NICE alcohol-use disorders guideline

A nurse consulting with a woman in NICE Orange

A concise summary of the NICE guideline on diagnosis, assessment, and management of alcohol-use disorders in adults, young people, and children.

Harmful drinking can directly lead to psychological problems, physical illness and accidents and injury. Over the long term, alcohol misuse can contribute to hypertension, cirrhosis, heart disease and cancer risk including mouth, liver, bowel and breast cancer. More than 24% of the English population consume alcohol in a way that may harm their health, and 1 million people aged 16-65 in the UK meet criteria for alcohol dependence. Diagnosis is based on history of alcohol use rather than investigations such as liver function testing. Severity assessment is important in determining appropriate treatment; in some cases acute withdrawal may lead to seizures, delirium tremens or death.

This Guidelines for Nurses summary provides recommendations for specialist assessment of harmful drinking and appropriate intervention types based on level of alcohol misuse, community support and age.

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