Founded in 1998, The Alexander Clinic is an internationally renowned facility in Aberdeen that has 23 dedicated residential bed spaces for adult men and woman suffering from alcohol and drug addiction. We provide clinical detoxification, pabrinex injections, primary and secondary care treatment as well as aftercare and family support services. The clinic also provides residential care for people suffering from low threshold mental health problems such as stress and anxiety as well as co-existing conditions such eating disorders, gambling and sex addiction.
Our highly experienced team of clinicians and therapists deliver bespoke programmes of intensive therapeutic activities focused on achieving and sustaining abstinence from alcoholism and drug addiction. We utilise a 12-step approach with behavioural healthcare and recovery management interventions, to address the physical, psychological and social aspects of addiction.
Personally, I have worked in the addictions field for more than 20 years as a front line practitioner, particularity within integrated treatment systems, as a service manager and latterly as the national development director the for the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider.
I am now the co-owner of the Alexander clinic where the majority of clients presenting with increasingly complex alcohol use disorders (AUD), which is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in mental or physical health problems.
How Pabrinex can Help Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol-Related Brain Damage (ARBD), or alcohol-related brain injury (ARBI), is an umbrella term for the damage that can be happen to the brain as a result of long-term heavy drinking. Over time, drinking too much alcohol can change the way the brain works, and its physical shape and structure. This can bring some very serious consequences, including changes in personality, as well problems with thinking, mood, memory and learning.
The human brain is a complex organ, and alcohol can affect it in many ways. Because of this there are a number of different types of ARBD that show themselves in different ways:
• Alcohol-Related Dementia: The symptoms of this are similar to Alzheimer ’s disease
• Alcohol Amnesic Syndrome: This involves short-term memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confabulation (filling gaps in memories with irrelevant or inaccurate information)
• Wernicke-Korsakoff’s Syndrome (WKS): One the most serious types of ARBD, this is made up of a brain swelling known as Wernicke ’s encephalopathy, and a severe confusion known as Korsakoff’s Psychosis
• Damage to the frontal lobe (the brain’s control centre): leading to problems controlling impulses, making decisions, setting goals, planning, problem-solving, assessing risk and prioritising activities. The frontal lobe also controls our personality and moral conscience.
ARBD is often mistaken for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, but one of the key differences is that, with the right treatment, symptoms of ARBD can improve greatly. Unlike Alzheimer’s, ARBD is not progressive – it doesn’t inevitably get worse over time. Recovery is possible and the outcomes for people who stop drinking can be very good, with much of the damage to the brain being reversed.
Each patient will have their own unique account of how addiction has impacted their life and the lives of loved ones. It is important to support and understand the client’s self experience and use this to develop an individual bio-psycho social care pathway.
Because of the medical problems that can occur during withdrawal, alcohol detoxification has to be carefully managed under the constant supervision of Specialist Doctors and clinical staff. Co-existing addictions or mental illness can also complicate treatment.
Following detoxification, support such as group therapy, one to one counselling and mutual aid support groups are used to help keep a person from returning to drinking. One commonly used form of mutual aid support is the group Alcoholics Anonymous. Antabuse or blocker medications such as acamprosate, disulfiram, or naltrexone may also be used to help prevent further drinking.
The Case for introducing Pabrinex
Pabrinex® is an injection that contains vitamins B and C (thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, nicotinamide and ascorbic acid). It is used to treat symptoms that can be caused by a lack of these vitamins. People who drink dependently, have had an infection, have had surgery, have regular haemodialysis (treatment which involves diverting blood into an external machine for filtering before it’s returned to the body) or some mental health conditions sometimes do not have enough of these vitamins, and need to have them replaced to prevent other problems from occurring.
Alcohol dependent patients may be at risk of developing Wernicke’s encephalopathy (a serious problem affecting memory) if they are not treated with Pabrinex® early in their attendance at hospital, so it may be started in the emergency department.
Pabrinex® can be administered via a drip, through a needle into a vein (known as an ‘infusion’) or inter muscular injection. It is a yellow coloured liquid.
Usually people have three days of treatment and are then started on vitamin tablets (for example multivitamins, thiamine and vitamin compound strong B). Sometimes the team looking after you will decide that you will benefit from more than five days of treatment.
Pabrinex Side effects
As with all medicines, Pabrinex® can cause side effects, though the likelihood of this happening is rare. If during or after your infusion you are sneezing more or feel that your chest is “tight’ or wheezy tell your doctor or nurse immediately. It may mean you are sensitive to the medicine and should not be given any more doses.
Allergic reactions are rare, but a severe allergic reaction (anaphylactic shock) can occur. Symptoms of this include swelling of the throat and face, a rash, severe itching, difficulty breathing and low blood pressure.
In the unlikely event of this happening you will be treated for your reaction and your healthcare team will observe you for any further problems. Some patients experience a mild feeling of pins and needles after receiving Pabrinex®.
As with any other medicine being given through a vein, you may get some swelling at the site it is given. If you notice any changes please tell your doctor or nurse.
Ray Jenkins Dip. Couns, MBA, FRSA