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What is a good treatment outcome?
Breakout session highlight, Anne Lingford-Hughes
Ian Gilmore: What does good treatment look like? In the best hands, what would be success? What percentage of success would you achieve in the first treatment?
Anne Lingford-Hughes: In a first episode?
Ian Gilmore: In somebody who presents for the first time with alcohol dependence for help, what would ‘good’ look like in terms of outcome?
Anne Lingford-Hughes: In terms of a percentage, you couldn’t put it on an individual but the rule of thumb that we raised in the session was that about 50 per cent would be drinking again at three months. I use that clinically because often, when you get people past that stage, then the rate of relapse after that gradually reduces. To me, the three months is quite a good guide and I would use that as an idea to benchmark perhaps your practice or your service. However, clearly seeing somebody as I used to do, on a liver transplant waiting list, their motivation and their need to be abstinent has no wriggle-room – they need to be abstinent, whereas in other people you can probably tolerate a little more drinking.
The key is to be individually tailored. Success for one individual may not look like success for another. You might want to look more holistically at their environment, their relationships, their home life and their work. You may tolerate a little drinking in one person which you would not in another. The message for me is, what is success? Well, that is often down to the individual and your relationship with them.
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