


Assessing Alcohol Problems: A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers, Second Edition


This 296-page guide is designed to help clinicians and researchers understand the critical issues involved in formally evaluating alcohol treatment and planning treatment for individuals and to select the assessment instruments best suited to their purposes.

The guide provides guidance and instruments for

  • Screening for alcohol use disorders
  • Making a formal alcohol-related diagnosis or quantifying symptoms
  • Assessing drinking behavior (quantity, frequency, intensity, and pattern)
  • Developing client-specific treatment plans
  • Understanding the treatment process
  • Assessing the end results of treatment

The second edition includes several new assessment instruments, updates to reflect emerging topics, and a new chapter dealing with adolescent assessment.

This guide includes the following sections:

  • Assessment of alcohol problems: An overview
    • Elements in instrument selection
    • Reliability and validity
    • Benefits of assessment
    • Setting, timing, and sequencing of formal assessment
    • Approaching the client
    • Giving clients feedback
    • Assessment of other problems
    • Research needs
  • Quick reference instrument guide
  • Self-report screening for alcohol problems among adults
    • Assessing screening measures
    • Overview of screening measures
    • Selection of measures
    • Future directions and needs
  • Biomarkers of heavy drinking
    • Selecting a biomarker
    • Traditional biomarkers
    • Emerging biomarkers
    • Biomarkers in combination
    • Use of biomarkers in alcohol treatment research
    • Clinical use of biomarkers
    • Research needs
  • Diagnosis
    • Background and definitions
    • Diagnostic measures
    • Recommendations for selecting a diagnostic measure
    • Suggestions for research
  • Alcohol consumption measures
    • Self-report issues
    • Review of drinking measures
    • Comparisons among drinking measures
    • Developing a consensus
    • Appendix: Drinking guidelines
  • Assessment of alcohol and other drug use behaviors among adolescents
    • Developmental issues
    • Validity of self-report
    • Major classes of instruments
    • Research needs
  • Assessment to aid in the treatment planning process
    • Problem recognition, motivation, and readiness to change
    • Alcohol-related expectancies and self-efficacy
    • Perceived locus of control of drinking behavior
    • Measures of family history of alcohol problems
    • Extra-treatment social support
    • Multidimensional assessment measures
    • Measures to assist in differential treatment placement
  • Assessing treatment and treatment processes
    • Conceptual model of the treatment process
    • Measures of treatment and treatment processes
  • Applied issues in treatment outcome assessment
    • The value of reliable measures
    • Goals of outcome evaluation
    • Relevant measures of change
    • Conceptual considerations in measuring behavior change over time
    • Meaningful changes in drinking behavior
    • Practical considerations in measuring behavior change over time
  • Appendix: Instrument fact sheets


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; National Institutes of Health

Funding Sources:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; National Institutes of Health


Release Date: 2003
Original Summary: September 2005
Last Updated: 06/06/12

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