Local Health Offices of the Health Service Executive (HSE) provide alcohol addiction services, funded through the Department of Health. There are also a number of private programmes, which offer help to those trying to combat the effects of alcohol addiction.
Alcohol addiction can be treated in a residential or non-residential setting. It will depend on your circumstances and your own personal preferences. Most people are treated in the community in non-residential settings. Some of the treatment options available are as follows:
If you have a mental illness and alcoholism you can access your local mental health services and they will also support you to access addiction services. Depending on your treatment needs, you may be referred back to your GP for continuous care.
Addiction counsellors provide assessment, counselling, information and treatment services. Before receiving counselling you must go through a detoxification programme, if necessary. You are then referred to the community-based addiction treatment service. An individual and group counselling approach is commonly used.
As well as addiction counselling, community care services may run other alcohol-related courses. Family therapy, couples therapy, and groups for concerned persons will address the issues that problem drinking can bring up in these particular relationships.
Detoxification removes the physical craving for alcohol that is a symptom of alcohol addiction. Detoxification can take place on an out-patient basis under the supervision of a GP. A reducing dose of a strong anti-anxiety drug, will be prescribed to ease the effects of alcohol withdrawal. Detoxification does not deal with the psychological issues that cause a person to abuse alcohol. For a successful outcome, people usually have to go through counselling to understand their addiction and change their behaviour patterns. Your GP can talk to you about a suitable detoxification programme.
Use of prescribed drugs to treat alcohol addiction
In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help them in the initial stages of treatment. The use of drugs to treat addiction is called pharmocotherapy and most of the commonly used drugs will be covered by the Drugs Payment Scheme.
Residential treatment takes the client away from their usual environment and all sources of alcohol. Patients are weaned off their dependence on alcohol and begin a therapy programme, Age limits can vary depending on the programme. Some programmes are designed to deal with people as young as 15, while others may only accept over 18s. Programmes will generally have a small number of participants The costs of residential programmes vary. Depending on the programmes, the costs may be covered by a medical card. To find out if there is a charge, you should contact the treatment centre directly. If you don’t have a medical card you can request approval for funding from your Local Health Office. The Manager of Community Services will make a decision on your request.
Group meetings for those affected by alcohol abuse
Group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous are run independently of the HSE, although meetings may take place on HSE premises. There are other groups that provide support to those affected by someone's problem drinking. Privately run groups are generally free of charge.
Private treatment services
There are a number of private treatment services for alcohol addiction. The services they provide are very similar to those provided by the HSE. You will have a choice of residential treatment or treatment as an out-patient. Private treatment programmes are not free of charge and prices will vary depending on the programme. These costs may be covered by private health insurance.
Alcohol addiction services that are run by your Local Health Office of the HSE are public services and all out-patient services are free of charge. There may be a charge for residential programmes. Private health insurance or a medical card may cover stays in selected drug treatment centres. For more details, you should contact your health insurer.
You can check with your pharmacy whether medication you are prescribed to treat symptoms of alcohol addiction qualifies under the Drugs Payment Scheme.
Your Local Health Office can help you find alcohol addiction services in your area. Your GP can also refer you to your local addiction services. There you will be assessed and your treatment options will be explained to you.
Private treatment programmes vary in their admission requirements, so you may need to contact them directly to find out what you need to do. If you need advice, your GP should also be able to help you. You can also contact professional bodies to find out more information about addiction counsellors in your area.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.