Understanding Alcohol Dependence

For many people in the UK drinking alcohol has become socially acceptable. However, it’s important to be aware of the harm alcohol can cause both physically and psychologically.





Alcohol misuse is a global problem and is the third leading cause of disability in Europe.

The NHS estimates that in the UK around 9% of men and 4% of women show signs of alcohol dependence.

Each year alcohol related problems cost the UK economy around £21 billion.

  • £3.5 billion of this is estimated to be NHS costs.

Regularly drinking alcohol over the recommended limit increases the risk of sixty diseases.

  • These include cancers of the breast, stomach, liver, mouth and throat, as well as heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease and mental health problems.

What is Alcohol Dependence?

A pattern of routinely drinking excessive amounts of alcohol over a long period of time, and giving priority to drinking over other activities.

You may relate to the following examples:

  • Getting into a pattern of having a few pints after work to relax during the week.
  • Couples may feel the need to share a bottle of wine with dinner more often than not.
  • Feeling the need to be drunk at party before socialising to reduce feelings of anxiety.

 Familiar faces who have struggled with alcohol:


Warning signs of alcohol dependence include:

  1. Preoccupation with where the next drink is coming from: planning social, family and work events around alcohol.
  2. Having a need to drink and finding it hard to stop.
  3. Suffering from withdrawal symptoms which stop after drinking alcohol: sweating, shaking and nausea.


What are the causes of alcohol dependence?

There are usually several different factors.

These may include stressful life events such a losing a job or a bereavement. A family’s attitudes to alcohol and social environment can also play a part, as can as genes.


How to get help:

A good place to start is visiting a GP. Doctors can make referrals to a local community alcohol service or discuss the use of medication.

It is important to remember that if a person is alcohol dependent it is dangerous to stop drinking immediately, it is vital to seek support and gradually stop drinking.


Sources of support:

There are national/ local support groups and counselling options for those wishing to reduce their alcohol intake as well as online recourses.

Alcohol Research UK       http://alcoholresearchuk.org/

Alcohol Concern               https://www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/

NHS website                      http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/Pages/Introduction.aspx



There is also a range of apps and online calculators which can help people monitor the number units they consume.

For example:                     http://wessexahsn.org.uk/WebApp/


Read about the ADAM trial here


Making the ADAM Trial 2 minute video

Over the past few weeks we’ve been working on a video about the ADAM study to enter into the NIHR New Media Competition.  We’ve been busy drawing storyboards, making props and filming the video in time for the deadline of 31st March.

NIHR have asked researchers to create videos which promote awareness of their research and also highlight the use of Patient and Public Involvement in developing studies.  We jumped at the chance to be creative and most importantly to show how much we have involved service users in the ADAM trial.  Service users have helped us decide on the intervention content such as the type and style of support provided.

We started with a storyboard, planning each “shot” of the video and the story we wanted to tell:

Storyboard image

We drew our plan out on a large whiteboard and then worked together to create a clear story.  It was a real challenge to communicate all our points in the 2-minute timeframe but we got there in the end.

After exploring different ways of doing the video such as using software available online; we decided to do the majority of the video using a whiteboard, enlisting the researchers to tell the ADAM story through a single shot only using various props.

The ADAM researchers (sadly minus Kate who was missed!) spent two days at the beginning of March completing the production of the video.

ADAM letter image             Personal Achievement Award image

We spent Day 1 finalising the storyboard (chopping out parts that made it last longer than 2 minutes), and the script.  The second day was spent using our arts and crafts skills to create the props and images we needed for the video:

props image

We devised the script as a team, after much rehearsal we were ready to start audio recording on day 2.

Finally, the team completed filming, using only a few props and a whiteboard to create the images and “shots” we needed.We are excited to share the finished product with you all.

Check out the ADAM trial video here and let us know your thoughts!

ADAM Newsletter- March 2016

Easter Newsletter

Introduction to Lloyds Pharmacy Clinical Contact Centre Pharmacists  

The ADAM team would like to introduce the telephone support pharmacists who will deliver the advice, information and support to patients in the intervention groups. Pictured below, the team, based in the clinical contact centre (CCC) consists of Sukhvinder Sandhu, CCC Manager, Ikhlaq Hussain and Radu Juverdeanu; CCC Pharmacists.

