Alcoholism is a dangerous condition and intensive treatment is often the best and sometimes the only way to help the person with the drinking problem. A person can be addicted to alcohol or can be an abusive drinker – someone who abuses their mind and body through excessive drinking.
Alcohol in most countries is a legal product. There are age restrictions of course but almost all adults are free to purchase alcohol and to consume it as they please in private. Public drunkenness is an offence but drinking in private is not.
The figures are frightening regarding the deaths, sickness and days lost at work due to excessive alcohol consumption. It is a social and economic blot on society. The only good thing which can be said is that there are many facilities both large and small set up to help those with a drinking problem. Many nursing homes and hospitals contain a facility which offers residential treatment for those with an alcohol problem.
Treatment for alcohol abuse is arguably best served by residential programs. Here the resident is given 24 hour care with accommodation, meals, training and education programs all as part of the treatment. The resident is away from their home and the temptations to drink freely. Specialist staff members are on hand to assist with all aspects of their new life without alcohol.
The most popular model of residential treatment programs involves what is known as the therapeutic community where the drinkers are treated individually but have various sessions together thus sharing problems and solutions.
One of the most popular residential treatment programs covers the process known as the 12 step approach. This means the heavy drinker resides in the hospital area set aside for the activity. The stay can range from between 3 and 6 weeks with a follow-up program in the patient’s home after their stay in hospital. Some of the residents are first timers but others are former residents who have suffered a relapse in their abusive drinking.
The follow-up activities are most important. Patients are encouraged to join a self-help group which deals specifically with the problems faced by abusive drinkers once they complete their residential treatment.
Every abusive drinker is unique and while there are standard tests and procedures to help all such residents, a unique program of treatment applies to each individual. The problem of abusive drinking will be worse for some residents than for others. This will mean a longer stay in the treatment center for some. The damage to the mind and body can vary according to the length of time of abusive drinking and the overall health and age of the resident.
Residential treatment centers have an outstanding success record in what is a notoriously difficult area of health care. Alcohol is legal, relatively inexpensive and freely available. The opportunities for relapse with an abusive drinker are many. This makes the role of the professionals in treating abusive drinkers vitally important and why funding from both public and private sources is so important.
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