Belgium is a rather unique country of nearly 11 million people loosely divided into three distinct communities: Flemish, French and German. Interestingly enough, alcohol rehab in Belgium is affected by this demographic arrangement. Demographics aside, rehab is available through both public and private services operating as both outpatient and inpatient clinics.
If you are in need of alcohol or drug rehab in Belgium, we recommend you read through this post in its entirety. Feel free to contact Addiction Helper if you have questions or require assistance locating a rehab clinic for yourself. We are fully committed to helping those struggling with alcohol find the kinds of professional treatments that will help them get well. We can help you with free advice, assessments, and referrals.
How Is Alcohol Rehab in Belgium Provided?
Though Belgium is a rather small country by comparison to the UK, it has a very developed system for treating substance abusers and addicts. Alcohol rehab is provided in one of two ways based on individual need. The first model is known as ‘low-threshold’ care. It combines limited medical intervention with social reintegration services and psychosocial therapies. It can include additional healthcare services when necessary, such as scenarios in which a dual diagnosis is involved.
The second model for alcohol rehab is more comprehensive in nature. It is residential treatment that covers everything from detox to community reintegration. The depth of this treatment is discussed later in this guide. For now, though, it is important to discuss who provides care and how patients access it.
Low-threshold treatment for alcohol can be accessed by way of private organisations and support groups, but it is mainly offered through the public sector. Treatments are outpatient treatments conducted by specialists based in hospitals, specialised day clinics, and what are known in Belgium as social care centres. Treatment is accessed by way of counselling services, social services, and limited medical care.
Residential treatment for alcohol can be accessed by way of both public and private organisations. The lion’s share of residential treatment is provided by private rehab clinics or specialised hospital units that accept patients on referrals from their doctors. Patients choosing private treatment are generally responsible for paying for it through health insurance or out-of-pocket. However, the Belgian government is currently exploring the use of a voucher system for certain kinds of residential rehab.
In closing this section, it is important to note that while alcohol rehab clinics are widely available throughout the Flemish and French communities, they are virtually non-existent in the German community in the East Cantons region bordering Germany. There is no official explanation for this arrangement, but it exists nonetheless.
How Comprehensive Is Drug Rehab in Belgium?
The depth of residential rehab in Belgium is rather impressive. To begin with, addiction specialists and medical clinicians alike are fully committed to treating addiction holistically. This is the main reason there is such a wide distinction between low-threshold and residential treatment. The Belgian mindset is one that recognises patients requiring residential treatment need to be treated holistically rather than focusing only on the physical side of addiction.
Residential patients begin their treatment with medically supervised detox. Private clinics administer detox in the same facilities while public treatment programmes utilise detox programmes at hospitals or crisis intervention centres before moving patients into their residential therapies.
Completion of detox signals the start of rehab therapies that the Belgian system divides into three categories: stabilisation, motivation, and reintegration. Stabilisation therapies are aimed at helping addicts understand their own addictive behaviours and why they act and react the way they do.
Motivational therapies play off stabilisation therapies by helping patients find the motivation to avoid relapse. Therapies include strategies for learning the coping skills that will be critical once a patient leaves rehab. Successful motivational therapy leads to the final stage of reintegration.
It is interesting to note that reintegration begins in the residential setting but is then carried into aftercare once formal treatment has ended. Make no mistake about it; the Belgian system places a heavy emphasis on aftercare as the final step of holistic treatment. In other words, aftercare is not viewed as a separate entity. It is a part of the holistic approach equal to physical detox and psychological therapy.
Aftercare and Rehab in Belgium
Since aftercare is considered an equal part of holistic rehab, patients leaving residential treatment do not always return home straight away. Many of them go to halfway houses where they can learn additional skills and receive specialised training. For example, a halfway house may work with a local employment rehabilitation centre to teach clients critical job skills prior to returning home. They help patients find jobs so that when they do return home, they are ready to be productive members of their local communities.
Aftercare programmes may be provided by the same private clinics where patients accessed their primary care, or by third-party organisations and clinics contracting with those private organisations. There are some government-run day clinics that offer aftercare and reintegration services as a follow-up to private, residential treatment.
For patients seeking follow-up assistance from a local support group, there are several groups to choose from. Local support groups are self-organising and usually based on language. Participants speaking Dutch would seek out a Flemish group, French speakers would seek out a French-speaking group, and so on. There are a limited number of English-speaking support groups as well.
Belgium is known throughout Europe for the quality of its healthcare system. Healthcare services, including addiction treatment, are paid for through a combination of government contributions and compulsory health insurance. Residents hoping to enrol in residential rehab usually do not have to pay much out-of-pocket as a result. Those travelling to Belgium from outside the country will have to consult their own private health insurance plans to find out if it is covered.
At Addiction Helper, our primary mission is to work with those in need of alcohol rehab by connecting them with outpatient and residential clinics. If you are struggling with alcohol yourself, or you know of a family member or loved one who needs help, we invite you to contact us through our 24-hour helpline or our website. Our counsellors are standing by to assist you in any way they can – whether this is to locate a rehab in Belgium, one here in the UK, or elsewhere across Europe.