Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Characteristics of Group Therapy in Clubs of Treated Alcoholics

Academic journal article Alcoholism and Psychiatry Research

Characteristics of Group Therapy in Clubs of Treated Alcoholics

Article excerpt


The medical model of alcoholism was established by Jellinek in the 1960s and in many ways it created a new dimension in approaching the problem and solving it.

Although the psychotherapeutic approach and socio-therapeutic interventions became part of the alcoholism treatment already in the early Fifties, they gained momentum in the treatment the moment alcoholism was accepted as a disease.

New information from neurobiology has enhanced the significance of psychopharmacological approach to the treatment itself.

There is a wide circle of measures taken and people who deal with counselling and treating alcohol addiction. This circle encompasses primary care activities, general hospital's first aid, psychiatric services, specialized services and institutions assigned to the treatment, as well as non-institutionalized organized society groups that in Croatia act as Clubs of treated alcoholics (CTA) while in the world they are spread as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

In 1 964 professor Vladimir Hudolin, M. D., Ph. D., established a complete and complex socio-medical approach in the treatment of alcohol addiction in Croatia. He organized a Centre for fighting and studying alcoholism at the Department of Psychiatry of the today's hospital »Sestre milosrdnice«. The Centre contains all the important elements of successful treatment of alcoholism: organized individual group psychotherapies, sociotherapies, family approach to the treatment, medicament treatment by taking disulfiram after detoxification, and going to the system of treatment in Clubs of treated alcoholics where further rehabilitation is performed.

The clubs are designed as family communities with at most twelve included families . The families are part of the treatment with the goal of changing the style of life, so that every single member, as well as the whole family system, could develop and mature. People and families in the clubs differ in sex, age, education, profession, attitude towards drinking and the style of life. They all have in common difficulties caused by alcohol. Their decision to be treated is based on the fact that alcoholics cannot control their drinking anymore, so the abstinence, which the alcoholic and his or her family begin with, is the basis and the beginning of comprehensive changes. These clubs are actually the place where alcoholics and their families start their rehabilitation and re-socialization. Since this is a long-lasting and continuous process, the alcoholic and his or her family practically go to CTA without time limitations.

A therapist and a person qualified for the field of alcoholism and family approach in the treatment of disorders caused by alcohol work in the clubs. During its thirty- yearactivity in the field of alcoholism, the Department of Psychiatry has organized special educational programmes that lasted from one to six months and has trained and educated hundreds of employees to work in the clubs. They are people of different professions, from psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, to special- educati on teachers. But also former alcoholics with years-long abstinence, motivated to help alcoholics and their families, have undergone the training and education. The circle of employees has expanded and supervision is part of the clubs. The supervision is performed by professionals with long experience in the clubs who are specialized in the field of alcoholism.

There are around 1 80 clubs in Croatia. They are distributed all around the country but the majority is in Zagreb (around 80 of them).


In this paper we would like to show the importance of rehabilitation in the Clubs, to evaluate the process of maturing, abstinence and changing the family system. In order for the rehabilitation process to be successful certain programme parameters need to be satisfied. They are the precondition for a successful, programme realization, for example: regular family attendance of the clubs, their availability and structure (therapists, abstinents' help in improving the quality of life). …

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