Alcoholics sometimes ask to be treated by hypnosis and this has been employed by a few physicians. The basis of the method is to suggest to the alcoholic either that he does not enjoy drinking or else that drink makes him sick. Such suggestions, however, do not prove to be lasting and there can be few if any alcoholics who have been permanently helped by treatment which depends principally on this approach.
THE PROPER COURSE OF ACTION
Now that we have reviewed the types of treatment that are available or should be, we can see how an alcoholic may take stock of his position once he has realized that he is addicted and that he needs help to recover. What steps can he take ? He can contact the local branch of AA or go to his doctor and state his problem bluntly. Nor should he be satisfied until he is receiving expert care. He should expect a general hospital to undertake all the treatment of his physical complications and to accept him as a patient during the drying-out’ process when he first stops drinking and withdrawal symptoms occur. He should expect the psychiatrist who becomes responsible for his subsequent hospital management to design a programme to suit the requirements of his case. This should offer during the period of in-patient care a positive approach to alcoholism, in which the skills of psychiatrist, psychiatric social worker and nursing staff are each deployed. It is of the greatest importance that every alcoholic should be enabled to learn the facts about alcoholism as an illness.
During the subsequent out-patient treatment the same personnel will consolidate his treatment gains. They will help him further to achieve the personal integration that will enable him to lead his life profitably without further recourse to alcohol. If he should suffer a relapse he is entitled to expect that the medical staff concerned will not give him up but will rally to his support with a renewed offer of their resources.
If he does not find all this, he is not getting the treatment his illness deserves.