Diagnosing Alcohol Misuse
In order to offer the best solution for an alcoholic or a addict seeking help, it is always necessary to accurately diagnose the problem. If this is not done, then treatment provision will be based on guesswork. Alcohol misuse varies in severity and different approaches will be required to deal with different levels of abuse.
If the individual is offered the wrong type of treatment when dealing with alcohol misuse, it might not only be ineffective, but it could also be putting their life at risk. This is because some who misuse alcohol can suffer a severe physical reaction when the substance is withdrawn. A drinking dependence diagnosis test makes it possible to assess the level of dependency on alcohol.
The Difference between Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Dependency
Some individuals can go through a period in their life when they drink too much alcohol. This [alcohol abuse](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_abuse) can have many negative consequences. This person may do things they regret while under the influence and be less productive at their job. Their ability to fulfill their societal role may also suffer. If this person continues to abuse alcohol, they can develop a physical dependency. Their body may become so used to having alcohol that it can’t function properly without it. The person who has developed [alcohol dependency](http://www.healthauthority.com/AlcoholDependence.htm) will suffer withdrawal symptoms should they attempt to quit drinking.
The Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome
Once an individual has become physically dependent, they are then at risk of [alcohol withdrawal syndrome](http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/addictions/alcohol/007.html). If the alcohol level in their blood stream drops too far, they may experience severe symptoms such as:
* Nausea and vomiting
* Inability to sleep
* Lack of energy
If the individual has been chronically abusing alcohol for a long time, they could be at risk of more severe withdrawal symptoms known as [delirium tremens](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delirium_tremens). Symptoms of the DTs include:
* Uncontrollable shaking
About one in ten of those individuals who develop delirium tremens will die because of it.
The Importance of Diagnosing Alcohol Dependency
Those people who seek help for their alcohol usage will not always be physically dependent. In some cases, these individuals may only require information and minimal support in order to have a healthier relationship with alcohol in the future. Some of these people may decide to give up alcohol altogether, while others will be able to return to [social drinking](http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/alcohol/Pages/alcohol-units.aspx).
Those who are alcohol dependent will usually require more intensive assistance than those who have just been overindulging. It is therefore important to be able to identify these individuals with a physical dependency. Deciding if a person is just abusing alcohol or physically dependent can be tricky unless the evaluator has precise assessment tools. It is also vital to determine the level of dependency, in order to assess if the individual is likely to suffer severe withdrawals requiring medical supervision. If the assessment is not done correctly, it could lead to a situation where the client’s life is put at risk.
Drinker Dependence Diagnosis Test
There have been a number of diagnosis tests developed in order to establish the level of alcohol dependency. These tests are usually of the questionnaire variety. In most instances, the client will be asked to fill out the test and then the therapist will evaluate the score. The therapist will then use this to determine the type of treatment that will be most suitable. There are also many dependence diagnosis tests available on the web. The individual can make use of these to determine their own level of dependence on alcohol.
One example of a dependence diagnosis test is the [Drinker Inventory of Consequences](http://casaa.unm.edu/inst/DrInC-2R.pdf). This test was used as part of the [Project MATCH](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MATCH) study into the effectiveness of different alcohol treatments. This test is said to be reliable for assessing the severity of alcohol abuse based on consequences. However, it may not be suitable for determining the risks of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
Other drinker dependence tests are based on the criteria provided by the [DSM-IV](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-IV#DSM-IV_.281994.29) for alcoholism diagnosis. These tests will assess for evidence of tolerance to alcohol, withdrawal symptoms, and a loss of control over drinking.
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