Helping to curb alcohol problems
“My drinking problem crept up on me when I was going through a bit of a rough time. Rather than facing up to my problems I chose to hit the bottle and drink by myself at home, which only made things worse,” says Jayne Gosnall.
Jayne battled with alcohol misuse for 9 months.
“My family and I have been affected and touched in many ways by alcohol misuse. I would constantly put myself at risk by forgetting to lock my doors at night or by accidentally injuring myself.”
Sadly, Jayne's story is a common one, with 1 in 4 men and women now believed to be drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol. It results in an estimated 15,000 deaths - and almost 900,000 hospital visits - a year in England, at a cost to the NHS of £2 billion every year.
Although people who drink too much are, on average, seen twice as often by healthcare professionals, the opportunity to pick up on the signs is often missed. NICE says use of a simple questionnaire could ensure any problems are spotted early on.
We are calling for a range of professionals to use the questionnaire with people who may be at risk of harm from the amount of alcohol they drink. These professionals include GPs, nurses, pharmacists, those working in accident and emergency (A&E) departments, social care, criminal justice and the community and voluntary sectors.
The questionnaire can be used with both young people (aged 16 and 17) and adults and takes just 5-10 minutes to complete. It includes straightforward questions which aim to find out if they need help, such as:
· How often do you have a drink containing alcohol?
· How many standard drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when drinking?
· During the past year, have you been unable to remember what happened the night before because you had been drinking?
· Have you or someone else been injured as a result of your drinking?
Jayne, who helped NICE develop the guidance ‘Alcohol-use disorders: preventing harmful drinking', believes it will encourage people to think about just how much they are drinking - before it becomes a problem for them, their families and others around them.
Looking back, she remembers several ‘missed opportunities' when someone could have asked her a bit more about her drinking habits - and whether she was perhaps drinking too much. This includes when she went to her GP with depression and when she was in A&E following an accident.
As she points out: “This might have made a difference and stopped things from getting as bad as they did.”
This page was last updated: 22 June 2010