Summary: Substance Use Terminology

  • Substance use terminology is important to define precisely for patients to prevent misconceptions. If we are not using words the same way, we are likely to miscommunicate!
  • Data exists that define relative low-risk alcohol consumption limits
  • Little data exist to define low-risk use of other substances
  • There is a ‘standard drink’ and patients often badly estimate the size of a ‘drink’

There are materials to help us explain limits and standard drinks to patients. These can make our patient interactions more accurate and effective as we screen, briefly intervene, and refer to treatment.