Describing alcohol consumption and alcohol related  
1. Summary of chapter evidence

 

1.  How should alcohol consumption be described?

Alcohol consumption can be described in terms of grams of alcohol consumed or in terms of standard drinks, where, in Europe, a standard drink commonly contains 10g of alcohol.  

 

2. How can hazardous and harmful drinking and dependence on alcohol be described?

Hazardous alcohol consumption is a level of con­sumption or pattern of drinking that is likely to result in harm should present drinking habits persist; a working definition of the World Health Organization describes it as a regular average consumption of 20g-40g of alcohol a day for women and 40g-60g a day for men.   Harmful drinking is defined as ‘a pattern of drinking that causes damage to health, either physical or mental'; a working definition of the World Health Organization describes it as a regular average consumption of more than 40g alcohol a day for women and more than 60g a day for men. Heavy episodic drinking (sometimes called binge drinking), which can be particularly damaging to some forms of ill-health, can be defined as a consumption of at least 60g of alcohol on one drinking occasion. Alcohol dependence is a cluster of physiological, behavioural, and cognitive phenomena in which the use of alcohol takes on a much higher priority for a given individual than other behaviours that once had greater value.  

 

3.  Do hazardous and harmful drinking and dependence on alcohol exist within a continuum?

Alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm and alcohol dependence exist within a continuum. They are not fixed entities and individuals can move back and forth along the continuum during their lives.

 


Recommendations

 

3.1.  At the scientific level, grams of alcohol are the preferred notation. At the primary health care level, standard drinks are the preferred notation.

 

3.2.  The preferred terms to describe hazardous and harmful drinking patters are hazardous alcohol consumption, harmful alcohol consumption, episodic heavy drinking and alcohol dependence, rather than terms such as alcohol abuse, alcohol misuse, and alcohol dependence.

References



< index

Last modified: 03/05/2006 | Published on: 11/06/2004 Top

 © 2008 PHEPA - Primary Health Care European Project on Alcohol