Alcohol screening and brief intervention among drug users in primary care: a discussion paper

Ir J Med Sci. 2012 Jun;181(2):165-70. doi: 10.1007/s11845-011-0748-7. Epub 2011 Aug 24.


Background: Problem alcohol use is common among problem drug users (PDU) and associated with adverse health outcomes. Primary care has an important role in the overall stepped approach to alcohol treatment, especially screening and brief intervention (SBI).

Aim: To discuss three themes that emerged from an exploration of the literature on SBI for problem alcohol use in drug users attending primary care.

Methods: Material for this discussion paper was gathered from three biomedical databases (PubMed, PsycINFO and Cochrane library), conference proceedings and online resources of professional organisations or national health agencies.

Results: Themes discussed in this paper are: (a) the potential of primary care for delivery of alcohol SBIs to PDUs, (b) screening methods and (c) application of brief interventions to PDUs.

Conclusions: Although SBI improves health outcomes associated with problem alcohol use in the general population, further research is needed among high-risk patient groups, especially PDUs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / complications
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Directive Counseling
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications