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Reducing Alcohol Harm

Tackling alcohol misuse: Should abstinence be our preferred approach?

The British Liver Trust is launching a new report today which argues that people with alcohol problems must be offered effective support and treatment to meet their individual needs, an‘individual person-centred journey’ as the Government’s drug strategy would describe it. There has been much talk about ‘recovery’ and ‘abstinence-based approaches’ for those with alcohol dependence. Our report suggests that it is vital that people who misuse alcohol are not treated by a one-size fits all abstinence approach; but, to be as successful as possible, healthcare professionals must work with patients to understand their preferences in setting goals to reduce their alcohol harm. Problem drinkers are after all a mixed bag of people with a range of mild, moderate and severe alcohol dependence.

The core focus of alcohol policy debates should be on preventing liver disease. This means that GPs, nurses and other health professionals should screen for alcohol misuse more widely, to ensure that those drinking at harmful levels are identified and offered appropriate support, advice and treatment.

Tackling alcohol misuse: Should abstinence be our preferred approach? Commentary by Andrew Langford, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, read more...