Treatment options

Treatment options

Germany offers a nationwide system for addiction aid. Self-help groups, specialized advice centres and inpatient institutions work hand in hand to provide the best possible treatment. Each addict can select the most suitable treatment from several different modules.

Self-help groups
The self-help groups are the initial point of contact for many addicts. Here they can obtain valuable tips on different forms of therapy. Participants in the groups tell how they managed to overcome their addiction and support each other in coping with everyday problems. Every participant can decide for him-/herself how much he is willing to discuss during the meeting. Participation is free of charge. In total there are about 8,700 self-help groups for addicts, with some 120,000 people attending annually. With the group’s help, three-quarters of group members with an addiction manage to live abstinent permanently. About a third of those who take part in self-help groups manage to overcome their addiction without any in- or outpatient therapy.

Specialised information centres
All employees in the centres are sworn to secrecy. Help in finding a way to overcome addiction is given by therapists on a one-to-one basis; they will also assist in filing applications for in- or outpatient treatment.
Many of the 1,300 specialised centres offer their own rehabilitation programmes. These normally last between a year and 18 months and are composed of either one-to-one or group discussions once or twice a week. Many people seeking help choose this form of outpatient treatment so that they can remain in familiar surroundings and their problem will not be noticed at work. The costs are borne by the state pension system, the medical insurances or social welfare office.

Hospitalised/in-patient treatment
Abstinence can often be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms which, in the worst case, can sometimes be life-threatening. For this reason, so-called detoxification should always be carried out under medical supervision, preferably in one of the specialized detox centres attached to a hospital. The treatment in hospital lasts from four to ten days. Some 7,500 beds are available in clinics for detoxification.
After detox, specialized clinics offer in-patient treatment, lasting from six to 16 weeks. Intensive discussions probe the real cause for the patient’s addictive behaviour. In general these clinics are based outside areas of high population. Patients who have the feeling that they cannot cope with everyday stress tend to prefer this form of treatment. Far away from everyday problems, the clinic offers a protective framework. The state pension scheme, medical insurances or social welfare office will also bear the costs for this type of treatment. Approximately 16,000 beds are available in total for people with addiction to alcohol, medication or illegal drugs.