Share your insights

Help us by sharing what content you've recieved in your exams

Alcohol History


  • Wash hands
  • Introduce self
  • Ask Patient’s name, DOB and what they like to be called
  • Explain and obtain consent

Alcohol use

  • Current use
    • What: how much (units = %abv. x litres volume), type of alcohol
    • When: times of day, days of week, continuous/binge
    • Where: pub, home alone, work
    • Why: social, underlying issues (family, relationships, depression etc.), availability, stress, psychiatric problems
  • Past (alcohol timeline)
    • 5 year intervals – any personal correlations?
    • Ever tried to cut down – what happened?
    • Treatments and detoxes and how they went
    • Relapse reasons

Units by alcoholic drink type

Social effects

  • Effect on self (e.g. injuries, medical conditions)
  • Effect on family/friends
  • Effect on work
  • Effect on finances
  • Any trouble with police related to alcohol
  • Driving


Physical dependence

    • Tolerance

    • Autonomic withdrawal symptoms: tremor, sweating, nausea/vomiting, palpitations

    • Neurological withdrawal symptoms: agitation, headache, hallucinations, seizures, insomnia

Psychological dependence

  • Compulsion/persistent desire to drink
  • Lots of time spent drinking
  • Given up activities/hobbies or spending less time with family/friends

Mood and risk

  • Effect on mood
  • Assess risk of self harm/suicide

Rest of history

  • Past psychiatric history: any disorders including anxiety and depression
  • PMHx: physical health problems due to alcohol/drugs (e.g. peptic ulcer disease, liver disease, upper GI bleeding, memory loss)
  • DHx
  • FHx: family alcohol use
  • SHx: recreational drug use, smoking, family/living/working situation

Want to test yourself?

What help is available to people struggling with alcohol use?

Oops! This section is restricted to members. Click here to signup!

A patient tells you they drink 3 bottles of wine a day. What is their approximate weekly alcohol unit intake?

Oops! This section is restricted to members. Click here to signup!

What are the options for undertaking an alcohol detox?

Oops! This section is restricted to members. Click here to signup!

Now try some OSCE stations!

  1. Alcohol-related problems
  2. Pancreatitis
  3. There are lots more where these came from!

No comments yet πŸ˜‰

Leave a Reply