Last week the Government announced plans to begin giving a new drug to problem drinkers as a means of helping them avoid consuming more than one drink per day. The drug, known as nalmefene, will be offered by GPs during routine examinations. However, as we mentioned in a previous blog post, the benefit of nalmefene will be limited only to certain kinds of drinkers: those who understand they have a problem and generally want to correct it.
The public position recently taken by the Royal College of GPs confirms what we said last week. According to The Telegraph, the medical group maintains the plan could fail because those being targeted (‘mild’ alcoholics) often do not know they have a problem or refuse to take prescription medications designed to help them. Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard echoed those sentiments when she told The Telegraph that, “there is no point prescribing a drug that the patient is unwilling to take.”
The plan to give mild alcoholics nalmefene is expected to directly affect some 600,000 people in England. When used properly, the drug reduces cravings that might be induced after a patient consumes one unit of alcohol. Patients who want to cut down may find it easier to resist after that first drink as a result of taking the pill.
In researching the effectiveness of nalmefene, it was determined that the drug works best when combined with counselling. Nevertheless, as the Royal College of GPs points out, what is the likelihood of mild alcoholics agreeing to counselling if they do not recognise a problem exists?
The Royal College of GPs maintains that nalmefene is a welcome addition to the treatment toolbox, but it is not the panacea the media is making it out to be. It is a very limited tool that will only help certain kinds of people who recognise they have a problem and are willing to do something about it. The drug is not intended for full-blown alcoholics that need residential treatment.
The Alcohol Problem
Here at Addiction Helper, we are firmly convinced that any treatment method providing positive results is one worth considering. However, we are also convinced of the need to approach the alcohol problem from a preventative standpoint rather than a reactionary one. The fact remains that alcohol is the most abused drug in Britain. It is also a legal drug, making it much more difficult to keep under control.
Certain guidelines have been set up by the medical community to define the various levels of problem drinking. We encourage you, regardless of your age, to look into those guidelines. Learn what they are, understand what they mean and gauge your own drinking. If you are problem drinker, understand that even the slightest problem is an open door to eventual alcohol addiction.
Are you a binge drinker? That is, do you regularly spend days at a time drinking in excess? If so, you could already be on your way to alcohol addiction. Binge drinking is, by definition, substance abuse. Substance abuse left untreated frequently ends up in addiction.
There has been much debate recently over whether or not cannabis is as dangerous as we have traditionally believed. Nonetheless, what about alcohol? Excessive alcohol consumption ruins lives by destroying health, destroying relationships, consuming finances, etc. It is not a drug worth using.
You will know soon enough whether you qualify for a nalmefene prescription or not. Doctors are gearing up to begin dispensing it very shortly. Meanwhile, do not hesitate to contact us at Addiction Helper if you need assistance overcoming drugs or alcohol through drug or alcohol detox.
- The Telegraph – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11139040/New-drug-for-mild-alcoholics-will-only-work-if-people-want-to-cut-down-RCGP.html
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