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Alcohol dependence in public policy: towards its (re)inclusion

Laura Williamson, Glasgow Caledonian University

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Originally published in: Clinical Ethics (2009), 4 (2), pp.74-78. Available online from publisher's website: Copyright The Royal Society of Medicine Press, reproduced in accordance with publisher copyright policy.


Public policy on alcohol in the UK relies on health promotion campaigns that encourage individuals who misuse alcohol to make healthier choices about their drinking. Individuals with alcohol-dependence syndrome have an impaired capacity to choose health. As a result, individuals with the worst alcohol misuse problems lie largely outside the reach of choice-based policy. However, such policy has been widely criticized and efforts to reform it are underway. This paper argues that the British Medical Association's recent attempt to improve policy on alcohol in the UK by introducing strategies which have been shown to control drinking within populations still gives insufficient attention to alcohol dependence. This is because it fails accurately and consistently to characterize alcohol dependence and gives insufficient attention to the social challenges it presents.

Suggested Citation

Laura Williamson. "Alcohol dependence in public policy: towards its (re)inclusion" Clinical Ethics 4.2 (2009): 74-78.

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