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A self-administered 16-page questionnaire eliciting opinions about cut-off points for alcohol misuse was mailed to ten experts (seven men, three women) in alcohol research and treatment. These experts were selected to be representative of alcohol investigators from universities and research institutions from across the United States of America. Experts were asked to provide input with respect to frequency-quantity of alcohol use, high-risk drinking, and negative consequences items. Results revealed considerable variability in opinion about the different indicators of alcohol misuse. Exact agreement between different alcohol-use experts was rare. Reliability estimates revealed highest agreement for indicators of high-risk drinking, followed by negative consequences, and then frequency-quantity. Comments from the experts indicated that most felt that frequency and quantity should be considered together rather than separately. As expected, recommended cut-off points for alcohol misuse varied by age of the drinker, with more leeway given to older than younger adolescents.

Originally published in: Alcohol and Alcoholism, v. 31, no. 3, 1996, pp. 297-303.

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