This guideline covers diagnosing and managing the physical complications of alcohol-use disorders in people aged 10 and over.

It covers the following physical health problems caused or partly caused by alcohol use:

  • acute alcohol withdrawal
  • thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, which can cause Wernicke’s encephalopathy
  • alcohol-related liver disease
  • alcohol-related pancreatitis.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Healthcare professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • People aged 10 and over with alcohol-use disorders, and their families and carers

Is this guideline up to date?

We reviewed the new evidence in April 2016 and we are updating this guideline. See the guideline in development page for progress on the update.

Next review: 2019

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

This guideline was previously called alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis and clinical management of alcohol-related physical complications.

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.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

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