Alcohol Use Disorders (147) How can we define and measure alcohol use disorders? (8)

19 March, 2024

Eduardo wrote: "I agree that different countries have different definitions regarding the unit of alcohol and the amount of alcohol in different drinks. That is part of the problem. Isn't it time for a global discussion on this matter (and others)? Something similar to the WHO- FCTC. [Framework Convention on Tobacco Control] Probably very difficult, but it could be tried."

This issue was presumably explored and debated in the WHO Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022-2030 (which curiously seems to be available only as a pre-print).

Among the agreed actions for the WHO Secretariat: Action 6: Review, update and disseminate WHO nomenclature and definitions of alcohol-related terms, particularly in the area of alcohol policy and monitoring.

The WHO Global Alcohol Action Plan states: 'In the International Classification of Diseases, 11th revision (ICD-11) (Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019), the “hazardous alcohol use” is defined as a “pattern of alcohol use that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the user or to others to an extent that warrants attention and advice from health professionals”.' It does not mention the DSM definition. The term 'alcohol use disorders' is mentioned once and not defined.

One of the many unanswered questions from our discussion is how WHO's number of 280 million people with alcohol use disorders was calculated.

Best wishes, Neil

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: