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Treatment

Alcohol misuse is when you drink in a way that's harmful, or when you're dependent on alcohol. It can seriously damage your health.

Signs of alcohol misuse include feeling like you drink too much, needing to drink regularly, and other people criticising your drinking.

Treatments for alcohol misuse include counselling, talking therapies and medicines that reduce your urge to drink or help with withdrawal symptoms.

Read more on the NHS website.

Signs of alcohol misuse include feeling like you drink too much, needing to drink regularly, and other people criticising your drinking.

Am I drinking too much alcohol?

You could be misusing alcohol if:

Someone you know may be misusing alcohol if:

Read more on the NHS website.

Treatments for alcohol misuse include counselling, talking therapies and medicines that reduce your urge to drink or help with withdrawal symptoms.

Self-care

To keep your risk of alcohol-related harm low:

  • men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week on a regular basis
  • if you drink as much as 14 units a week, it's best to spread this evenly over 3 or more days
  • if you're trying to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink, it's a good idea to have several alcohol-free days each week
  • if you're pregnant or trying to become pregnant, the safest approach is to not drink alcohol at all to keep risks to your baby to a minimum

Regular or frequent drinking means drinking alcohol most days and weeks.

The risk to your health is increased by drinking any amount of alcohol on a regular basis.

Medical treatments

How alcohol misuse is treated depends on how much alcohol a person is drinking.

Treatment options include:

  • counselling – including self-help groups and talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • medicines
  • detoxification – this involves a nurse or doctor supporting you to safely stop drinking; this can be done by helping you slowly cut down over time or by giving you medicines to prevent withdrawal symptoms

There are 2 main types of medicines to help people stop drinking.

The first is to help stop withdrawal symptoms and is given in reducing doses over a short period of time. The most common of these medicines is chlordiazapoxide (Librium).

The second is a medicine to reduce any urge you may have to drink. The most common medicines used for this are acamprosate and naltrexone.

These are both given at a fixed dose, and you'll usually be on them for 6 to 12 months.

Read more on the NHS website.