Alcohol related problems: a critical review of the literature and directions in nursing education

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


It is generally accepted that around 2–5%, of the adult population show major signs of alcoholdependence, that alcohol-related harm is experienced by up to 20% of the population, and that approximately 60% drink at risk-free levels. Further prevalence studies show that there are high numbers of problem drinkers who attend general hospital services for reasons other than their alcohol consumption. Nurses are in constant contact with patients who may have an early problem with alcohol but who are admitted for other reasons, and they are in a prime position to comprehensively assess patients (including alcohol screening), develop rapport and provide ‘counselling’. Also, university nursing education is propelling nurses toward adoption of independent discipline focused models of care which are increasingly becoming independent of the medical model. Recent trends in the management of problem drinkers suggest that controlled drinking approaches may well offer treatment options to nurses that the traditional abstinence approaches did not. This paper presents a brief overview of the notion of controlled drinking, then critically reviews the nursing research studies and the descriptive literature providing direction for nursing education. Some recent clinical initiatives are discussed which highlight the flaws existing in nursing education, including lack of sufficient curriculum hours and the need for better designed education models and strategies


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Nurse Education Today