How good is

❝ alcohol is often used to self-medicate ❞


Alcohol is by far the most commonly misused drug in the UK. It is usually used socially in the first instance but may become a way of coping with difficult situations.

Some frequently asked questions about alcohol treatment...

#1 What can I expect from an alcohol treatment programme?
Benchmark :: UK Alcohol Treatment Trial
This benchmark shows the outcomes from a large multi-centre study in UK alcohol treatment services. The study compared a motivational enhancement intervention and a social network intervention combined with some CBT elements - considered the best treatments available. This study followed and improved on the earlier US Project MATCH.
#2 Is there any medication to help me stay off the drink?
Benchmark :: a trio of medications
This benchmark looks at best practice (a psychological treatment + medication). The main study directly compares the three commonly prescribed medications (acamprosate, naltrexone, disulfiram) both for supervised (best practice) and self administered use. All medications have side effects and so it is important to balance these risks against the risks of continued drinking.
#3 What if depression is part of my problem?
Benchmark :: psychological support
Psychological distress may mimic depression or be a consequence of dependence, and commonly co-exists with drug and alcohol use. This study looked at the use of two psychological treatments for depression in a busy community setting. The charts show significant improvements in both percentage of days abstinent (PDA) and depression (PHQ9) scores. Further improvement would be expected over time.


There are three commonly prescribed relapse prevention medications for alcohol...

  • Acamprosate (Campral™️) mimics some of the effects of alcohol in the brain and it is claimed thereby reduces craving. There are no negative effects from drinking on top of acamprosate.

  • Naltrexone (Nalorex™) blunts the pleasurable effects of drinking and thereby makes continued drinking less likely. The main pharmacological effects only happen during periods of drinking.

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse™) takes away the desire to drink because drinking on top of disulfiram causes an unpleasant, potentially dangerous reaction (sweating, heart pounding, nausea).

Less often prescribed…

  • Nalmefene (Selincro™) is marketed as a medication to help heavy drinkers reduce their consumption. It has essentially the same mode of action as naltrexone.