Alcoholism–A National Treatment Plan?
folks: RT started this post a while back, and is presenting it as originally composed w/ additions.
With Christmas just a few days away, it’s time for RT to let Santa and other powers know what he wants for Christmas: a national treatment option for people suffering from alcoholism.
There can’t be much question that alcohol is America’s (and the world’s) most insidious addiction. The use of alcohol goes back so far (to prehistoric times) that it has become deeply embedded in global culture. Prohibition demonstrated the difficulties of trying to directly outlaw the use of such a familiar (and comforting, in its way) substance.
On the other hand, these facts should sober us up:
1) 35,000 people in the United States die each year from cirrhosis and other alcohol-related deaths (excluding homicide and suicide);
2) countless families are entangled in the victim’s struggle to recover, even if only emotionally;
3) many treatment programs currently in place do not offer treatment that lasts long enough for the basic habit of drinking to be broken;
4) curing an alcoholic often means restarting his or her life, addressing other (and sometimes prior) problems along the way.
RT has known several people who have struggled long and hard to recover, and RT is beginning to suspect that part of their problem is that the necessary resources for hardened drinkers simply aren’t available, which has inspired RT to do a little brainstorming. Here is RT’s take on what’s needed to turn around long-term alcoholics:
1) a 1-month stay in an initial-treatment center that provides a) detox services, b) a full physical examination; c) daily AA sessions; d) a clean bed in an individual room, e) regular meals; f) help with obtaining I.D., and the administration of a TB test; and g) contact with next of kin. Release into long-term treatment would take place upon detoxification and satisfying other long-term treatment requirements.
2) 12-18 months in a lock-down recovery facility. This is the core of the program. Treatment includes a) the use of medications to minimize withdrawal symptoms; b) continuing AA sessions; c) twice weekly one-on-one therapy sessions; d) weekly group therapy; e) a daily work routine within the facility; f) continued participation in a patient’s outside work/job, if such is possible without exposure to alcohol, and g) supervised trips to the movies and other social venues. Release occurs when the patient has been certified alcohol-free for at least one year. Upon release, any money earned by the patient would be transferred into an account available at the end of the treatment program.
3) 6-12 months of post-treatment transition in a group house. Services include: a) obtaining work and housing for the patient; b) expanding the patient’s social and support networks; c) financial and legal counseling; and, last but not least, d) help with transportation post-release.
4) follow-up interviews 6 and 12 months after release. Upon completing these interviews, the patient will be declared alcohol-free and receive a car to signal his or her return to normal society.
Wow! RT readily acknowledges that this plan looks overly optimistic and financially prohibitive. But, honestly, RT cannot think of a less expensive plan with a chance of working (at least in the majority of cases). Alcoholism sits at the center of a complex of medical, psychological, and child-rearing problems that makes any shorter term treatment look unrealistic. And what about the experience from the point of view of the patient? An atmosphere of respect and continual signs of improvement are essential to keeping participants emotionally engaged.
Needless to say, this program would be offered on a sliding-scale fee system and the patient would be legally a ward of the government while in treatment. (And RT should also note that he is not a professional; if you are dealing with these issues, please consult a professional for advice)
Why cough up the money? 1) The long-term (and not-so-long-term) benefits to the society would be incalculable; and 2) just possibly, we might be saving the life of someone we know (RT would be).
Photo: Official with a Hang-over; Dunfemline City Chambers; author: Paul Mcllroy via geograph.org.uk; WikiCmns; CC 2.0 Generic.