Screening for Addiction with CAGE-AID

Do you ever think that maybe you're drinking a little too much, or too often? Is your drug use likely to become a problem? Would you know when it's time to get help?

There is a tool that can be used in the privacy of your home, as long as you're honest with yourself.

Originally developed by Dr. John Ewing in 1984, the CAGE questionnaire was intended to be used as a self-assessment of dependency on alcohol. Since then, a variation of the CAGE questionnaire has been adapted to identify dependency on both alcohol and other drugs.

Known as the CAGE-AID questionnaire, the last part simply means Adapted to Include Drugs.

An acronym (Cut, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye), each of the letter of CAGE refers to one of the four questions in the self-assessment.

  • Cut down: In the last three months, have you felt that you should Cut down or stop drinking or using drugs?
  • Annoyed: In the last three months, has anyone Annoyed you or gotten on your nerves by telling you that you should stop drinking or using drugs?
  • Guilty: In the last three months, have you felt Guilty or bad about how much you drink or use drugs?
  • Eye-opener: In the last three months, have you been waking up wanting to have a drink or use drugs?

If you're using lethal and illegal substances, the screening tool is unnecessary. You do need help. But if you're drinking a lot, or using other mind-altering substances, and you find yourself wondering if it's time to cut back, give yourself a point.

Give yourself another point if someone has made annoying comments to you, suggesting that you cut back your drinking or drug use. If you're feeling angry or annoyed because others are intervening, it might be time to think about solutions.

Guilt works both ways. You might be feeling guilty over things that you said or did while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or your loved ones might feel guilty because they are p
owerless to help. Guilt should score you a point.

The eye-opener doesn't have to be a drink or drug use first thing in the morning. If you find yourself needing a drink to get through a stressful situation, a pill to calm you before an important meeting, or something to help you relax at the end of the day, this deserves a point.

For every yes answer to any of the four questions, score a point.

When used as a screening tool in a primary care setting, a total score of 2 or higher is considered to be clinically significant. As a self-assessment tool, you should be concerned if you've answered yes to any one of these questions.

CAGE-AID is not a diagnostic tool. This test alone should not be used to self-diagnose a problem, but it can be used to help you determine whether you need further information.

The folks at Pir2Peer Recovery Community Center are not medical professionals but they are trained and knowledgeable in recovery issues, and have resources that are likely to be helpful.

Pir2Peer has recently moved to a larger, more centrally located, home in Medway, Maine. The Center is in the former DAV Building, more recently Two Rivers Canoe & Tackle, at 2323 Medway Road, and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The phone number is (207)447-9500.