An addiction treatment program in Melbourne’s north-west could be the first in the country to offer a drug treatment program that aims to prevent the disease and encourage sobriety in the long-term.
Key points:Drug treatment centres have been established in other parts of Australia for the past several yearsThe ABC spoke to one of them about the potential of the drug treatment programme in Melbourne, and its effectiveness in preventing alcoholism and other chronic health problemsDr James Cottrell from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Centre of Victoria said it was important to recognise that alcohol is a drug and the drug use that people do is part of the disease.
“We need to take into account that the use of alcohol is not a choice.
It is a fact of life,” he said.”
So we need to recognise how harmful it is and we need not only to stop it, but also to control it.”
The idea of the treatment program is to reduce that risk of alcohol abuse in the future and also to prevent people from abusing alcohol in the first place.
“Dr Cottrel said that, in the past few years, alcohol use in the community had dropped in Victoria, but had not been eliminated.”
Over the past year, the numbers of alcohol-related hospital admissions in Victoria have been declining, but we haven’t really seen that drop in the rest of the country.
“A lot of the problems that we see with alcohol abuse are also happening in the workplace.
People have been drinking at work and then having alcohol and not getting out of it.”
Dr Peter Ragan, from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, said the drug-treatment centres were being rolled out in different parts of Victoria.
“Some of them are in rural areas, some are in remote locations, and some are also in regional areas,” he told the ABC.
“But they’re all taking place in the same city.”
They’re all being rolled in to Victoria to the north of Melbourne and the south of Melbourne.
“In some cases, we’re even looking at places like Western Australia where we have drug treatment centres, which are being rolled up across the country.”
Dr Ragan said the centres were “very similar to residential treatment centres”, which are used to help people in their twenties and thirties who are struggling to get out of alcohol.
“These are all very similar in their approach, but there’s a difference in the level of commitment and the level in terms of quality of care that they’re providing,” he added.
Dr Cotrell said the treatment centre’s goal was to provide alcohol-free treatment to people who are “unable to go to their GP for alcohol treatment”.
“We want to provide that for people who really are in need,” he explained.
“It’s an area where there’s so much evidence that alcohol can cause long-lasting damage to your health and wellbeing.”
Dr Gail Kelly, who is an assistant professor of pharmacology at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, agreed that the centre was being set up to address a major problem.
“There’s a lot of alcohol in our society,” she said.”[But] I think what we’re really looking for is to find a way of providing that alcohol-resistance and that recovery and that mental health that people need.”
Dr Kelly said she believed the centre would be able to provide some support to people on a “low-alcohol” basis.
“When you have a person who’s on the low-alcohol medication, it’s a bit like having a very small glass of wine, you can sip it in moderation and enjoy it, and if you’re drunk, you’re going to have a very negative reaction to that, and you’re likely to have some sort of problems with other people,” she explained.”[It’s] not as dangerous as drinking alcohol, but it’s still a risk to the person that’s using the drug, so it’s not necessarily an effective treatment.”
Dr Terry Gwynne from the National Alcohol and Drug Research Centre said there was a lot to like about the approach being taken by the centre, which was focused on reducing the harm caused by alcohol.
He said the idea of drug treatment was “absolutely” an effective approach, and that it would have “a significant impact” on preventing alcohol misuse and addiction.
“I think it will have a profound impact in reducing the number of people who use alcohol, and it will reduce the level at which they get intoxicated, which in turn will reduce their risk of developing any chronic health issues,” he stressed.
Dr Gwynnes said it would also provide a “sustainable solution” for the region’s “drinking problem”.
“It’ll give us the opportunity to address the real issue of the community,” he concluded.
“What we’re trying to do is, for example, to create a new, safe, supervised environment for people to use alcohol and to