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Pavan Grewal

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (2023)

Public Health Perspective

Alcoholism in the UK

Why are the rates so high?

(National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,2023)

What is alcoholism?

  • Known as alcohol use disorder (AUD)
  • The inability to control alcohol use
  • Changes in the brain allow for AUD to perpetuate
  • Exists on a spectrum

(Drinkaware, 2019)

(National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,2020)

  • In 2021, 28.6 million adults were diagnosed with AUD
  • 894,000 12-17yr olds were diagnosed with AUD
  • Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49 year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages

Alcoholism in the UK


(The Guardian,2018)

Factors affecting the level of AUD

  • The 'Alcohol Harm Paradox'
  • Those of low socioeconomic status (SES) experience greater levels of alcholism than those of high SES
  • Availability and cost of alcohol
  • Provision of services


Current public health measures

Alcohol Screening

  • Uses a test to indentify those who suffer from AUD based on their drinking habits
  • Based on the severity of the disorder, the patient will be directed to the relevent treatment for them


  • Educating professionals on how to identify those whose drinking is affecting their health
  • Learn how to deliver simple, structured advice aimed at reducing this risk

Encouraging Self Awareness

  • Patients are encouraged to calculate their alcohol units and cut back if necessary
  • Patients are provided with an information leaflet with the necessary data for calculations


  • The cultural coverage of policy research is restricted
  • The prevention policies produced are inclined to be best understood by those of higher SES and better English language skills
  • Just providing the information for individuals to gain knowledge on alcoholism is ineffective
  • 'Increased knowledge doesnt equate to changed attitudes'

Issues with the current public health measures

  • most of the treatments do not vary in their outcomes
  • medical and non medical paths of treatment both have similar effectiveness

(World Health Organisation,2019)

Improvements to the current public health measures

  • the services in place need to increase their capacity to be able to meet the demands of the populations in their areas
  • focus on areas of lower socioeconomic status
  • 'improving capacity for prevention, identification and interventions for individuals and families living with fetal alcohol syndrome and a spectrum of associated disorders'
  • 'developing or supporting community programmes and policies for subpopulations at particular risk, such as young people, unemployed persons and culturally diverse communities'

The current public health measures focus on healthcare professionals and self diagnosis/ treatment

Socioeconomic status plays a huge role in the inequalities of AUD in British society known as the Alcohol Harm Paradox

Alcoholism is a broad term that covers all types of alcohol dependence and addiction

Key Takeaway Points

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2023) Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder. [website] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder [Accessed 14/11/23]Knox, J et al. (2019) Prevention, screening, and treatment for heavy drinking and alcohol use disorder. [website] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(19)30213-5/fulltext [Accessed 14/11/23]Copello A, Day E. (2015) Assessment and management of alcohol use disorders. [website] https://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h715 [Accessed 14/11/23]Bloomfield, K. (2020) Understanding the alcohol-harm paradox: what next?. [website] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpub/article/PIIS2468-2667(20)30119-5/fulltext [Accessed 14/11/23]NHS England (2023) About the Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice programme. [website] https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/alcohol/ [Accessed 14/11/23]Babor, T et al. (2005) Alcohol and public health. [website] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673605178702 [Accessed 17/11/23]World Health Organisation. (2019) 10 areas governments could work with to reduce the harmful use of alcohol [website] https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/10-areas-for-national-action-on-alcohol [Accessed 17/11/23]GOV.UK. (2022) Alcohol: applying All Our Health. [website] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/alcohol-applying-all-our-health/alcohol-applying-all-our-health [Accessed 17/11/23]The Gaurdian. (2018) Nearly one-third of alcohol sold in England drunk by 4% of population. [website] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/22/nearly-one-third-of-alcohol-sold-in-england-drunk-by-4-of-population [Accessed 17/11/23]The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. (2023) Simulation modelling of alcohol consumption and the effectiveness of harm-reduction policies. [website] https://preventioncentre.org.au/research-projects/model-behaviour-a-systems-approach-to-alcohol-related-harm/ [Accessed 17/11/23]National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2023) Alcohol Treatment in the United States: Age Groups and Demographic Characteristics. [website] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-topics/alcohol-facts-and-statistics/alcohol-treatment-united-states-age-groups-and-demographic-characteristics [Accessed 27/11/23]Drinkaware. (2019) Alcohol Consumption UK. [website] https://www.drinkaware.co.uk/research/alcohol-facts-and-data/alcohol-consumption-uk [Accessed 27/11/23]BMJ. (2005) Effectiveness of treatment for alcohol problems: findings of the randomised UK alcohol treatment trial (UKATT). [website] https://www.bmj.com/content/331/7516/541 [Accessed 27/11/23]