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Publication Date: 09/06/2009 

Programme to curb drinking 

Bid to cut binge drinking 



An alcohol screening programme is being launched by NHS Lanarkshire to reduce consumption and the effects of binge drinking.

A high number of patients who attend accident and emergency departments, and emergency admissions, do so because of alcohol misuse.

In an attempt to tackle this problem before people need hospital treatment, the Scottish Government has incorporated an alcohol screening target into the HEAT performance framework.

This target requires NHS Lanarkshire to deliver 16,057 brief interventions by March 2011.

Accident and emergency frontline staff will receive training in the use of the fast alcohol screening test (FAST), a screening tool used to identify early hazardous alcohol use.

It is based in recommended limits and detects potentially harmful levels of use.

Pauline Izat, substance misuse nurse specialist, based at Monklands Hospital, said: “Evidence suggests that patients accept being questioned about their alcohol use and it has been shown that specific brief intervention techniques have a beneficial effect in reducing consumption and binge drinking in at risk drinkers at 12 months.

“It is hoped that this approach, using FAST, will influence and challenge alcohol use and improve long term health outcomes.”

The substance misuse nurses within each of the three sites will deliver the brief interventions throughout the coming months.

Patients will be selected by reason of presentation.

They will be offered feedback on their FAST score and signposted or referred to the substance misuse nurse team where appropriate.

Brief interventions are already being carried out in the primary care setting to identify patients who may be drinking too much and help them make a positive change.

Recommended Limits of Alcohol Use:

Adult Male:
No more than 21 units a week and a maximum of three to four units daily
Recommended that you should have two alcohol free days a week

Adult Female:
No more than 14 units a week and a maximum of two to three units daily.
Recommended that you should have two alcohol free days a week

Did you Know?
A 250ml glass of 12 per cent volume wine is three units

One pint of four per cent volume standard lager is 2.3 units