NICE publishes quality standards for treating alcohol misuse

Managing patients with alcohol dependence and harmful alcohol use is the subject of a new set of quality standards published this week by NICE.

Alcohol dependence affects about 4 per cent of the population (around 1.1 million people) in England aged between 16-65 years old. Over 24 per cent of adults in the UK consume alcohol in a way that is potentially or actually harmful to their health or wellbeing. Alcohol misuse is also a growing problem in children and young people in England, with an estimated 13 children a day admitted to hospital as a result of drinking alcohol.

NICE quality standards set out clinical best practice within a range of topic areas and are developed from the best available evidence and apply nationally across England.

The quality standard on harmful alcohol use and dependence features 13 statements designed to help improve care for people with drinking problems. These include providing alcohol awareness training for health and social care staff, offering patients medically assisted alcohol services within appropriate settings, providing information and support to families and carers of people who misuse alcohol and having regular treatment outcome reviews which can be used to plan subsequent care.

Christine Carson, Programme Director, Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE said: "The new quality standard on alcohol dependence adds to the library of standards already published. It will help healthcare practitioners and commissioners of care services to deliver the best possible, high-quality care to patients. This is at the heart of what the NHS is all about, and I am sure it will be welcomed by patients and healthcare professionals alike."

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Alcohol dependence and harmful alcohol use quality standard