Review decision: 

This guidance will not be updated.

Next review: To be scheduled

This guidance is for government, industry and commerce, the NHS and all those whose actions affect the population’s attitude to – and use of – alcohol. This includes commissioners, managers and practitioners working in:

  • local authorities
  • education
  • the wider public, private, voluntary and community sectors.

It may also be of interest to members of the public.

This is one of three pieces of NICE guidance addressing alcohol-related problems among people aged 10 years and older. (See also: alcohol-use disorders in adults and young people: clinical management (CG100); and alcohol dependence and harmful use: diagnosis and management in young people and adults (CG115).)

Alcohol-related harm is a major health problem. The guidance identifies how government policies on alcohol pricing, its availability and how it is marketed could be used to combat such harm (see recommendation 1 to 3). Changes in policy in these areas is likely to be more effective in reducing alcohol-related harm among the population as a whole than actions undertaken by local health professionals.

The recommendations for practice (recommendations 4 to 12) support, complement – and are reinforced by – these policy options. They cover:

  • Licensing.
  • Resources for identifying and helping people with alcohol-related problems.
  • Children and young people aged 10 to 15 years – assessing their ability to consent, judging their alcohol use, discussion and referral to specialist services.
  • Young people aged 16 and 17 years – identification, offering motivational support or referral to specialist services.
  • Adults – screening, brief advice, motivational support or referral.

This guidance was previously called alcohol-use disorders: preventing harmful drinking.

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with compliance with those duties.

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