Expectations of alcohol treatment among alcohol dependent individuals

Through a self-empowering approach to recovery, those in alcohol treatment can learn about alcohol addiction and how to cope with cravings. It is important to implement a client-friendly approach to recovery because this will maintain the clients’ interest in treatment. Understanding what the client hopes to gain from treatment may be a key indicator of what to emphasize on during treatment. The interests of men and women during treatment may be different where women like to focus on self-esteem issues and men find that a less important aspect of their recovery. Through the use of a self-empowering approach to alcohol treatment, individualized treatment plans can be created for men and women that emphasize on specific areas of interest they would like to enhance. Tools and techniques will be learned for clients to use when they get urges to drink.

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In Germany, approximately 1.7 million individuals are alcohol dependent. Previous research suggests that approximately one-third of all individuals in drug and alcohol treatment relapse within 3 months after treatment. In Germany, alcohol rehab is covered by insurance, and long-term inpatient alcohol rehab is common. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy are both common in alcohol treatment programs in German hospitals. Researchers at Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, set out to study the wishes and expectations of alcohol dependent patients in regard to their alcohol treatment (Schneider et. al., 2004).

The researchers recruited 227 alcohol dependent patients from 3 different alcohol treatment programs in Germany. Participants completed a 20-item questionnaire on their aspirations for treatment outcome as well as a 23-item questionnaire about their expectations for elements of treatment. Participants included 47 women and 180 men. Of the participants, 141 individuals were undergoing inpatient detoxification; 26 were undergoing inpatient motivational enhancement therapy; and 60 were in outpatient programs.

The results showed that men and women saw equal importance for some components of therapy, such as a life without alcohol and individual sessions during treatment. Women found “strengthening self-esteem” and “an environment of tranquility and security” to be more important components of alcohol treatment, compared to men. These differences in expectations between men and women suggest that a gender-based approach to alcohol treatment may increase patient satisfaction and decrease drop-out rates.

“Economic pressures in healthcare demand that treatment planning involves selection and matching,” the authors point out. “But few studies concern the aspirations and expectations of patients concerning their treatment, despite the importance of focusing on individual needs, a patient-friendly approach, and raising patients’ interest in the variety of treatments possible, all of which might eventually help to reduce treatment drop-out.

“Although most patients already possessed prior experience of therapies and rehabilitation programs, discussing addiction to alcohol and learning how to deal with relapses was of great interest to both men and women. Female alcoholics tended to exhibit a greater interest in obtaining as much information as possible in order to critically view their problem and to counteract the risk of relapses. They also seemed to be in greatest danger of suffering from relapses when the prevailing mood was loneliness and melancholy.”

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Schneider U, Kroemer-Olbrisch T, Wedegartner F, Cimander KF, Wetterling T. Wishes and expectations of alcohol patients concerning their therapy. Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2004; 39(2): 141-145.