Home > Domestic abuse and change resistant drinkers: preventing and reducing the harm. Learning lessons from domestic homicide reviews.

Ward, Mike and Holly, Jennifer and Allwright, Lucy and Booker, Lauren and Holmes, Mark and Pierce, Mike (2016) Domestic abuse and change resistant drinkers: preventing and reducing the harm. Learning lessons from domestic homicide reviews. London: Alcohol Concern and Against Violence and Abuse.

PDF (Domestic abuse and change resistant drinkers: preventing and reducing the harm)

This guidance builds on three recent developments:

  • The introduction of domestic homicide reviews

Since 2011, local authorities have had to undertake a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) after a homicide in which someone aged 16 or over has died as a result of violence, abuse or neglect from someone to whom they are related, have been in an intimate personal relationship with or are a member of the same household. These reviews aim to identify lessons to be learnt from the death.

These reviews reveal both the role of problem drinking and the challenge of managing it in the context of domestic violence. They offer a level of detail that was previously unavailable, so that we can now see what has happened in tragedy after tragedy and perceive patterns that can guide future interventions. This information has been the bedrock of this project and we quote the DHRs extensively throughout.

  • Alcohol Concern’s Blue Light project

This guide is also rooted in Alcohol Concern’s Blue Light project. The perception exists that if a problem drinker does not want to change, nothing can be done. This is not true. The Blue Light project is Alcohol Concern’s national initiative to develop alternative approaches and care pathways for change resistant drinkers who place a burden on public services. It has shown that there are positive strategies that can be used with this client group.


The project developed:

  • Tools for understanding why clients may not engage
  • Risk assessment tools which are appropriate for drinkers
  • Harm reduction techniques workers can use
  • Advice on crucial nutritional approaches which can reduce alcohol related harm
  • Questions to help non-clinicians identify potential serious health problems and deliver enhanced personalised education
  • Management frameworks
  • Guidance on legal frameworks 

The Blue Light manual, which sets out all these tools, is available at: www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2015/01/Alcohol-Concern-Blue-Light-Project-Manual.pdf

  • The Stella Project’s Complicated Matters resources

The Stella project is the country’s leading initiative addressing domestic violence, substance use and mental ill health. As a part of a three year project looking specifically at the needs of domestic violence survivors who are affected by substance use and/or mental ill-health, the Stella Project produced a toolkit and e-learning programme for supporting survivors who experience these interconnected issues.


The toolkit is available at: http://avaproject.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Complicated-Matters-Atoolkit-addressing-domestic-and-sexual-violence-substance-use-and-mental-ill-health.pdf.

There is also a free elearning available at: http://elearning.avaproject.org.uk/

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