Wales’ launches first national action plan to support and treat alcohol-related brain damage

Wales news
19 November 2021

Alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) is an umbrella term that is used to describe a spectrum of conditions characterised by chronic cognitive impairment due to changes in the structure and function of the brain attributed to excessive alcohol consumption over time.

This week marks alcohol awareness week and the aim of the new framework is to raise awareness of how ARBD can affect people and the support they need.

The framework has been developed with the support of Public Health Wales and leading experts in the field.

Dr Raman Sakhuja, Consultant Psychiatrist at Cwm Taf University Health Board and Dr Julia Lewis, Consultant Psychiatrist at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board co-authored the framework alongside colleagues in University of South Wales, Cardiff University and Public Health Wales.

The framework is designed for health and social care providers to give guidance on how they should respond to those affected by alcohol-related damage. It also focuses on how wider parts of the community can support those with ARBD. Key to this will be awareness and training in support of the new framework.

The long-term aim of the framework will look to establish dedicated ARBD services within each health board which will have access to a range of services including psychologists and occupational therapists. The support of social care and third sector organisation is also vital in the care of individuals who have ARBD, in order to provide those who need it with good accommodation and wider community support.

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle said:

"Supporting those with an alcohol-related brain damage is something that needs involvement from a wide range of organisations. We want to raise awareness across communities and organisations to ensure people have access to services  and are treated in a timely manner. The framework provides guidance and a joined up approach for all those involved in helping those with ARBD. I would like to thank Public Health Wales and the many experts in the field for their input into this piece of work."

It’s important that we also raise awareness of the harms alcohol can have on individuals and their families and for them to recognise support is available if needed.

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse in Public Health Wales, said:

"We very much welcome the publication of the Treatment Framework for Alcohol-Related Brain Damage in Wales. We know that this condition has to date been under-diagnosed in the UK, is non-degenerative if the patient is able to stop drinking alcohol and, with the appropriate support, the majority of individuals can achieve some degree of recovery. In addition, and with the right preventative and early engagement initiatives, fewer individuals and their families may be affected. This guidance represents a comprehensive and innovative pathways to achieve these outcomes."

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