Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

Screening and Treatment Resources

Healthcare and allied health professionals — including family physicians, nurses, addiction specialists, psychologists and social workers — use alcohol screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) to help individuals manage their alcohol consumption. The resources on this page link to evidence-informed guidance and tools.

For additional information about alcohol screening, brief intervention and treatment, or to share additional resources, contact alcohol@ccsa.ca.

Partner organizations have supplied some of the resources on this page. CCSA cannot vouch for the accuracy or currency of the information in these resources. Inclusion of a resource on this page does not imply endorsement or authorization by CCSA.

Alcohol and Risk

Alcohol and Risk

If you have decided to drink alcohol, drinking it in moderation can help to lower the risks of alcohol-related harms. Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines can support individuals to make informed choices about alcohol consumption and reduce the short- and long-term health risks.

Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines are intended for Canadian adults aged 25–65 who choose to drink alcohol. The related resources below also provide advice for youth, young adults, older Canadians and other priority populations.


Resources to educate the public about low-risk alcohol consumption.

Resource Description Organization
Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines [brochure] Outlines best practices for setting drink limits and when not to drink alcohol. The brochure provides tips for low-risk drinking and defines a standard drink. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Guidelines for Healthcare Providers to Promote Low-Risk Drinking Among Patients Provides guidelines for healthcare providers to promote low-risk alcohol drinking among patients. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: Frequently Asked Questions Addresses questions arising from Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines (LRDGs). These frequently asked questions are intended to help organizations promote and explain the LRDGs. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Communicating Alcohol-Related Health Risks: Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines Describes how to communicate Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines, which set safe alcohol drink limits per day and week for men and women to promote a culture of moderation and reduce long-term health risks. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: Communications Toolkit Provides resources to help promote Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Cancer and Alcohol (LRDG Summary) Provides information on the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing cancer. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Women and Alcohol (LRDG Summary) Provides information on the risks and harms of alcohol consumption for women. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Knowing Your Limits with Alcohol: A Practical Guide to Assessing Your Drinking Provides tips and guidance for individuals considering changing their alcohol consumption to a lower-risk level. This self-help resource can be used independently or with the guidance of a healthcare provider. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction

 

Screening

Screening

Screening helps healthcare and allied professionals identify individuals who drink alcohol beyond low-risk levels. Screening tools typically involve a series of questions about a person’s self-reported use of alcohol and other relevant clinical information. Screens vary in length, target population and the substances or health issues for which they screen. Assessment for alcohol use disorder should always be conducted by qualified clinicians.

For additional information about alcohol screening or to share additional resources, contact alcohol@ccsa.ca.


These screens can be used for the initial assessment of alcohol use.

Clear Filters
Screens (one to four items) Description Target Population Substances and/or Health Issues
Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide A two-item screen and in-depth assessment to identify youth at risk of alcohol-related problems. Adolescents Alcohol
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-C (AUDIT-C) A three-item alcohol screen that can help identify persons who are hazardous drinkers and have active alcohol use disorders. General, Pregnant People Alcohol
Cut, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye (CAGE) A four-item screen to identify potential problems with alcohol. General, Older Adults Alcohol
Tolerance, Annoyance, Cut Down, Eye-Opener (T-ACE) A four-item risky drinking screen for people who are pregnant. Pregnant People Alcohol
Tolerance, Worried, Eye-Opener, Amnesia, K-Cut Down (TWEAK) A four-item screen for people who are pregnant to screen for harmful drinking habits. Pregnant People Alcohol
Rapid Alcohol Problem Screen (RAPS4) A four-item screen for alcohol use, which is to be used in emergency medical settings. General Alcohol
Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription Medication and Other Substance Use (TAPS) A four-item screen for alcohol and other substances, followed by substance-specific assessment questions. General Alcohol, Other Substances

 

Screens (five to ten items) Description Target Population Substances and/or Health Issues
Senior Alcohol Misuse Indicator (SAMI) A five-item older adult screening tool designed to start a non-threating conversation about alcohol consumption. Older Adults Alcohol, Mental Health
National Institute of Drug Abuse modified Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (NM ASSIST) A five-item screen to identify risky alcohol and other substance use in adult patients. General Alcohol, Other Substances
Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble (CRAFFT) A six-item screen for alcohol and other substance use among adolescents. Adolescents Alcohol, Other Substances
Screening to Brief Intervention (S2BI) A seven-item screen to categorize alcohol and other substance use by adolescent patients into different risk categories. Adolescents Alcohol, Other Substances
Detection of Alcohol and Drug Problems in Adolescents (DEP-ADO) A seven-item screen that assesses adolescents' problematic use of alcohol and other substances. Adolescents Alcohol, Other Substances, Mental Health
Alcohol, Smoking, Substance Use Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST 3.0) An eight-item screen to detect and manage substance use and related problems in primary and general medical care settings. General Alcohol, Other Substances
Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) A ten-item questionnaire used to screen for excessive drinking and alcohol use disorders. General, Adolescents, Older Adults, Pregnant People Alcohol
Brief Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (BMAST) A ten-item screen designed to assess problems with alcohol use. General Alcohol
Short Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test - Geriatric Version (SMAST-G) A ten-item screen designed to assess problems with alcohol. Older Adults Alcohol

