Why harmful drinkers reject change coping & cognition in maintaining heavy drinking

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Public Health England identifies approximately 600,000 dependent drinkers as the target treatment population. However, they identify an additional 1.3 million ‘harmful’ drinkers who do not have serious dependency but are drinking at levels already causing harm to themselves. For instance, 1 in 5 hospital attendees have been identified as harmful drinkers, reflecting the contribution of heavy drinking to a wide range of health-related conditions. However, harmful drinkers are characterised by low problem recognition, or in some folk language, ‘denial’.

Here Dr James Morris present a conceptual model for understanding how and why harmful drinkers reject change via cognitive ‘coping’ responses. Here, he explores some of the ways in which interventions and policy may address some of these barriers with a few to increasing problem recognition as a key first step to change.

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