Public policy on alcohol in the United Kingdom: towards a safety net for the alcohol-dependent

Laura Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


Public policy on alcohol in the United Kingdom fails to support, and may even undermine, the wellbeing of those with the worst alcohol misuse problems, the alcohol-dependent. This is partly because it evades the thorny issue of impaired control that characterises dependence. In addition, until recently, all United Kingdom alcohol policy focused on improving individualised treatment for the dependent, rather than attending to the wider social and environmental factors that influence the condition. The efforts of policy to normalise "sensible" drinking, while stigmatising drunkenness, also risk exacerbating the social vulnerability of the alcohol-dependent. The article examines these issues and concludes by pointing to a number of developments that are required to help ensure that the dependent do not continue to fall through policy that claims to be inclusive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)386-399
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • public policy
  • alcohol dependency


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