Page last updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The Alcohol Report,
Edited by Dr Martin Plant and Douglas Cameron
Book Review by Peter Duff
"The Alcohol Report" began as an update of Martin Plant's book Drinking and Problem Drinking (1982), but it soon became clear that the goal posts had moved during the past 18 years and that a completely new work was required.

Under the joint editorship of Douglas Cameron, Senior Lecturer in Substance Abuse at Leicester University and Martin Plant, Director of the Alcohol and Health Research Centre in Edinburgh, a mass of evidence has been assembled and reviewed by a group of relevant contributors.

The Editors goals are clearly stated: "This book sets out to provide a balanced and informative review of some of the key topics likely to interest those with a serious concern with evidence about drinking patterns and levels of alcohol-related problems. Such people include medical practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, counsellors and those who work in specialist and non-specialist statutory and voluntary agencies providing help and support for those with drinking problems and their families. In addition, it is hoped that the text will be helpful to a wide range of people whose work is likely to bring them into contact with drinking and problem drinking. The latter include the police, social workers, prison staff, people working in the beverage alcohol industry and in the distribution and sale of alcohol, together with students, civil servants and politicians. In short, it is hoped that The Alcohol Report will provide an informative and balanced source of user-friendly, dependable information about some of the key issues related to alcohol."

The report is presented in nine sections and concludes with a summary and conclusion by the editors. Many of the sections are supported by graphs and statistics, "The Economic Aspects" in chapter 5 is a particularly good and concise survey of the supply and demand of beverage alcohol, and it contains a wealth of well-ordered information.

We would like to have see more up to date figures in Chapter 6 "Consequences: Patterns and Trends" to reflect the consistent fall in drinking and driving related deaths in the UK (AIM Vol.9 No.3 November/December 2000).

Similarly, the liver cirrhosis mortality ratio table is ten years old. It shows, surprisingly, that lawyers and doctors then headed the list of those most at risk. (page 136).

The chapter "Alcohol and its Effect" reviews the effect of alcohol on the body as well as drinking behaviour . It ends on a positive note. "In a final analysis, it may therefore be true to say that a little beverage alcohol does much good and is possibly better for many people than total abstention". A reference to the Department of Health's "Sensible Drinking Guidelines" (December 1995) and the parameters of 'Sensible drinking' would possibly have been appropriate in this chapter.

The book will certainly be a valuable source of information and data for all those involved in alcohol issues.

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