Help Patients with Substance Abuse Problems with Alcoholism Core Measures

Alcoholism Core Measures

Alcoholism is a prevalent problem, causing approximately 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States. Not only does it lead to medical problems, it puts a strain on the society as well. In fact, alcoholism has cost the a whopping $185 billion in expenditures.

Apart from causing dependence, constant alcohol use can lead to stroke, cirrhosis, cancer and arrhythmias, to name a few. Since dependence and addiction to this substance can be easily prevented, the Joint Commission has come up with proven-effective core measures.

Alcohol Use Screening

Patients admitted in the hospital – with an alcohol test indicative of acute intoxication – are subjected to screening. These individuals should be 18 years of age. They should have been hospitalized anywhere from a day to 120 days.  Data elements that should be included in the process are the following:

  • Admission date
  • Birthdate
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Discharge date

As a registered nurse, you have to ensure that the screening process is done and documented – or why it has been refused by certain individuals.


Alcohol Use Brief Intervention Provided or Offered

An estimated 22.6 million people meet the criteria for alcoholism and substance use disorder. Fortunately, Obama care has expanded benefits for alcoholism treatment. Consequently, more and more individuals can receive the proper therapy they need.

Acknowledging the impact of alcohol use, several clinical trials were held to determine the best health care solution for these individuals. According to the studies, brief interventions, especially those given before the onset of addiction, can markedly reduce alcohol-related expenses. Treatment referral is also deemed beneficial in clients diagnosed with alcoholism.

As a nurse, you should know your facility’s policies regarding brief treatment. Make sure to initiate and document this process as indicated.

Alcoholism Treatment Provided or Offered at Discharge

While a stint in an urgent care facility can reduce alcoholism tendencies, the will to stay sober can immediately go away upon discharge. To prevent a relapse, the Joint Commission recommends medical and nursing personnel to provide/offer treatment upon discharge.

Such therapies that may be suggested after discharge include detoxification, rehabilitation and maintenance of sobriety. Medications that can be prescribed include Vivitrol, Disulfiram (Antabuse) and Naltrexone (Revia.)

Alcoholism: Assessing Status after Discharge

After discharge, the alcoholic patient is contacted 7 to 30 days after hospitalization. Information such as counseling, use of prescribed meds and quit status are established during this follow-up call.

While the nurse does not play a role in the follow-up process, he can ensure the compliance of the patient by educating him in the urgent care facility. He can foster follow-up by encouraging the patient to live a healthy, alcohol-free life.

Alcoholism can cause a variety of diseases. You, as a nurse, can help in the reduction of relapse and confinement by following these core measures. To learn more about these evidence-based practices, visit

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