Sukhvinder: “I joined the team in January and work closely with KCL to support the clinical trial; I believe this a valuable opportunity to highlight how community pharmacists can make a significant contribution to clinical trials. I am enthusiastic to utilise this platform to make an active impact to the ADAM study.”

Radu: “I started working with the CCC in November 2015 as a healthcare professional. The ADAM study is an excellent chance to observe the impact of community pharmacists on adherence and medicine optimisation. I’m excited and proud to be part of this extraordinary project.”

Ikhlaq: “The words excited and privileged only begin to describe how I feel about this unique opportunity!! For me, healthcare research is of paramount importance to help influence change, prove or improve healthcare practices; in turn contributing to patient’s quality of life and stimulating socioeconomic development.” 

CCC team


Training and development

Sign-up now for the

Improving Healthcare through Clinical Research MOOC

Find out how medical treatments are discovered, tested and evaluated, to improve healthcare for all, on this free online course.


Community Pharmacy Training Update

Our researchers have been busy visiting all forty-seven community pharmacies across the UK. For many of the pharmacies this is the first time they are taking part in research. We are pleased with the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the pharmacy teams. In the Yorkshire & Humber site our researcher Rachel has been travelling far and wide to deliver the training across the patch. Pictured below is a successful event she hosted for Grimsby and Immingham pharmacies.

All London, Birmingham, Southampton and Yorkshire & Humber visits are now complete.


Trial Update

We are excited to be working with over twenty-five alcohol services across the five sites. We expect to start recruiting in April 2016!


Wishing everyone a Happy Easter!

Congratulations to all our community pharmacy teams that have completed the training! We are pleased to have you all on the ADAM team!

LPs training completed





ADAM Newsletter- December 2015

Trial Launch

The trial will go live in January 2016!


ADAM study

Adam team

The ADAM study is a national trial exploring how service users could be supported to take the medication acamprosate by pharmacists. There is good evidence for the effectiveness of acamprosate for preventing relapse to dependent drinking. Despite this, adherence to this medication is low and therefore the positive benefit that could be gained from taking it is not reached in all patients. The unique aspect of this study is that it will involve pharmacists who will be trained to support patients to take acamprosate as prescribed. This study is led by Professor Colin Drummond, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience; King’s College London, is funded by The National Institute for Health Research and is listed as a National Portfolio study.

Training and development

· · ·

Register your interest now for the Addictions MOOC

Understanding Drugs and Addiction massive open online course (MOOC) starts on the 7th March 2016. This free course explores how addictions develop, looking at the environmental, genetic and individual risks, best practice in treatment and policy, future directions in addiction science. Over 34,000 people have enrolled in this course over the past two years.   Register your interest now here!




Telephone Support Pharmacist’s Training Complete


Christmas Update


In November we delivered the two-day training for the telephone support pharmacists on the medication management (MM) intervention and contingency management (CM). MM is a brief discussion that involves receiving information, advice and support about alcohol and acamprosate over the phone. CM is a voucher incentive the participants receive for engaging in the telephone intervention.

Over the two days the pharmacists role-played different scenarios with actors and practiced advanced communication and interpersonal skills. The training also encouraged reflective practice and an empathetic approach to delivering the intervention.  The pharmacists have been trained to support the patients in developing strategies to manage their medication, including understanding how acamprosate works, adhering to the dosage, managing side-effects and education about their medication and alcohol dependence.
Although intensive the feedback from the training has been extremely positive. The ADAM team will continue to support and advise the telephone support pharmacists through the project.

Sites Update

The research team has been busy visiting the community pharmacies that are taking part across London and Birmingham this term. All London community pharmacy visits are complete! The visits have been very positive with many pharmacists expressing an interest in alcohol dependency research. Visits for Hull and Southampton will start in the New Year.

We are pleased to welcome our telephone support pharmacists Ikhlaq Hussain and Radu Juverdeanu to the ADAM team!