Doing it by numbers: A simple approach to reducing the harms of alcohol
Much the same way individuals are encouraged to know their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a new editorial in the Journal of Psychopharmacology urges the European public to know and monitor their alcohol intake number using a simple 10 point plan. Scientists Jürgen Rehm from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada, and David Nutt, Neuropsychopharmacologist from Imperial College London and Vice President of the European Brain Council, have created an integrated set of evidence-based strategies focusing on what individuals and governments can do to reduce the personal and public costs of alcohol. “Alcohol is one of the leading causes of disease and disability in the UK and Europe”, says Jürgen Rehm. “And the harm attributable to alcohol could be easily reduced.”
Alcohol use is one of the top five causes of disease and disability in almost all countries in Europe, and in the eastern part of Europe it is the number one cause. In the UK, alcohol is now the leading cause of death in men between the ages of 16–54 years, accounting for over 20% of the total. Europeans above 15 years of age in the EU on average consume alcohol at a level which is twice as high as the world average. Alcohol should therefore be a public health priority, but it is not. This paper puts forward a new approach to reduce alcohol use and harms that would have major public health and social impacts. Our approach comprises individual behaviour and policy elements. It is based on the assumption that heavy drinking is key. It is simple, so it would be easy to introduce, and because it lacks stigmatising issues such as the diagnosis of addiction and dependence, it should not be contentious.
David J Nutt and Jürgen Rehm
Doing it by numbers: A simple approach to reducing the harms of alcohol J Psychopharmacol January 2014 28: 3-7, doi:10.1177/0269881113512038