Goals of Treatment

Negotiating goals of treatment has already been discussed (Chapter 4) recognizing that abstinence is not the only option. Indeed, many patients are not ready to engage in treatment that sets a goal of abstinence but may accept the need to reduce drinking. Recent research has confirmed that substantial reductions in drinking may be associated with sustained clinical improvements. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defined four drinking risk levels (very-high-, high-, moderate-, and low-risk) and clinical benefit has been associated with reduction of at least two risk levels reaching low-risk drinking or moderate-risk for those who were initially drinking at very-high-risk levels. 

TABLE 23.1: WHO drinking risk levels

Risk level Consumption (G/Day)
  Male Female
Very - high-risk 101+ 61+
High-risk 61 - 100 41 - 60
Moderate-risk 41 - 60 21 - 40
Low-risk* 0 - 40 0 - 20

*Australian consumption guidelines 2020 recommend 10 drinks (100g) per week to maintain low risk drinking for both males and females and no more than 4 drinks (40g) on any one day.