Budapest Telegraph

Specialist says drive to entirely eradicate alcoholism is hopeless

Monday Jul 13, 2015

editor | Source: MR1 - Kossuth Rádió

“Hungarian society is very far from realizing the full danger of alcoholism. We, Hungarians have numerous individual and nationwide mechanisms for mitigating the risks and harms of alcoholism. Hungary is doing very poorly in terms of the diseases and mortality related to alcoholism. Actually, we are among the worst in the world in this field,” Zsolt Demetrovics, Hungary's premier addiction specialist warns.

Zsolt Demetrovics, PhD, is dean of the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology of ELTE University, Budapest, and President of the Hungarian Association on Addictions.

Q: How can society handle this incurable disease?

A: Hungary should implement a complex strategy of intervention. In Hungary it should be realized that drug addiction and alcoholism are problems that we cannot solve fully. There is no other way but to accept that position. This is a question of moral attitude.

A considerable part of the addicts just cannot be made fully clean. That said, there is room for a lot of other things that can be done.



It must be realized that – even if addiction cannot be fully eradicated – the problem can be reduced both on an individual and on a social scale. Realizing that is often difficult even for addiction specialists. Often they measure the efficacy of their treatment of an alcoholic by weighing if the alcoholic has fully given up drinking alcohol. That is not the right approach.

In all other diseases the public is ready to accept that reduction of symptoms is a success. Medicine just cannot entirely cure a considerable part of the diseases.

Let me stress: addiction is a chronic disease, full of relapses – a chronic ailment where it is extremely rare to have a bee line from disease to full recovery.

Let us face it: even reducing the harm is a great accomplishment! Harm reduction should be incorporated into the regular Hungarian health service on a much wider scale and with much more efficiency than so far. Hungary is not performing in this field too well. And that is due to [an inappropriate] moral attitude.”

This text is an excerpt of an interview that covered drug addiction and alcoholism. It was broadcast as part of a popular science program at 2.32 p.m. on July 4, 2015. It can be heard in Hungarian here.

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