As a psychologist working in the field of addiction, I am often asked about basic alcohol assessment tools. People want a simple way to identify possible alcohol and substance abuse problems. There are many screening tools available. The CAGE is one of these tools. Healthline.com says it is a questionnaire that professionals use to check for possible signs of alcohol dependency. The questionnaire has four unobtrusive questions asking someone about their alcohol use.
CAGE is an acronym that make the four questions easy to remember.
Cut: Have your ever felt you should cut down on your drinking?
Annoyed: Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
Guilty: Have you ever felt guilty about your drinking?
Eye-opener: Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (eye-opener) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?
The person gives a yes or no answer to each question. Each yes answer increases the possibility that the person may have alcohol dependency. As a rule, 2 or 3 “yes” answers indicate possible alcohol problems. Physicians sometimes attach more significance to question four, because it is a sign that someone might have withdrawal symptoms.
There is a variation of the CAGE questionnaire called the CAGE-AID. This questionnaire adds AID for – adapted to include drugs. It uses the same questions as the CAGE. However, it adds drug use along with drinking.
The CAGE asks direct questions. It helps the person consider their alcohol use without judgement. It is not a foolproof test. It is a simple screening tool that can be used quickly to identify potential problems. It was designed to be used by physicians as a way get helpful alcohol consumption information. The questions are worth considering for anyone who thinks they might be developing or have a drinking problem. I hope you find this information helpful when considering alcohol consumption for yourself or people you care about.
Steven J. Chen, Ph.D.