AH10 Employ techniques to help individuals to adopt sensible drinking behaviour


This standard is about working with individuals to help them recognise drinking behaviour that may be risky or harmful to health and wellbeing. It also involves providing support and guidance to help them cut down drinking (brief intervention). It addresses identifying who may be appropriate to receive brief interventions that help people reduce the harm or risk to their health caused by excessive drinking.

This standard is for a wide range of people in health, justice and social care services who may come into contact with people drinking above medically recommended levels or experiencing difficulties relating to their alcohol use. Such staff will not be alcohol specialists, but will be involved with providing advice or support across a range of issues. This will include staff working with adults, children and young people, for example those working in the areas of Health, Social care, Justice, Housing and Employment.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. how alcohol, as a drug, affects the body and mind, how this can affect behaviour
  2. the characteristics of dependence
  3. legal implications of alcohol use in specific circumstances, including road traffic legislation and issues around consent while intoxicated
  4. the risks alcohol can present to an individual’s health and wellbeing, including:
    1. the immediate risks that can arise from being drunk
    2. the potential health and social risks associated with longer term risky drinking
  5. the unit system of measuring alcohol content and what constitutes safe, hazardous, harmful and dependent drinking as defined by the World Health Organisation
  6. the changes which can be made to drinking behaviour to improve health, wellbeing and personal safety
  7. the extent and limit of your own role and expertise in relation to alcohol interventions
  8. the relevant national, local, professional, and organisational requirements relating to equal opportunities, discrimination, health and safety, security, confidentiality, and data protection
  9. how to administer and interpret results from an appropriate screening tool (AUDIT or AUDIT-derivative)
  10. the principles of active listening, and how to apply them
  11. how to present and explore options with different individuals
  12. how to present information and advice fully, accurately, concisely and in ways appropriate to people’s needs
  13. how the cultural background of the individual can affect the working relationship
  14. the cycle of change model and how to help individuals make and review decisions and establish priorities.
  15. how to identify how alcohol might contribute to current risk situations
  16. the importance of brief interventions to enable individuals who do not need specialised treatment to change their drinking behaviour
  17. the services available to treat individuals with alcohol problems

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. create an environment suitable for frank, confidential discussion
  2. explain why you have an interest in the individual’s drinking
  3. initiate discussions about risky drinking behaviour and respond to individuals who express concern about their drinking levels
  4. identify, using recognised screening tools or techniques, individuals who:
    1. are drinking at risky levels and may respond to brief advice
    2. are dependent drinkers or drinkers with complex problems who need referral for specialist help
  5. collect and record information about an individual’s drinking behaviour
  6. provide accurate information and feedback about the risks associated with current alcohol use
  7. provide a menu of alternative strategies for changing drinking behaviour, including specialist help for those with established alcohol dependence and/or serious alcohol related problems
  8. support the individual in:
    1. setting drinking goals
    2. identifying and overcoming barriers to changing their drinking behaviour
  9. check the individual’s understanding of the impact of their drinking behaviour and whether they want to change this behaviour
  10. provide relevant supplementary information leaflets or resources and signpost local specialist services if the individual wishes to seek further help
  11. arrange for a follow-up appointment to review drinking behaviour (when appropriate)
  12. keep an accurate record of your intervention and the information and advice you gave

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to address health and wellbeing needs
AH10 Employ techniques to help individuals to adopt sensible drinking behaviour
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk