Medical and social problems related to alcohol use are frequently seen in the ED. Often, the tempo of emergency medicine practice seems to preclude assessment beyond that required by the acute complaint. However, detection of ED patients with alcohol problems can occur using brief screening tools. This article was developed by members of the SAEM Substance Abuse Task Force, and describes screening tools that have been used successfully to identify at-risk and dependent drinkers. Their brevity, reproducibility, and accuracy vary somewhat, but screening can be realistically performed in the busy ED setting. The early detection of patients with alcohol problems would provide the opportunity for early intervention, and may reduce subsequent morbidity and mortality in this patient population.