Home > Family and individual experiences of self detoxification processes in the mid west.

Van Hout, Marie Claire and Bingham, Tim (2012) Family and individual experiences of self detoxification processes in the mid west. Limerick: Mid West Regional Drugs Task Force.

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An effective treatment system for drug and alcohol dependence requires the availability of detoxification to individuals, in the context of provision of managed withdrawal (Gowing et al., 2000a;b). Detoxification, in the context of drug and alcohol treatment has been defined as follows; “a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. Supervised detoxification may prevent potentially life-threatening complications that might appear if the patient was left untreated.” (Centre for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), 2006:4).

Research highlights the presence of individual strategies and attempts to achieve abstinence, which include self-detoxification attempts without formal medical assistance and/or with the help of drugs and/or alcohol. Detoxification and the achievement of abstinence is possible without formal treatment and is often preferred with community based supports from local General Practitioners, family and other users. The need for an increase in community and residential detoxification services in Ireland has been articulated at national and local level. Several Community Detox protocols and initiatives have been developed in Ireland.

There is a dearth of research on individual and family experiences of the self-detoxification process. Irish research conducted by McDonnell and Van Hout with a sample of opiate dependents observed that family members are often involved in the sourcing of information on treatment options, assisting in treatment access and uptake, user advocacy and the provision of remedial supports whilst detoxifying within the family home. There is a need for further research into the area of family experiences of self-detoxification, so as to inform the development of local and regional community detoxification supports and interagency protocols.

Indeed, research has emphasised how the current base of treatment provision must diversify to include the family and the home setting as “legitimate unit for intervention’. Therefore, the aim of the research was to describe family and individual participants’ experiences of self-detoxification processes both within the home and hostel settings using a phenomenologic approach.

The phenomenological approach aimed to describe and garner rich understanding of social and psychological phenomena as experienced by the participants themselves and derived from their perspectives around individual, child or partner experiences of self detoxification.

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