An array of treatment is offered by the health service to alcoholics: pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and counselling. Treatments which were only available at Brown Sequard Hospital have now been decentralised, including a detox centre at Flacq Hospital.
Psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors are put at their disposal in all hospitals to take care of them. Afterwards, they are taken care of by NGOs which support them and rehabilitate them.
At Brown Séquard Hospital two wards are reserved for alcoholics in need of detoxification. In 2009, it admitted 2,200 patients for alcohol treatment, that is, more than 50% of the patients admitted to the hospital.
In other hospitals, complications due to alcohol such as gastritis and hepatitis are also increasing. In 2010, 6,884 people were admitted due to complications of alcohol drinking.
Alcoholics are often stigmatised in society and women alcoholics further, says Anabelle Beeharry from Etoile d’Espérance.
“Alcoholic women are often judged and condemned by her surroundings and this hinders her treatment. People should understand that these persons are in despair and they need help. There is no use of adding to that by stigmatising them. On the contrary, we should offer them a helping hand,” she insists.
Étoile d’Espérance is an NGO founded in 1997 which supports women alcoholics, especially during their rehabilitation. The centre offers three services: Day care from 9am to 3pm, residential and aftercare. This allows their rehabilitation within their family and society after their treatment. Women who work can also go there for counselling sessions.
Situated at Moka, it offers free services. A counsellor from the NGO is available every day at Brown Sequard Hospital from 9am to noon and is also accessible on 433 4229.
According to Dr Gujadhur, women being financially more independent can more easily have access to alcohol. Women, he says, look for some consolation in alcohol when they are victims of infidelity of their husbands. “What is worrying is the fact that, contrary to men, women prefer drinking alone. Moreover, they run a higher risk of dependency on alcohol than men due to their physical constitution,” he explains.
Alcoholism causes other health problems: high blood pressure, heart problems (heart disorder), liver cirrhosis, liver cancer, inflammation of the intestine, diabetes, Fœtal Alcohol Syndrome in pregnant women where the baby runs greater risks of malformations. Dr Gujadhur warns people suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes against the risk of complications due to alcohol abuse.
Police can be sollicited by relatives of an alcoholic if the latter shows signs of aggressiveness,” underlines Dr Gujadhur. “If an alcoholic becomes violent, he represents a threat to others and in such cases, we have to call the police to bring him by force to hospital for a detoxification session.” As for alcoholics found lying on the road, the doctor stresses that passers-by should bring him to the hospital.
“We should not forget that alcoholism is first and foremost a disease which requires treatment. Hence, we should keep our judgment to ourselves and restrain from condemning them,” he insists.
The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing everything as far as medical treatment and support to alcoholics is concerned. The hospitalisation protocol of these persons will also be reviewed, says Dr Gujadhur.