Alcohol use disorders

Quick reference guide

It is estimated that over 10.5 million adults in the UK drink in excess of recommended guidelines.

Excessive alcohol consumption accounts for:

    • 80% of deaths from liver cirrhosis. 
    • 15,000 - 22,000 premature deaths in England and Wales.

There is a national government public sector agreement (PSA) target to reduce alcohol-related hospital admissions by at least 1% a year (NI39PSA).

It is recommended that women drink no more than two to three units of alcohol a day and men drink no more than three to four units a day with a break of two alcohol free days a week for all. However, this should be adjusted for individuals.

One unit of alcohol is approximately 8g or 10ml of ethanol. Examples are:

    • One measure (25ml) of spirits (alcohol by volume 40%)
    • A third to half a pint of beer (alcohol by volume 5-6%)
    • A small glass (125ml) of wine (alcohol by volume (12%)

Risk of alcohol related health issues is defined as low, increasing and high. This allows drinkers to be classified according to level of risk and hence appropriate support provided.

When advising a patient about alcohol consumption, the following should be taken into consideration: what medication they are taking, underlying medical conditions, if they are pregnant or trying to conceive.

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