Intended for healthcare professionals


British drinking: a suitable case for treatment?

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 08 September 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:527
  1. Wayne Hall, professor (
  1. Office of Public Policy and Ethics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, St Lucia 4072, Australia

    Cut tax on low alcohol drinks, curb drink driving, and offer brief interventions

    The rising consumption of alcohol per capita in Britain over the past 20 years has produced large increases in the prevalence of alcoholic cirrhosis, alcohol related violence, and heavy alcohol use, costing the British economy around £30bn ($55bn; €44bn) a year.1 About 7.5% of men and 2.1% of women in Britain are dependent on alcohol, among the highest rates in the European Union.2

    Two papers in this issue show that two relatively brief psychosocial interventions—motivational enhancement treatment and social network therapy—are effective and cost effective in treating alcohol dependence, when delivered under routine clinical conditions in the NHS.3 4 The UK government could realise its stated aim of increasing access to effective treatments for alcohol dependence by investing in these interventions.

    Britain also urgently needs to reduce the high rates of …

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