Thirty years of experience in Alcoholism treatment
In 1997, Alcoholism national prevalence was estimated at 7%, while in Portalegre district was 8%. Research has shown that hazardous alcohol use and alcohol-related issues are more prevalent in remote locations, such as some rural areas in Portalegre. To respond to this matter, Portalegre Psychiatric Department has developed the Unity of Treatment and Recovery of Alcoholics (UTRA), whose goal is to help patients achieving and maintaining alcohol abstinence. This presentation aims to introduce UTRA’s work over the last thirty years and inspire other psychiatric departments to develop similar programs. It also aims to promote the discussion about what has to be done in order to improve current projects and enable them in overtaking new challenges, like the ones brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. To interview UTRA’s founder and main collaborators who maintain active roles in UTRA’s therapeutic program.
UTRA’s first step consists of 6 biweekly psychoeducative group sessions lead by a mental health nurse. Its further steps are directed by a psychotherapist and a mental health nurse. They consist of 9 monthly psychotherapeutic group sessions, followed by 4 quarterly group sessions and 2 semestral group sessions. Its last session consists of a yearly meeting. Psychiatric appointments keep taking place at every step of the process, especially at the early stages, performing careful medical and psychiatric screening for each patient and guaranteeing a safe detox program, which may need to occur in inpatient service.
For the last thirty years, UTRA has helped hundreds of people dealing with Alcohol Dependence. In the last two years, people were more isolated and had less access to medical appointments, which may have contributed to new cases of Alcoholism and delayed enrolments in UTRA. Action needs to be taken in order to earlier recognize new patients and refer them to UTRA as soon as possible.