Unhealthy alcohol use damages health. It can hurt relationships; increase risks for accidents and violence; and causes problems with the liver, brain, and heart. A form of unhealthy alcohol use known as “risky drinking” does not always signal alcohol dependence, but it does put people at risk for future problems. Several standard questions can help identify people who have such alcohol problems as risky drinking or dependence. Brief counseling by doctors or other health care professionals in outpatient settings can help people cut back or stop drinking if they are drinking too much. It is not known whether brief counseling delivered to patients during a hospital stay can reduce unhealthy alcohol use.