New guidelines to help health professionals breach the topic of risky drinking with patients and clients and connect them to effective treatment are now available. The guideline, published earlier this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is the first of its kind in the country, at a time when high-risk drinking is relatively common while medical intervention is rare.
Nearly one in five people 15 and older will meet clinical criteria for an alcohol-use disorder in their lifetime, while nearly 60 per cent drink more than advised under Canada’s national alcohol-consumption recommendations, which were published earlier this year. The recommendations note that health risks start to escalate when a person consumes three to six alcoholic drinks a week, and that seven or more drinks is linked to worse outcomes.
Alcohol-use disorder is defined as a pattern of heavy drinking and loss of control over intake despite negative consequences. While high risk drinking is common, few people ever get treatment, according to clinicians who helped create the new guidelines.
If patients meet the criteria for a disorder, the recommendations walk health professionals through possible next steps, including medication or other interventions such as therapy to help individuals manage mild or severe withdrawal symptoms.
It is hoped the new guideline will help reduce some of the stigma around alcohol use, which can prevent people from talking about it.
If you are struggling with heavy drinking and are seeking support, we can help.