Hospital program battles addiction

Published 11:26 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

CMC staff members observe Substance Abuse Recovery Month throughout September.

As part of Substance Abuse Recovery Month, Chilton Medical Center is spreading awareness about drug and alcohol addiction and how people can get help for themselves or loved ones.

The month of September also marks the one-year anniversary of the hospital’s Alcohol and Drug Detoxification program, which provides education, counseling and a starting point on the road to recovery for addicts.

“It’s not as easy for some people to stop taking drugs. Some people are more prone to addiction than others,” said Judy Dean, the program’s director.

What CMC offers is an inpatient medical detox program — not a treatment program, Dean explained. Patients are admitted on a volunteer basis, and up to 10 patients may be admitted under normal circumstances. A medical screening is also required prior to admittance.

Program participants stay in a hospital room for an average of four days, depending on each individual’s needs. When they are first admitted, visitations and phone calls may be limited. These privileges are increased based on the person’s progress, Dean said.

“We don’t have lockdown or anything like that,” she explained. “The same doctors that see our other patients see these people. It’s all done here.”

Videos about alcoholism and drug abuse are shown, and one-on-one counseling is given. Hospital staff members also work to educate family members about how addiction affects the brain. From this perspective, addiction is approached as a disease.

Dean said some addicts experience the loss of health, relationships or their job before they recognize their problem. She emphasized that the detox program should be seen as a starting point.

“We counsel them to help them understand that this is just the beginning,” she said. “When they leave here, they’re ready to go to a drug or alcohol treatment facility or they can go to an outpatient counseling program. We also encourage them to go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.”

Another local program, Al-Anon, meets on Mondays at 7 p.m. and may be reached at (205) 294-2400.

Dean said the hospital is welcoming tours, calls and free private consultations throughout the month of September. For more information, call 755-2500.