McLean Hospital to Conduct Free Alcohol Screening

Named as National Site for Alcohol Treatment Study

March 12, 2001 -- Belmont, MA -- On Thursday, April 5, McLean Hospital and more than 1,400 sites across the country will offer free and confidential screenings for people looking for help and information about alcohol abuse and addiction.

National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD), an annual event founded by McLean Hospital clinicians in 1999, drew more than 52,000 people across the United States in 2000, helping nearly 30,000.

"This event is an excellent way to learn about the effects of alcohol and to find out if your own drinking patterns, or those of a friend or family member, may be causing a health risk," said Shelly Greenfield, MD, the founding scientific director of NASD and medical director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Ambulatory Treatment Center at McLean Hospital.

An estimated 14 million Americans suffer from some form of alcohol disorder and more than 100,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes every year.

McLean Hospital will hold the free screenings on Thursday, April 5 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am in the de Marneffe building, 115 Mill Street, Belmont. Sessions include a lecture, written self-test, "friends and family" questionnaire, confidential interview with a health professional and a referral for treatment, as necessary.

NASD is conducted in collaboration with the Center for Substance Abuse, the Screening for Mental Health, Inc., the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the American College of Health Association and the American Medical Association.

In addition to conducting the screenings, McLean has been named a clinical trial site for a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study testing new treatments for alcohol. The Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions (COMBINE) study will take place over the next 24 months and will recruit 1,375 people nationwide, 125 locally.

The study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the NIH will test the effectiveness of behavioral treatments alone and in combination with medications.

"The clinical trials we will be performing over the next two years may lead to better treatment for those afflicted with this often debilitating disease of alcohol dependence," said Roger Weiss, MD, clinical director of McLean’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center and the principle investigator for the McLean study site.

For information on the COMBINE study, call 1-866-80-STUDY. Participants must be aged 18 years or older and willing to be screened for alcoholism. In addition, participants must be abstinent for a minimum of four days and a maximum of 21 days prior to the study.

For more information on the alcohol screenings, call 617/855-2781. To locate a screening site near you, call 1-800-405-9200 after March 21, 2001.

Facts about Alcohol Dependence

  More than 100,000 Americans die of alcohol-related causes each year, making alcohol the third leading contributor to mortality that is related to lifestyle in the U.S. (Tobacco is first and diet and activity patterns are second.)
  In 1998 the estimated costs of alcohol disorders and their social consequences were $185 billion. The direct treatment and health care costs account for 14 percent of the bill, reduced worker productivity for 47 percent, and lost productivity due to premature deaths for 20 percent. Costs associated with alcohol-related car crashes-fifth leading cause of death for Americans of all ages-account for 9 percent, as do costs associated with criminal activity. Almost 39 percent of these costs resulted in increased burdens on government budgets.
  Nearly 53 percent of the adult population of the U.S. (98 million people aged 18 years or older) have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking. More than 6 million children under the age of 18 live in households with at least one alcoholic parent.
  Almost 14 million U.S. adults meet the DSM criteria for the diagnosis of alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
  More than 30 percent of high school seniors engage in "binge" or heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks one at least one occasion in the past two weeks).
  Fetal alcohol syndrome, a serious disorder affecting brain function, is the leading preventable birth defect in the U.S., with an incidence estimated at between 0.5 to 3.0 cases per 1,000 births.