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New brief intervention initiative to tackle alcohol problems

A major new Department of Health funded research programme led by St George’s, University of London and University of Newcastle is launched today.

A major new research programme to tackle alcohol problems is launched today at a national conference hosted by St George’s, University of London.

A new £3.2 million implementation national research programme of alcohol screening and brief intervention, funded by the Department of Health, will identify the best method of helping people with alcohol problems attending primary care, accident and emergency departments, and criminal justice agencies in England. Alcohol misuse and dependence affect 8.2 million adults in England leading to an estimated cost to society of £20 billion per annum. Alcoholic liver disease is at an all time high level, and alcohol is now the 3rd leading cause of ill health after tobacco and high blood pressure.

This research programme, known as the “Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Trailblazers”, aims to find the best method to identify people who are drinking in a harmful way at an early stage, and to provide advice and support to prevent alcohol related harm. As well as evaluating the impact on alcohol consumption and health, the research will assess the cost savings to health and social care services of screening and brief alcohol intervention. Chief Investigator, Professor Colin Drummond of St George’s, University of London said “this will be the largest alcohol treatment research project ever conducted in the UK. This programme aims to find the best method of helping those people whose lives and health are affected by alcohol. Together with our partners, Universities of Newcastle, York, Imperial College and the national non-statutory agency on alcohol misuse Alcohol Concern, we aim to be able to recommend to the government the most cost effective method of helping people who are drinking in a harmful way, in health and criminal justice settings.”

The launch conference for the Trailblazers at St George’s will be attended by over 250 delegates from the health, social care, criminal justice, and voluntary sectors, including a wide range of professionals: researchers, doctors, nurses, psychologists, social workers and probation officers. Entitled “Alcohol misuse: causes, consequences, and solutions”, the conference programme includes contributions from experts in the field of alcohol research and treatment who will describe the impact of alcohol and ways of tackling alcohol related harm.

The conference will be addressed by Caroline Flint, MP, Minister of State for Public Health, who will launch the new research programme. She said: "We are determined to tackle alcohol related harm and have already invested large amounts of time and resources in doing so - for example we launched the hard hitting campaign "Know Your Limits" last week. The fact that we are now funding this £3.2m research programme shows our commitment to creating a culture where responsible drinking is the norm." The conference will also be addressed by Professor Chris Day from Newcastle University who will describe the rising prevalence of alcoholic liver disease, and Professor Robin Touquet, from St Mary’s Hospital in London, will outline the impact of alcohol and binge drinking on accident and emergency departments, as well as ways of tackling the problem. Sarah Mann of the National Probation Directorate will discuss methods of tackling alcohol misuse in the criminal justice system.

Andrea Vazquez | alfa
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