Letters

Treating alcohol dependence

BMJ 1997; 315 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.315.7120.1465a (Published 29 November 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1465

One glass of wine is usually 1.5 units

  1. David M Keeling, Consultant haematologista
  1. a Oxford Haemophilia Centre, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LJ
  2. b Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Kent at Canterbury, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR
  3. c Greenwich District Hospital, London SE10 9HE
  4. d Clinical and Social Psychiatry Research Unit, University Hospital “Marqués de Valdecilla,” Santander, Spain
  5. e Department of Psychological Medicine, Hope Hospital, Salford M6 8HD
  6. * The authors have never held any consultancy or other paid position with the manufacturers of acamprosate.
  7. f Hurley Clinic, London SE11 4HJ

    Editor—In their article on alcohol dependence Ashworth and Gerada state that a unit of alcohol is equal to 10 ml1 (which, incidentally, is approximately 8 g, not 10 g as they state). They also say that many doctors are unaware of the unit values for common alcoholic drinks. Indeed, they show this themselves by saying that a glass of wine contains one unit. Most wine is 12% alcohol and a glass is 125 ml (six glasses to a bottle). An average glass of wine therefore contains 15 ml of alcohol, or one and a half units (as indicated on many supermarket labels). It makes a big difference when calculating people's intake.

    References

    1. 1.

    Supplementation with parenteral B vitamins should be routinely considered

    1. C C H Cook, Professor of the psychiatry of alcohol misuseb,
    2. A D Thomson, Consultant gastroenterologistc
    1. a Oxford Haemophilia Centre, Churchill Hospital, Oxford OX3 7LJ
    2. b Kent Institute of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Kent at Canterbury, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NR
    3. c Greenwich District Hospital, London SE10 9HE
    4. d Clinical and Social Psychiatry Research Unit, University Hospital “Marqués de Valdecilla,” Santander, Spain
    5. e Department of Psychological Medicine, Hope Hospital, Salford M6 8HD
    6. * The authors have never held any consultancy or other paid position with the manufacturers of acamprosate.
    7. f Hurley Clinic, London SE11 4HJ

      Editor—We were pleased that the article on alcohol dependence mentioned use of parenteral B and C vitamins for a selected group of patients during detoxification.1 Currently the use of B complex vitamins in alcohol withdrawal varies in Britain.2

      The prevalence of brain lesions indicative of deficiency of B vitamins in long term alcohol misusers at necropsy has been reported to be as high as 35%.3 Failure to treat severe deficiency of B vitamins is associated with a high morbidity and a 17-20% mortality.3 Of the patients who survive, four fifths develop Korsakoff's psychosis and many will require long term institutionalisation.3 It is therefore crucial to provide adequate supplementation with B vitamins as soon as possible. Oral supplementation is insufficient to restore depleted vitamin concentrations in long term heavy drinkers because it is not adequately absorbed.4

      Patients requiring parenteral treatment are those at high risk of severe deficiency of B vitamins. …

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