Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Screening Question and Assessment

by The Discovering Alcoholic on January 21, 2010

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.
Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

As follow-up to my last guest post, “Alcohol Misuse,” the following Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Screening Question and Assessment are designed to help family members determine whether their loved one’s drinking should be considered as more than simply alcohol use (aka “normal” or “moderate” drinking). These AMI tools are designed to identify whether there is a drinking problem by assessing the impact of a loved one’s drinking on their (the family member’s) life. As I have previously stated, so often the focus is on the drinker’s drinking and drinking behaviors. The AMI Screening Question and Assessment are intended to place the focus on the person whose life is being impact, not on the person doing the impacting (drinking too much).

As with any assessment, the answers to this one should not be considered a diagnosis of your loved one’s drinking. They are simply a way to answer for yourself whether you are “looking for trouble,” “blowing things out of proportion,” “not being supportive enough” or any of the other allegations a family member is told when they question a loved one’s drinking.

Though simple, your answers to this assessment and their importance cannot be minimized. The essence is that it is NOT NORMAL for a person’s drinking to have an impact on others. A person who maintains “normal” or “moderate” drinking patterns does not experience drinking behaviors, and it is the drinking behaviors that cause the impacts on others and demonstrate there is a problem with alcohol misuse.

The AMI will free you of staying in the place of having to ‘prove’ how many, how often, why or when. You can simply be assured that what you are seeing and experiencing is, in fact, the impact of a loved one’s alcohol misuse. Identifying the problem is what allows a family member to let go of trying to control it, and instead find out what they can and cannot do about it.

Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Screening Question (1):
Does a loved one’s drinking worry you or have an impact on your life? ___ N ___ Y If yes:
In the past year has your loved one had:
5 or more in a day (men)
4 or more in a day (women)
[Note: standard drink = 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of regular beer, 1.5 ounces 80 proof spirits.]

IF YES, proceed with Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Assessment.

Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Assessment (2):
1. Have you ever felt your __________ (i.e., son, mother, husband, parent) should Cut down on his/her drinking?
2. Has your ___________ even been Annoyed by you criticizing their drinking?
3. Has _____________ever felt bad or Guilty about their drinking?
4. Have you ever seen _________take a drink first thing in the morning (eye-opener) to steady his/her nerves or to get rid of a hangover?

IF YES to two or more of the AMI Assessment questions, your loved one has an alcohol misuse problem.

For a better understanding of your loved one’s alcohol misuse — how bad is it, what can they do about it — visit NIAAA’s website, “Rethinking Drinking.” There you will be able to anonymously assess your loved one’s drinking patterns and learn more about alcohol misuse. Additionally, read my blog this Sunday, January 17, for Next Step Suggestions….

Additional resources for more information:
NIAAA FAQs for the General Public,

(1) The Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Screening Question was adapted from NIAAA’s Screening Question for determining whether there might be an alcohol misuse problem. The NIAAA Screening Question and rationale can be found in the NIAAA publication, Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide.

(2) The Alcohol Misuse Impact (AMI) Assessment was adapted from the CAGE Assessment used by medical and treatment professionals to determine whether a person may have an alcohol misuse problem. [The CAGE acronym comes from the underlined letters in each question.]

Revised 1.15.10

©2010 Lisa Frederiksen – Breaking The Cycles – All Rights Reserved

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