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February 1972

A Therapeutic Revolving Door

Author Affiliations

From the Austin Detoxification Unit, Austin Unit, Boston State Hospital, and the Tufts Community Mental Health Center, Boston.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(2):179-182. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750200083017

The replacement of the "drunk tank" by the "detoxification center" as society's response to long-term alcoholism raises the question of whether these centers may not become new "revolving doors" for the alcoholic where his symptoms are treated while his illness is ignored. A two-year experience with such a unit suggests that this need not be the case. A follow-up of the first 100 patients admitted to such a center for detoxification revealed that 43 were readmitted one or more times, that 41 maintained contact with the unit during sober intervals, and that 16 achieved extended sobriety. Through an open readmission policy the unit and its staff establish a developing therapeutic relationship which extends beyond the periods of drinking and helps the patient confront and begin to deal with his severe alcoholism problem.