Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Importance of the Club of Treated Alcoholics

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Importance of the Club of Treated Alcoholics

Article excerpt

A club of treated alcoholics (CTA) is a multifamily association organized on the principle of self and mutual help of its members acting continuously with the aim of changing the way of life, and achieving growth and maturation of the alcoholics treated. From the legal point of view CTA in Croatia is an unprofitable association comprising of:

- treated alcoholics after finishing their hospital treatment,

- persons having problem with alcohol that were not hospitalized up to now,

- members of their immediate families,

- friends and experts.

In the club, the family procedure is practised together with the instructions about alcoholism. The family members take part in the years long process of modification of behaviour and the establishment of a new, more successful and more suitable way of life, without alcohol. Alcohologic school of Zagreb, established by the Department of Psychiatry, Alcoholism and other Dependences, with Vladimir Hudolin at its head, had the leading role in fighting and solving alcohol-linked problems and alcoholism not only in Croatia, but also in other countries.

The first club of treated alcoholics has been founded in 1964. in Zagreb and since then, to the middle 80-ies their number progressively increased up to more than 600. The important contribution to the development of clubs in this period was the shift from the hospital to the outhospital programs of treatment.1,2

In the early days of clubs of treated alcoholics, the expectations consisted of abstinence up to one year. Further development and experience showed that the abstinence might last for years, sometimes even for a lifetime. It strives to change the behavior and lifestyle in community, what becomes the main purpose of work and rehabilitation through clubs, while the pure abstinence is now just a condition without which it is not possible to achieve that aim.

The end of 80-ies brought the first signs of socioeconomic and social turmoil and in the beginning of 90-ies, the war began in the area of former Yugoslavia. Therefore many clubs stopped working and the activity of others fell much bellow the earlier level, especially in the areas close to the war operations. Nearly 80% of clubs stopped working and the rest survived only due to the enthusiasm of few experts, as well as of the treated alcoholics. The professional and financial support of social environement failed because of its engagement in more important, was related problems like war victims and refugees. Besides, many club members were forced to exile or died in war.

During the Croatian War of Independence, in the occupied third of Croatia, the clubs stopped working, while in another third near the frontline, their activity was reduced to minimum (10% of their former activity) and in the west third, far from the frontline, the number of clubs was cut in half. Numerous war sufferers and exiles became the priority of social services which stopped to occupy themselves with alcoholism. On the other side, because of the massive sufferings, general impoverishment, hopelessness and a loss of sense of living, the alcohol consumption increased as well as the individual and social complications of alcoholism.

Inspite of all this, several clubs, mainly in the capital Zagreb and its environment continued to work. Thanks to the efforts of experts and of treated alcoholics many clubs were renewed so today there are 180 clubs in Croatia, 80 of them in Zagreb. The Department of Psychiatry, Sestre milosrdnice University Hospital, lead by Thaller, gave a remarkable contribution in the revival of club activities.

By means of organizing the education workships for qualified and less qualified club participants, national and international congresses about alcoholism, supervising the clubs' activities and inciting the social sensibility for alcohol-induced problems, the Clinic has given a crucial impulse to the post-war revival of intensity and quality of club acitivities. …

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