Case scenario

Frederick, 64, has type 2 diabetes and hypertension. He requests treatment for worsening reflux and mentions he has been drinking more lately. You agree that alcohol can cause and worsen reflux symptoms, and you obtain his consent to ask a few questions about his alcohol use.

Frederick tells you he drinks 2–4 cans of beer on most days and more on Friday nights. He doesn’t describe any withdrawal effects when he doesn’t drink, nor are there any red flags associated with his reflux symptoms. When you ask him how he feels about his alcohol use, he tells you it has increased more than he would like, especially during lockdown. 

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Define alcohol dependence
  • Explain the management options of alcohol dependence
  • Explain the pharmacist’s role when managing patients with alcohol dependence

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.4. 1.5, 2.2, 3.1, 3.5

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Introduction

Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by Australians, with 1 in 4 Australians aged 14 or older drinking at harmful levels at least monthly.1 More than 2%, or 1 in 50 Australians are estimated to be alcohol dependent, making alcohol dependence the most common drug problem in Australia.2 

So what is alcohol dependence? There are various classification systems and terms used to define alcohol dependence. According to the Wor

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