This guideline covers identifying, assessing and managing alcohol-use disorders (harmful drinking and alcohol dependence) in adults and young people aged 10–17 years. It aims to reduce harms (such as liver disease, heart problems, depression and anxiety) from alcohol by improving assessment and setting goals for reducing alcohol consumption.
Harmful drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption causing health problems directly related to alcohol. This could include psychological problems such as depression, alcohol-related accidents or physical illness such as acute pancreatitis. In the longer term, harmful drinkers may go on to develop high blood pressure, cirrhosis, heart disease and some types of cancer, such as mouth, liver, bowel or breast cancer.
Alcohol dependence is characterised by craving, tolerance, a preoccupation with alcohol and continued drinking in spite of harmful consequences (for example, liver disease or depression caused by drinking). Alcohol dependence is also associated with increased criminal activity and domestic violence, and an increased rate of significant mental and physical disorders.
[Alcohol dependence] affects 4% of people aged between 16 and 65 in England, and over 24% of the English population consume alcohol in a way that is potentially or actually harmful to their health or well-being.
It affects 4% of people aged between 16 and 65 in England (6% of men and 2% of women), and over 24% of the English population (33% of men and 16% of women) consume alcohol in a way that is potentially or actually harmful to their health or well-being. Alcohol misuse is also an increasing problem in children and young people, with over 24,000 treated in the NHS for alcohol-related problems in 2008 and 2009.
Of the 1 million people aged between 16 and 65 who are alcohol dependent in England, only about 6% per year receive treatment. Reasons for this include the often long period between developing alcohol dependence and seeking help, and the limited availability of specialist alcohol treatment services in some parts of England. Additionally, alcohol misuse is under-identified by health and social care professionals, leading to missed opportunities to provide effective interventions.
You can read the guideline on NICE's website.