The iris Network is a pioneer in the management of alcohol withdrawal and has extended its expertise to various forms of addiction and dependency.
Problems of addiction often result in emergency situations in which the hospital plays a key role. But they also require patient assessment and follow-up, so that the addiction itself can be treated and not simply its consequences. For many years, iris Network psychiatric services have been renowned for their treatment of addiction. In the 1970s, the Network was a pioneering force in the treatment of alcohol addiction and has gradually extended its expertise to other forms of addiction, from tobacco to opiates and from cannabis to cyberdependence and gambling addiction. Today, through its many in-patient, partial in-patient and out-patient programmes, the Network is able to provide care, that is unique in this field.
Every year, the alcohol dependency unit at Brugmann Hospital carries out some 400 alcohol detoxification treatments. For around fifteen years, a smaller unit has been treating patients with drug addiction problems. Two hundred people are admitted there each year. The unit’s key strengths are that it offers medical assessment in cases, where several substances are often involved and where there are also psychological and physical problems to be taken into consideration. Such assessments are not only essential for the patient but for the whole of the Network too, as drug addiction gives rise to many and diverse health problems. Once more at the forefront of innovation, the iris Network was also one of the first to carry out opiate detoxification under anaesthesia, a technique that now forms part of the therapeutic arsenal of drug addiction.
Iris Network expertise in tobacco addiction is also well known, with programmes that focus on motivation and smoking cessation, based on four to five-day hospital day care treatment, available in all our hospitals. In 2003, the iris Network also opened the first Cannabis Clinic; this now receives many individuals who believe their consumption to be problematic or on the way to becoming so. Always keen to keep abreast of social change, the iris Network was also one of the first organisations to offer specific treatment of cyberdependence.
The targeted care, we provide, allows us to guide patients who require help and has led to our Network playing a key role in the treatment of increasingly diverse forms of addiction. In this respect, we also pay special attention to the role of patients’ friends and relatives and to the problems they too face, because of their loved one’s addiction. We also recommend additional support outside the hospital, for example via support groups. Our Network is also involved in many research activities which, on a daily basis, feed back into our clinical practice. In Belgium, and in Europe too, the iris Network is a leading force in the treatment of addiction.
Self-help Gambling Clinic
Gambling addiction is also a key concern of the iris Network. Our Dostoevsky Gambling Clinic recently produced an online help programme. This self-help programme is available free of charge to those seeking information and/or help. Through a questionnaire and online motivation exercises, it offers individuals the opportunity to assess their relationship with gambling, their behaviour towards it and the control that they have or lack over this behaviour. This online assistance can, where appropriate, lead to requests for professional help.