This site is intended for healthcare professionals only

Understanding the patient perspective in alcohol misuse

Written by: | Published:

Primary care nurses can do much to help combat alcohol misuse and to provide support to patients and their families. Whether they are practice nurses, seeing patients in consultations, or community nurses, visiting patients in their own homes, two messages of fundamental importance apply.

These have been gleaned from personal experience and those of patients and specialist alcohol professionals whom we have met while researching two books about alcohol addition.

The importance of listening
The first message is never to underestimate the importance of simply listening to patients. Feedback from specialist nurses working in drug and alcohol units suggests that a lot of patients have drawn attention to their alcohol misuse to nurses and GPs only to find the issue is not explored. This may result from time restraints or because alcohol addiction isn't sufficiently prioritised.

Second, clinicians may underestimate the dangers of physically-addicted drinkers going 'cold turkey' and not acknowledge the difference between a psychological addiction and a physical addiction.

Patients with a psychological addiction to alcohol are unlikely to cause themselves significant harm by stopping drinking. If, however, they suffer withdrawal symptoms, then their addiction has progressed to a physical one, and stopping suddenly could cause memory loss, brain damage or even death.

Please login or register to read the rest of the article and to have access to downloads and comments.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet your views to @IndyNurseMag

This material is protected by MA Healthcare Ltd copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Read a free issue from Practice Nursing

Register to read a free issue from our sister publication, Practice Nursing.

Including articles on asthma, diabetes and more. Read your copy.


Sign up to the newsletter


Independent Nurse is the professional resource for primary care and community nurses, providing clinical articles for practice nurses and prescribers.


Subscribe to our newsletter and stay up to date with the latest nursing news.

Stay Connected

Stay social with Independent Nurse by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or connecting on LinkedIn.


Need access to some of our older articles? You can view our archive, or alternatively contact us.

Contact Us

MA Healthcare Ltd.
St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road
London, SE24 0PB

Tel: +44 (0)20 7738 5454
Registered in England and Wales No. 01878373

Meet the team


Find out how to contribute to Independent Nurse here.