Self-help systems in czech addictology


Self-help Groups and Initiatives in the Czech Republic

Publisher: Mgr. Lenka Šťastná Ph.D. | Last update: 22.01.2014

The earliest existing reference to self-help activities in the historical territory of the Czech Republic dates back to the first two decades of the second half of the 19th century, in the Hradec Kralove region. Also of great interest are the discoveries of several noteworthy publications and papers of the leading figures of the political and social life at the beginning of the 20th century, as early as before the beginning of World War I (including involvement of the later President of Czechoslovakia, Tomas G. Masaryk), supporting the self-help activities and openly expressing their sympathies with such activity, as well as appealing to their moral and ethical dimension.

Historically, due to the events of February 1948, the context of the post-war development of self-help groups operating in the then Czechoslovakia naturally differs from that experienced in the neighbouring countries such as Austria, Germany or Poland. Partly because of the specific circumstances under the communist regime, the general framework for the operation of self-help groups was different, although the above mentioned deep-rooted tradition of self-help groups has played its part in the differences. The totalitarian regime found alcohol use to be something which was “difficult to accept”. The issue of alcohol dependency was, however, more or less recognised due to the epidemiological situation and this made it possible for the original model of “quasi-self-help” groups lead by – or rather supported by – addiction treatment professionals to emerge. Cooperation with these groups was tolerated and later even purposefully, systemically supported. It is also interesting to note that for instance the KLUS (Klub lidí usilujících o abstinenci – People Striving for Abstinence Club) activity was established even a couple of months earlier (on 5 February 1948 to be accurate) than the oldest specialised unit for the treatment of addictions, “U Apolináře”, just in the turbulent year of 1948. The situation in the prevention and treatment of illicit drug use was much worse, as no drug problem officially existed. After the fall of the communist regime, such interventions had to start virtually from scratch. Similarly, this was also the case with self-help activities. Until then, self-help for drug users was nearly illegal and viewed almost as an activity aimed against the regime; it gained the basis for its further development in the 1990s. Nevertheless, current treatment programmes in the Czech Republic are still governed by the expert model to a greater extent and the influence of self-help principles has been less apparent.

Reference List

Gabrhelík, R., Miovský, M. (2011). History of Self-help and 'Quasi-Self-Help' Groups in the Czech Republic: Development and Current Situation in the Institutional Context of Drug Services. [Reprinted from Gabrhelik, R., Miovsky, M. (2009). History of Self-help and 'Quasi-Self-Help' Groups in the Czech Republic: Development and Current Situation in the Institutional Context of Drug Services. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, (4)137–158.] Adiktologie, 11(2), 100–112.

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