Korean J Fam Pract.  2021 Feb;11(1):14-21. 10.21215/kjfp.2021.11.1.14.

Korean Alcohol Guidelines for Primary Care Physician

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea
  • 2Public Health and Medical Services Office, Chungnam National University Hospital, Daejeon, Korea


Patients with drinking problems are commonly encountered by primary care physicians in clinical practice. This paper presents the care guidelines for dealing with such patients. The guidelines have been summarized below. Drinking problems can lead to common health problems; hence, it is necessary for primary physicians to develop their screening, treatment, and counseling capacity. All patients visiting the primary care clinics are recommended to undergo screening actively for drinking problems. Screening for drinking problems utilizes three questions (frequency, amount, and maximum amount) to determine if the patient is at risk. For Koreans, moderate drinking is defined as ≤8 drinks/week (1 drink=14 g alcohol) for men aged up to 65 years and ≤4 drinks/week for those aged >65 years; the limit for women is half of that defined for men. In particular, it is recommended that people with facial flushing reaction should maintain their alcohol consumption level at half of that of non-flushers. In order to treat patients with drinking problems effectively, the focus should be on their environment, particularly when using the family-oriented approach. It is recommended to determine the need for drug treatment depending on the patient’s symptoms, and follow-ups should be performed at appropriate periods. The use of anti-craving medications is recommended (e.g., naltrexone, acamprosate, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). In order to counsel the patients effectively, the use of the “FRAMES’ Motivational Enhancement Interview” and “Insight Enhancement Counseling” is suggested.


Korean; Drinking; Guidelines; Primary Care
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