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GPs urged to identify hazardous drinking



GPs have been urged to be on the lookout for problem drinkers, as a new report warned that hazardous drinking among well-educated women is on the rise.

An international study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) warned that the drinking behaviours for this cohort of women were ‘converging’ to those of men.

The Tackling Harmful Alcohol Use: Economics and Public Health Policy report recommended Governments strengthen alcohol policies to improve population health, including imposing new regulations on alcohol advertising, increasing education and considering minimum unit alcohol pricing.

The OECD said policies should target heavy drinkers first, via GPs, as rates of hazardous and heavy binge drinking has increased sharply over the past 30 years among young people, and especially women. On the whole, UK is above average among OECD countries for dangerous alcohol consumption.

The report said: ‘Policies should target heavy drinkers first […] through primary care physicians who can identify harmful drinkers and persuade them to start dealing with the issue.’

It added: ‘Less educated men are more likely to indulge in heavy drinking while the opposite is true for women, where the better educated are more prone to heavy drinking…’

‘The drinking behaviours of young, better educated, and higher socioeconomic status women are converging to those of men.’

OECD secretary general Angel Gurria said: ‘The cost to society and the economy of excessive alcohol consumption around the world is massive, especially in OECD countries.’