link to RWJMS home page

Dear Student Doctors,

APRIL 2014 IS:

Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol Quick Facts

  • Alcohol abuse and binge drinking is a dangerous yet common behavior that directly causes over 23,000 deaths per year, and indirectly leads to much more fatality and morbidity by contributing to cancer, cardiovascular disease, accidents, violence and abuse, birth defects, and mental illness. Even relatively low levels of alcohol may increase risks.
  • Between 2001 and 2002, 17.6 million adult Americans - 8.5% of the population – met diagnostic criteria for either alcohol dependence or abuse. At least 12% of Americans have had an alcohol problem at some time in their life.
  • Alcohol dependence is defined as at least 3 of the following in the past 12 months: Tolerance, Withdrawal, Use of Increased Quantities, Persistent Desire or Attempts to Cut Down, Time Spent Obtaining Alcohol, Social or Occupational Troubles as a Result of Alcohol, Continued Use Despite Awareness of Harm.
  • Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, or 5 or more for men.
  • Although effective screening measures exist for alcohol abuse, many doctors do not take the time to ask these questions or pursue treatment unless the patient initiates the conversation.

Alcohol Awareness Goals at Promise Clinic

  • Always be mindful of surroundings. If your patient comes to Promise Clinic under the influence, tell a scheduler/manager immediately.
  • Periodically screen ALL promise clinic patients for alcohol abuse and dependence
  • Appropriate screening includes use of the CAGE mnemonic (or AUDIT mnemonic, if preferred)
    • Cut back on drinking
    • Annoyance at criticisms about drinking
    • Guilt about drinking
    • Eye-opener in the morning
  • Recognize and be ready to apply stages of change to patients with alcohol problems. Stages include Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance (and Relapse).
  • Encourage open discussion of alcohol use with patients, and remember that communication and change can take time and multiple efforts. Do not attempt to push change, but rather encourage and work together with patient to achieve THEIR OWN GOALS for change.


  • If you need help solving a problem please reach out to senior members of your team, student managers, schedulers or the appropriate steering committee/operations committee member as soon as possible.


If you are having trouble completing PCM visit requirements, please contact Afua Takyi ( at least one week in advance so she can arrange for you to temporarily join a team. A physician preceptor must sign off on your off-site activity attendance record at each appointment if you are receiving PCM credit. A senior member of you student team may complete the end of year evaluation.