March 17, 2022

California: Alcohol and drug screening requirements for primary care providers

California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Policy Letter APL 21-014 and United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines require primary care providers (PCPs) to provide alcohol and drug Screening Assessment, Brief Interventions and Referral to Treatment (SABIRT) services.

These requirements apply to all patients ages 11 and older, including pregnant women.

What this means for you
When screening UnitedHealthcare Community Plan members, recommended validated screening tools include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Cut Down-Annoyed-Guilty-Eye-Opener Adapted to Include Drugs (CAGE-AID)
  2. Tobacco, Alcohol, Prescription medication and other Substances (TAPS)
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Quick Screen for adults
    • The single NIDA Quick Screen alcohol-related question can be used for alcohol use screening
  4.  Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10)
  5. Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-C)
  6. Parents, Partner, Past and Present (4Ps) for pregnant women and adolescents
  7. Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble (CRAFFT) for non-pregnant adolescents
  8. Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test Geriatric (MAST-G) alcohol screening for geriatric population

You can request copies of these tools by emailing us at

You can read the entire requirement and resource list in the CA DHCS policy letter. If you have questions, please contact us at