Intended for healthcare professionals


Teaching postgraduates about managing drug and alcohol misuse

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 04 September 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5816
  1. Zoe Morris-Williams, clinical lecturer1,
  2. Lynn Monrouxe, senior lecturer1,
  3. Andrew Grant, clinical senior lecturer1,
  4. Adrian Edwards, professor2
  1. 1Institute of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4YS, UK
  2. 2Cochrane Institute for Primary Care and Public Health, School of Medicine, Cardiff University
  1. zrm98{at}

Report from UK medical royal colleges outlines the key competencies

A working group of the UK medical royal colleges reported recently on the core competencies needed by all postgraduate specialist trainees regarding substance misuse.1 This follows other recent reports, including those from individual royal colleges, parliament, and other stakeholders, that highlight the need to change the system by which we recognise and manage drug and alcohol misuse. Such changes were implemented in the undergraduate curriculum after the International Centre for Drug Policy produced guidance on teaching about substance misuse in 2007.2 However, the knowledge and skills learnt at medical school are not yet part of the core competencies of postgraduate medical training in the United Kingdom.

The increasing use of illicit drugs and the hazardous consumption of alcohol provide a growing challenge for the NHS. In 2009-10, more than one million hospital admissions in England were alcohol related,3 at a cost of almost £3bn (€3.8bn; $4.7bn).4 It is estimated that in England alone, 25% of the adult population (7.6 million people) drink hazardous amounts of alcohol and almost half of them show signs of alcohol related ill health.4 In addition, around 9% of adults questioned as part of the British crime survey 2010-11 admitted to illicit …

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