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Alcoholics Told Keep Drinking Due To Detox Bed Shortage

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Alcoholics Told Keep Drinking Due To Detox Bed Shortage

Wellington, NZPA - Severe alcoholics are being advised to keep drinking due to a shortage of acute detoxification beds.

A Canterbury doctor, who asked not to be named, said he had seen patients who wanted to stop drinking but could not do so safely without medical support, The Press reported.

Heavy drinkers can suffer from seizures and delirium while detoxing.

The doctor said the Kennedy Detoxification Unit at Hillmorton Hospital in Christchurch was either full or not taking emergency cases.

"If the person is suicidal or severely depressed or has other medical problems like a gastric ulcer that requires them to stop drinking, you are in a real bind."

He was told the unit did not want to use its beds for acute cases unless patients already had a treatment programme in place for after their detox.

National Addiction Centre director Professor Doug Sellman said there was a nationwide shortage of medical detoxification beds.

About 120,000 people had an alcohol-addiction problem, about 10 percent of which would need a medical detox to stop drinking, he said.

"If you can't get a place and can't get medical attention and suffer convulsions, it's best to keep drinking," he said.


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