Can a GP refer an alcoholic to rehab? It is recognised that the most intensive form of support available to an alcoholic is offered through residential rehabilitation. It is also recognised that for most illnesses (and it is important to remember that alcohol addiction is an illness), the person most likely to offer help is the GP. However, it is important to look at the facts regarding the probability of a GP referring an alcoholic to a rehab clinic.
At Addiction Helper, we have heard of some cases where the GP has been able to provide such a referral, but these cases are extremely rare. It is important to mention here that a large percentage of GPs have not had any addiction-specific training. This can mean that either the GP does not understand how to help, or simply does not want to. This may sound harsh, but it happens.
Typically if an alcoholic goes to see their GP they will either be given a gradual reduction plan (which for someone dependent on alcohol will be nearly impossible) or they will be referred to their local drug and alcohol team. These are organisations that are funded by the government and are the ones that can provide access to a rehab programme. Unfortunately, as with any government-funded organisation, the funding is nowhere near adequate, which means there can be long waiting lists for treatment, and often the treatment will be community-based rather than residential treatment. This is why many individuals decide to fund private rehabilitation, due to the immediacy of the services.
However, for those where private treatment is not an option, the drug and alcohol teams are the only support network available. Anyone considering approaching these services needs to be aware that it is a difficult process, involving many meetings with the team. What it is important to remember, is that the government only wants to help people that want to help themselves, and so the person seeking treatment needs to show a high level of commitment to getting better. Whilst accessing alcohol rehab through the government agencies is not easy, it is not impossible, and that is what it is important to remember.