Alcohol rehab in Norway is a mixed bag of sorts. A combination of cultural influences and limited government involvement has resulted in a system in which alcoholism is not treated as in-depth as some other addictions, nor are doctors as likely to get involved in alcohol treatment. However, this is not to say that alcohol rehab is completely unavailable. Quite the opposite is true.

The first thing to note about alcohol and drug rehab in Norway is that it is not designed to pay any special attention to alcohol or illicit drugs. Rehab is seen as more of a broad philosophy of treating all sorts of substance abuse and mental health issues in the same kind of environment. As such, seeking alcohol treatment in Norway is a bit more challenging than elsewhere in Europe.

For this reason, we encourage people to contact Addiction Helper before attempting the locate a treatment programme in Norway. There are numerous options to choose from, but you have to know where to look and what to expect. Choosing the right treatment programme also requires an understanding of Norway’s multi-tiered system.

How Is Alcohol Rehab in Norway Structured?

Due to their cultural understanding of rehab, the Norwegian system takes a less direct approach toward helping people suffering with alcohol problems. In order to understand culture differences, let’s start with the British system. We consider alcoholism a medical condition that requires both physical detox and psychotherapeutic treatments to address the mental and emotional aspects of addiction. Our philosophy is very clear-cut and easily delineated. The Norwegian system is different.

There they have a multi-tiered system in which treatment is divided into four separate categories. The first is outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment includes a physical and psychological assessment, limited counselling, and strong encouragement to seek out a 12-step fellowship. It is important to note that the Norwegian system views participation in a 12-step fellowship as self-help.

A person being referred to treatment under this first-tier would actually receive very little by way of intervention from medical professionals or social service workers. It is essentially a situation in which the alcoholic is diagnosed and then encouraged to go to a local support group for help.

The second category is detox. This is pretty straightforward. Alcoholics referred to detox go through a 5-to-7-day treatment that separates them from drinking. Once detox is complete, the newly sober patient is expected to remain sober through some sort of self-help means.

The third and fourth categories are more long-term and are both inpatient as well. The shorter of the two covers rehab programmes lasting fewer than six months; anything six months or longer is considered long-term inpatient care. Both the third and fourth tiers are intended for individuals who need the most comprehensive care. They undergo detox, stabilisation and assessment therapies, and long-term psychosocial therapies.

Is Long-Term Rehab in Norway Easy to Get Into?

The ease by which an alcoholic would access long-term residential treatment really depends on who he or she is working with. Unfortunately, while the majority of doctors in Norway are familiar with both 12-step fellowships and private clinics, statistics show a startling reluctance among them to recommend either to patients. Doctors tend to recommend one of the first two categories of treatment almost exclusively.

On a positive note, alcoholics are not required to access treatment through their GPs. They can go directly to a private rehab clinic to make arrangements for their own enrolment. As such, organisations like ours can recommend private rehab in Norway without having to go through government channels.

You should also be aware that outpatient treatment is considered low-threshold. In other words, seeking rehab through one of the first two categories of treatment means receiving treatment that is less involved when compared to private treatment. Patients may attend fewer counselling sessions, fewer 12-step fellowship meetings, etc. They will definitely have less access to medical treatment beyond their initial GP evaluations.

Family Drug Rehab in Norway

The Norwegian system does place a heavy emphasis on following up with families. In other words, while patients themselves are generally expected to make maximum use of self-help opportunities, it is well understood that families may have a more difficult time receiving the help they need.

Since 2011, the government has issued guidance as to how local municipalities can follow up with families of patients. Even schools have been involved in the mission. Families can receive separate counselling along with other support services where necessary.

Follow-up for patients themselves is another matter entirely. Where some European countries offer very strong aftercare programmes following formal treatment, Norway is lacking in this area as well. Once again, it comes down to the idea of self-help. Patients are expected to avail themselves of 12-step group membership and one-on-one counselling after treatment is complete.

Accessing Rehab in Norway

The underlying philosophy of addiction and rehab under the Norwegian system is one of conflicting standards. On the one hand, the government takes a very public stand against substance abuse and addiction. On the other hand, the government also has a monopoly on alcohol sales it uses to its own advantage. The mixed signals this presents makes the whole rehab issue a lot more difficult to navigate.

The best piece of advice we can offer residents and those looking to travel to Norway for rehab is to contact a referral organisation like ours first. Referral organisations make it their mission to compile information about local and national treatment options for those in need. They will know how to access rehab in the way that is most suitable to the patient.

Alcoholism is a big problem in Norway. Cultural influences related to it unfortunately hinder the development of rehab programmes. But rehab is available if patients know where to look. If you need help, please reach out to Addiction Helper as soon as you can. We have the information and resources you need to connect to a treatment facility. We can even offer you a referral based on a comprehensive assessment of your situation.