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Guidance to tackle alcohol problems

24th February 2011

The NHS drugs advisory body has called for screening and better access to alcohol withdrawal services.

wineglasses

Under the move, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published new guidance.

The call comes as figures show just 6% of people in England with an alcohol problem are receiving treatment for it.

With more than a million people dependant on alcohol, there are 940,000 who do not seek help, do not have access to the relevant services, or whose symptoms are not being appropriately identified by healthcare professionals, say NICE.

To help address the position, NICE has published guidance outlining how the NHS should diagnose, assess and treat the condition.

Dr Fergus Macbeth, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “People who suffer from alcohol dependence often face much stigma and discrimination in their day to day lives which can act as a barrier to them seeking help.

“Our guideline calls for all healthcare professionals who come into contact with these people to be appropriately trained to identify those in need and be able to offer them help in a trusting, supportive and non-judgemental environment.”

The guidelines aim to help relevant health and social care professionals identify patients who could be misusing alcohol and then make accurate diagnoses and measure the severity of their patients’ dependence.

Harmful drinkers should be offered psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, behavioural couples therapy or social network and environment-based therapies and heavier drinkers offered a structured assisted withdrawal programme.

 

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