For health professionals

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can talk about alcohol consumption with your patients, here are a few resources that could help:

2009 NHMRC Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol

These guidelines summarise ways to reduce a person’s lifetime harm from alcohol consumption. It is worth noting they are not explicit about the risk of alcohol to cancer. There is no safe level of consumption for alcohol and cancer, and the more a person drinks, the greater their risk. These guidelines are currently under review and will be updated in late 2019.

AUDIT and AUDIT-C alcohol questionnaires

Despite clinical guidelines recommending that the quantity and frequency that Australian adults drink should be formally assessed by healthcare professionals, we know there are barriers to doing this regularly in clinical practice.

One comprehensive tool you could use is the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). This is a simple way to screen patients for excessive drinking and to assist in brief assessment.

Alternatively, an abbreviated version of this tool is AUDIT-C. This tool asks three questions to find out:

  • how often someone drinks alcohol
  • how many standard drinks they have on a particular day, and
  • how often they have six or more drinks on any occasion

Each person then gets a score that can indicate they are at risk of harmful drinking, which can prompt a discussion about their drinking.

The RACGP also provides information on how you could use these tools, and others, with your patients.

Information and groups to signpost to

If your patients want to learn more about cutting down the amount of alcohol they drink or stopping for good, here are some other information sources that might interest them:

  • The Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services has produced a helpful list of alcohol support telephone and online services available across Victoria. These include DirectLine, the Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service, and youth drug and alcohol advice.
  • Online communities, such as Hello Sunday Morning. Their app, ‘Daybreak’, is an online program that offers people the chance to share their experiences of cutting back or giving up on alcohol with each other.
  • Mental health support services such as Beyond Blue, who provide information and resources related to alcohol, drug use and mental health.