Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence


Key priorities for implementation

Identification and assessment in all settings

  • Staff working in services provided and funded by the NHS who care for people who potentially misuse alcohol should be competent to identify harmful drinking and alcohol dependence. They should be competent to initially assess the need for an intervention or, if they are not competent, they should refer people who misuse alcohol to a service that can provide an assessment of need

Assessment in specialist alcohol services

  • Consider a comprehensive assessment for all adults referred to specialist services who score more than 15 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). A comprehensive assessment should assess multiple areas of need, be structured in a clinical interview, use relevant and validated clinical tools, and cover the following areas:
    • alcohol use, including:
      • consumption: historical and recent patterns of drinking (using, for example, a retrospective drinking diary), and if possible, additional information (for example, from a family member or carer)
      • dependence (using, for example, SADQ or Leeds Dependence Questionnaire [LDQ])
      • alcohol-related problems (using, for example, Alcohol Problems Questionnaire [APQ])

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