People who drink half a bottle of wine or more than three pints every night are being offered a life-saving pill to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume.
An estimated 600,000 NHS patients will be eligible to receive the nalmefene tablet after trials showed it cut drinking by 61 per cent over six months when used with counselling.
Experts claim the drug, which costs £3 a tablet, could save as many as 1,854 lives over five years and prevent 43,074 alcohol-related diseases and injuries by keeping drinking cravings at bay.
The pill, also known as Selincro, is administered orally once a day and is taken when people feel the urge drink.
It works by blocking the part of the brain which gives drinkers pleasure from alcohol, stopping them from wanting more than one drink.
However, the pill is aimed at reducing alcohol intake, not stopping drinking, and severe alcoholics will not be eligible to receive it.
Background: How does alcohol affect your liver and heart?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), who are recommending the drug’s use, say that nalmefene is clinically and cost effective for the NHS when used alongside psychosocial support.
10 best non-alcoholic drinks
10 best non-alcoholic drinks
1/10 Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower and Rose Pressé
For English summertime in a bottle, try this fresh flavour. Perfumed but not overwhelming, subtle notes of elderflower blend with a hint of rose petal to make a glass of guilt-free pink fizz. £2.29 for 75cl, waitrose.com
2/10 Little Miracles Orange & Lemongrass
Lemongrass tea is mixed with orange, ginger, ginseng and agave in this energising fusion of flavours. Non-sparkling, it is also available in green tea and pomegranate, white tea and cherry and black tea and peach versions. £1.59 for 330ml, hollandandbarrett.com
3/10 Shaken Udder Vanillalicious
Made with fresh British milk and real vanilla beans, this milkshake is smooth, creamy and delicious. Free from artificial colours and flavours, there is no fake sugary taste. £1.29 for 330ml, tesco.com
4/10 Unoco Raw Coconut Water
One sip of this raw coconut water will transport you to an exotic beach. It’s like sticking your straw straight into a coconut; the pure, natural flavour is worth the higher price tag, we reckon. £2.00 for 250ml, ocado.com
5/10 V8 V-Fusion Passion Fruit, Mango & Carrot
One glass of this vitamin-packed juice made with 50/50 fruit and vegetables serves as two of your ‘five a day’. The unusual addition of carrot and sweet potato adds depth to the flavour while allowing the sweet mango to dominate. £1.89 for 750ml, waitrose.com
6/10 BerryWhite Peach & Goji Berry
This still, organic fruit juice with white tea and echinacea extracts is tastier than most ‘healthy’ drinks. Sweet peach puree means that no added sugar is needed, so you can drink this one feeling virtuous. £1.69 for 330ml, ocado.com
7/10 Heartsease Farm, Raspberry Lemonade
Made on William Watkins’ family farm using British raspberry juice and their own spring water, this fizzy drink is perfect for alcohol-free parties. Serve in cocktail glasses for an elegant virgin drink. £2.29 for 750ml, ocado.com
8/10 Terrafertil Goldenberry
Many people will never have tried goldenberries, also known as physalis fruit, from the Andean foothills. High in vitamin A and mouth-wateringly refreshing, it helps keep skin supple during the summer and is great as an orange juice alternative at breakfast. £3.99 for 1l, hollandandbarrett.com
Great as a mixer with gin or vodka, or as a booze substitute on its own, this cucumber-flavoured sparkling beverage is light and thirst-quenching, with a sleek bottle classy enough to impress guests. £1.89 for 750ml, tesco.com
10/10 The Berry Company Green Tea with Aronia & Blueberry
Green tea has been celebrated as a tonic for over 4,000 years and, when you try this, you’ll understand why. Packed full of nutrients and antioxidants, it’s a 100 per cent natural, well-being boost in a carton. £1.30 for 330ml or £2.14 for 1l, goodnessdirect.co.uk
Professor Carole Longson, for Nice health technology evaluation centre, said: "Alcohol dependence is a serious issue for many people.
"Those who could be prescribed nalmefene have already taken the first big steps by visiting their doctor, engaging with support services and taking part in therapy programmes.
Under new plans, GPs would ask patients about their alcohol intake even when they visit them for unrelated health issues.
Men would qualify to receive the treatment if they consume 7.5 units of alcohol per day - around three to four pints of standard strength lager.
It would be offered to women who consume five units a day, which amounts to around half a bottle of wine.
It has already been given to patients in Scotland since October 2013. A final decision to roll out the drug on the NHS in England at a cost of £288 million a year will be taken in November.
Additional reporting by PAReuse content