Aging & Health A to Z
Drug and Substance Abuse
Diagnosis & Tests
If a healthcare professional suspects that you are misusing alcohol or medications, he or she will first confirm that you are dependent on a harmful substance by:
- asking you questions
- reviewing your prescriptions for commonly abused drugs or medicines
- examining your body
- ordering blood and urine tests.
The CAGE questionnaire is often used by healthcare providers to establish whether there is a drinking problem. There are four questions:
- "Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?"
- "Have you ever felt annoyed by criticism about your drinking?"
- "Have you ever felt guilty or bad about drinking?"
- "Have you ever felt the need for a drink (an "eye-opener") in the morning to steady your nerves?"
Answering “yes” to any of these questions indicates that you may have a problem with alcohol. Talk with your healthcare provider. Healthcare professionals often hesitate to ask about alcohol or drug abuse, so your situation may remain hidden unless you or a loved one reports that you are having a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Many older people avoid telling their healthcare provider that they are unable to control their use of alcohol or certain medications. Your healthcare professional can help!
Updated: March 2012
Posted: March 2012