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Waiting for change presents a comprehensive and disturbing picture of the barriers alcohol dependent drinkers face when trying to access treatment services. It includes accounts from alcohol treatment service users about the difficulties in getting the treatment that they need and portrays the devastating effects these delays can have on them. Alcohol is a significant problem in the United Kingdom. Over three million, or one in 13, people are dependent on alcohol – at least six times as many as the highest official estimate of people dependent on class A drugs (Godfrey et al 2002). Waiting for change shows that almost six out of every ten dependent drinkers who have sought help from alcohol services experience significant obstacles in accessing a range of treatments.

Alcohol Treatment


Alcohol treatment services play a major role in helping dependent drinkers to control their drinking and to rebuild their lives. However, lengthy waiting times further isolate already vulnerable drinkers, preventing them from accessing vital treatment. Respondents in this report have revealed that waiting times and delays necessitate that dependent drinkers continue to drink alcohol, forcing many into more problematic, and potentially lifethreatening, behaviour. Dependant Drinkers are also discouraged from seeking help in the knowledge that waiting lists are long. Consistently long waiting lists have been shown to erode confidence in service provision, preventing many from seeking treatment and raising further barriers to treatment.

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