 

Screens (eleven or more items) Description Target Population Substances and/or Health Issues
Alcohol-Related Problems Survey (ARPS) A 23-item screen about the health of older people and their use of alcohol. Older Adults Alcohol, Other Substances, General Health
Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST) A 24-item screen designed to assess problems with alcohol use. General Alcohol, Mental Health
Global Appraisal of Individual Needs-Short Screener (GAIN-SS) A 23-item screen for general populations to identify one or more behavioural health disorders. Note: Copyright General Alcohol, Other Substances, Mental Health
Problem Oriented Screening Instrument for Teenagers (POSIT) A 139-item questionnaire to identify problems across ten domains in adolescents. Adolescents Alcohol, Other Substances, Mental Health, General Health
Drug Use Screening Inventory-Revised (DUSI-R) A 159-item measure across ten domains of functioning, including substance use. Note: Copyright General, Adolescents Alcohol, Other Substances, Mental Health

Brief Intervention

Brief Intervention

Brief interventions are short, motivational one-on-one conversations between healthcare professionals and patients. Healthcare and allied professionals use brief interventions to support individuals to understand their current drinking patterns and make attainable changes in drinking behaviour.


Brief intervention resources for healthcare and allied professionals.

Resource Description Organization
Knowing Your Limits with Alcohol: A Practical Guide to Assessing Your Drinking Provides tips and guidance for individuals considering changing their alcohol consumption to a lower-risk level. This self-help resource can be used independently or with the guidance of a healthcare provider. Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Motivational Interviewing: Alcohol A video explaining motivational interviewing for alcohol use in the context of primary care physicians. College of Family Physicians of Canada
Brief Interventions for Patients with At-Risk Drinking A section of the primary care addiction toolkit with guidance on brief interventions. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Art of Motivation An online resource for administrators, counsellors, teachers and others who want to help students avoid drug problems and other obstacles to reaching their full potential. Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research

 

Videos

These videos highlight key aspects of a brief intervention, including motivational interviewing and non-judgmental approaches.

1 - Establishing Rapport to Discuss Alcohol Use

The clinician takes a non-judgmental and motivational stance, setting the stage for asking a patient to identify specific problems related to alcohol use.
Transcript 
 

2 - Exploring Reasons for Drinking; Building Ambivalence

The clinician asks the patient to identify benefits associated with alcohol use. The clinician then contrasts these felt benefits with the problems noted earlier in order to increase the patient’s ambivalence.
Transcript 

3 - Identifying Level and Sources of Motivation

The clinician assesses the readiness of the patient to begin changing drinking behaviour, including helping the patient to recognize important sources of motivation to change.
Transcript

4 - Exploring Goals for Change

Building on the earlier steps, the clinician helps the patient to identify achievable short-term goals for drinking change.
Transcript
 

5 - Negotiating a Plan

To increase the likelihood of success in reaching the drinking change goals, the clinician asks the patient to anticipate potential obstacles and helps to identify ways of dealing with them.
Transcript

6 - Exploring Related Issues

When describing patterns of alcohol use, a patient may mention activities that are particularly dangerous such as driving while intoxicated. The clinician must then underscore the potential for serious consequences.
Transcript

7 - Planning to Address Underlying Problems

Since drinking at higher-risk levels is frequently tied to other social or mental health problems, the clinician flags these issues and takes some first steps toward addressing the underlying issues.  
Transcript

 

Treatment

Treatment

These resources can be used to guide healthcare and allied professionals in treatment and referral for alcohol use disorder in their care settings.

Resource Description Organization
Provincial Guideline for the Clinical Management of High-Risk Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder A resource for physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners, pharmacists, allied
health professionals, and all other clinical and non-clinical personnel involved in the care of individuals and families affected by alcohol use. 
British Columbia Centre on Substance Use
Canadian Guideline on Alcohol Use Disorder among Older Adults Provides guidance for clinicians on either preventing the development of alcohol use disorder or optimally assessing and treating older individuals, including pharmacological treatment. Canadian Coalition on Seniors’ Mental Health
Alcohol Use Disorder Tool Aims to guide primary care providers through the identification and management of individuals who have challenges with alcohol use. Centre for Effective Practice
Management of Alcohol Use Disorders: A Pocket Reference for Primary Care Providers A brief overview of screening for alcohol use, counselling patients with alcohol use disorder, anti-alcohol medications and referral to treatment for primary care providers. Mentoring, Education, and Clinical Tools for Addiction: Primary Care–Hospital Integration (META:PHI)
Clinical Best Practice Guidelines: Engaging Clients Who Use Substances A tool to guide best practices and decision making for nurses working with clients who use substances. Registered Nurses Association of Ontario
Engaging Clients with Substance Use Disorders This free course aids nurses and health care professionals to support clients experiencing a substance use disorder. Registered Nurses Association of Ontario
Managing Alcohol Problems A five-week course designed for physicians and other clinicians exploring common pharmacotherapies and psychosocial treatments for alcohol use disorder.  Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Primary Care Addition Toolkit Provides guidance and tools for screening, assessing, treating and managing alcohol problems. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Substance Abuse Disorders: Alcohol Module for physicians focusing on communication between health professionals and patients. Medical Council of Canada

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