In this study a simple interview method to identify patients with potential alcohol problems was tested in a clinical setting. Nurses interviewed an unbiased sample of 393 patients attending practices within occupational health care. The technique used was a day by day follow back procedure covering the preceding two weeks. The time needed to accomplish the interviews varied between 2 and 15 minutes, depending on how much alcohol consumption was reported. Nurses and doctors reported that the interview was easily integrated in daily working routines. When defining the limit of high consumption as more than 200 g absolute alcohol for the two week period, 11% of the group studied (17% among men and 2% among women) were regarded as high consumers. Strategies for confronting and motivating patients for further analysis of their alcohol habits and for treatment are discussed.