What is MAST and Can this Alcoholism Test Help You?

Living with, or watching a loved one live with, alcoholism can be extremely difficult. As a complex and chronic relapsing brain disease, alcohol addiction is indiscriminate, causing compulsive use and an inability to control intake of alcohol in individuals of every race, sex, age, and background. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older, and an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12 to 17 had experienced alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the previous year. These figures are significant, as uncontrolled use and abuse of alcohol negatively impacts life at home, work, and/or school, can cause serious physical and mental health complications, often leading to increased risky behaviors.

While every situation is different, and no one treatment plan is guaranteed to cure the condition, it’s clear that those who acknowledge their addictions, seek assistance, and receive treatment benefit from the process. Studies show on-going treatment drastically increases the chance of long-term recovery.

For many who struggle with alcoholism, the most difficult task is accepting that the addiction is real. If you’re unsure whether your use of alcohol, or a loved one’s, is exceeding normal limits, it is often helpful to have a reference point for comparison. In many cases, the Michigan Alcoholism Screen Test (MAST) can provide an unofficial initial diagnosis that may serve as the necessary catalyst for speaking with a specialist.

What is the MAST Test?

The Michigan Alcoholism Screen Test is one of the oldest and most utilized measures for assessing alcohol use and abuse in adults and adolescents. Developed by Melvin L. Selzer, the test was first published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1971. It’s comprised of 25 questions related to a self-appraisal of social, vocational, and family problems frequently associated with heavy drinking. It was specifically designed to screen for alcohol-related problems and addiction, the test has been found to have an effectiveness rate of up to 98%. This means that answering the questions honestly can quite accurately estimate your or a loved one’s alcoholism danger level.

Questions are provided in a binary choice (yes/no) format. Those taking the test should consider each question carefully before answering. Points for each selection can range from one to five and are assigned depending upon whether the item is worded positively or negatively. Higher scores indicate tendencies toward alcoholism, with a maximum result of 53. Scores below four generally suggest no alcohol abuse is present and scores above seven imply significant alcoholism.

The MAST test may be self-administered, completed during a healthcare interview, or provided by a third party (i.e. spouse, parent, etc.). There is no training required to administer the test and copies can be attained for free. Answering the questionnaire usually takes about eight minutes and scoring or interpreting the results can be done in approximately five minutes.

Take the Test Below

1. Do you enjoy drinking now and then?

2. Do you feel you are a normal drinker? ("normal" - drink as much or less than most other people)

3. Have you ever awakened the morning after some drinking the night before and found that you could not remember a part of the evening?

4. Does your wife, husband, a parent, or other near relative ever worry or complain about your drinking?

5. Can you stop drinking without a struggle after one or two drinks?

6. Do you ever feel guilty about your drinking?

7. Do friends or relatives think you are a normal drinker?

8. Are you able to stop drinking when you want to?

9. Have you ever attended a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for yourself?

10. Have you gotten into physical fights when drinking?

11. Has you drinking ever created problems between you and your wife, husband, a parent, or other relative?

12. Has your wife, husband (or other family members) ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking?

13. Have you ever lost friends because of your drinking?

14. Have you ever gotten into trouble at work or school because of drinking?

15. Have you ever lost a job because of drinking?

16. Have you ever neglected your obligations, your family, or your work for two or more days in a row because you were drinking?

17. Do you drink before noon fairly often?

18. Have you ever been told you have liver trouble? Cirrhosis?

19. After heavy drinking have you ever had Delirium Tremens (D.T.s) or severe shaking, or heard voices, or seen things that are really not there?

20. Have you ever gone to anyone for help about your drinking?

21. Have you ever been in a hospital because of drinking?

22. Have you ever been a patient in a psychiatric hospital or on a psychiatric ward of a general hospital where drinking was part of the problem that resulted in hospitalization?

23. Have you ever been seen at a psychiatric or mental health clinic or gone to any doctor, social worker, or clergyman for help with any emotional problem, where drinking was part of the problem?

24. Have you ever been arrested for drunk driving, driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages?

25. Have you ever been arrested, or taken into custody even for a few hours, because of other drunk behavior?

Your Results

Professional alcohol treatment centers provide help for many in need. To hear about rehab options for you or someone you know, dial our 24/7 help line at 1.855.218.5225

When Should You Take the MAST Test?

Should you or someone you know take the MAST test? Knowing the risk factors associated with alcohol use disorder can help you determine when assessment and intervention is most necessary.

Some of the most common warning signs of alcoholism include:

  • Experiencing temporary blackouts and/or short-term memory loss after drinking
  • Exhibiting signs of irritability and/or extreme mood swings
  • Making excuses for drinking more than generally acceptable
  • Choosing to drink instead of fulfilling other responsibilities
  • Becoming isolated and distant from family members and friends
  • Feeling poorly after spending a period of time not drinking
  • Drinking when alone or in secrecy

Ultimately, if you are concerned about the alcohol consumption habits of yourself, a family member, or a friend, it’s likely worth bringing up the MAST test. No harm comes from self-screening or screening others and it may be the best first step toward recovery.