The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) found good evidence that patients at risk for adverse outcomes from alcohol abuse can be accurately identified in the primary care setting.
They also found evidence that counseling interventions in the primary care setting can positively affect unhealthy drinking behaviors in adults engaging in risky or hazardous drinking, with brief multi-contact behavioral counseling demonstrating the best evidence of effectiveness.
In 2013 the USPSTF therefore recommended that clinicians screen adults age 18 or older for alcohol misuse and provide persons engaged in risky or hazardous drinking with brief behavioral counseling interventions to reduce alcohol misuse.
The USPSTF also found little evidence with regard to screening and counseling adolescents for alcohol use, and noted that there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against screening in this age group.
The CAGE and AUDIT tools are two of several validated instruments that can be used in primary care settings to screen for alcohol abuse.