Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

RCSI supports Boots Ireland to assist patients through Alcohol Detox

24 June 2015

Boots Ireland and RCSI announce research collaboration aimed at enhancing Boots Alcohol Detox Service to offer patients treatment in their community

RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) has announced that it is collaborating Boots Ireland in the ongoing development of the new Boots Alcohol Detox Service, the first alcohol detox programme available in pharmacies. The new service follows a pilot which involved pharmacists working with a multi-disciplinary team to support patients who are prescribed medication for detoxification. RCSI will manage an ongoing review of the Boots service which is aimed at advancing efforts to support patients in the community and offer an accessible avenue of treatment.

Pictured (l-r) is Prof Paul Gallagher, Head of the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Susan O'Dwyer, Pharmacist, Boots Ireland
In Ireland, there are 88 deaths every month which are directly attributable to alcohol (1). A recent Global Drug Survey found that Ireland has the highest percentage of people who needed emergency medical treatment after drinking alcohol in the last year (2) while a 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that Ireland ranks among the most prolific drinkers in the world (3).

The Boots Alcohol Detox Service will support patients through their first steps without alcohol and is only available to patients who've been referred to a Boots Pharmacy by an authorised doctor operating to the protocol developed in conjunction with Dr Hugh Gallagher of the One Step Clinic, a specialist addiction clinic. A patient using the service will need to visit the Boots Pharmacist each day, and during each visit, the pharmacist will assess their symptoms and provide medication to start them on the path to remaining alcohol-free.

The service is currently available in a limited number of pharmacy stores with a national roll-out expected in the coming months along with continued advances of the service through RCSI recommendations following robust research. RCSI, in conjunction with Boots Ireland, will be sponsoring a Boots Pharmacist to conduct a Masters in Research who will analyse the Boots Alcohol Detox Service in order to support the ongoing advancement and development of the service. The service is one element of a wider programme under development to enhance the accessibility of detox services in a community setting to offer choice and convenience for patients in an environment that works for them.

Susan O'Dwyer, Pharmacist, Boots Ireland stated: "This RCSI and Boots Ireland partnership will enhance the development of the Boots Alcohol Detox Service within a community setting which offers those affected by alcohol the support they need for their treatment and management of alcohol dependence. We know it's not easy for people to access treatment, resources are limited and costs can be prohibitive. The Boots Alcohol Detox Service offers an additional, easily accessible, evidence based support service option for patients to get the support they need."

Dr Hugh Gallagher, an addiction specialist and Medical Director of One Step Clinic said: "Alcohol abuse can have serious mental and physical health implications such as increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, certain cancers, depression and can also shorten the lives of those affected. It is encouraging to see organisations such as Boots Ireland and RCSI coming together to not only raise awareness of alcohol abuse but also contribute to the treatment options available to patients."

Professor Paul Gallagher, Head of School of Pharmacy, RCSI added: "We are delighted to partner with Boots Ireland in the important area of alcohol detox. Alcohol dependence and abuse is a major public health concern in Ireland which requires innovative approaches to address the burden. Through partnerships such as this we will offer those affected by alcohol the necessary support they require in a community setting. The results of the RCSI study will allow Boots Ireland to continue to enhance this service representing a significant development in detoxification treatment in Ireland."

RCSI is among the top 50 most international universities in the world (Times Higher Education University World Rankings, 2014-15). It is a not-for-profit health sciences institution focused on education and research to drive positive change in all areas of human health worldwide. RCSI is headquartered in Dublin and is a recognised College of the National University of Ireland. In 2010, RCSI was granted independent degree awarding status by the State, which enables the College to award degrees alongside its traditional powers to award licentiates.


1. Alcohol Action Ireland, Overview of alcohol related harm. Available at: Accessed: June 2015

2. Global Drug Survey 2015. Findings. Available at: Accessed: June 2015

3. Global status report on alcohol and health 2014. World Health Organization. Available at: Accessed: June 2015