[ Akagi-kohgen Hospital: Alcoholism-specialized
( Updated on 02/19/2009 )
Akagi-kohgen Hospital is a psychiatric hospital,
which specializes in the treatment of alcoholism.
The hospital was opened in 1990 on Akagi
highland in Akagi village, Gunma prefecture.
The hospital is located close to the center
of Japan, near the famous hot spring resort,
Ikaho, only two hours from Tokyo by either
train or car. Although there are about ten
alcoholism-specialized hospitals in Japan,
it is the only facility of this type in the
north Kanto area.
Akagi-kohgen Hospital has 107 beds for inpatients, including nine in a
secure closed ward. The number of inpatients is nearly 100 and their average
hospital stay is about 50 days. The hospital admits and discharges about
50 patients a month. Roughly one third of these patients are first admission
cases while the other two thirds are repeat admission cases. The largest
group of admitted patients are middle and older age male alcoholics. Their
share of our total patients, however is rather small compared to other
alcoholism-treatment facilities whose patients are mostly older men. In
contrast to other facilities, female patients amount to 30 to 40 percent
of our inpatients and a majority of them are young women. Many of these
young female alcoholic patients have a bulimic type eating disorder
as a concomitant cross-addiction problem. A small but important part of
inpatients are battered wives who are depressed and confused and adult
children of alcoholics who have additional pathological problems such as
drug abuse, eating disorders, self mutilation and suicidal tendencies.
Both of these types of patients have been or are presently the victims
of violence in the alcoholic family situation. They need special education
therapy in a safe environment. Young ladies who have been sexually molested
in their childhood are the patients who need the greatest care in their
treatment. Some of them have post-traumatic stress disorder or dissociative
disorders. We regard family members of alcoholic patients as people who
need help not only because of their involvement with the patients but also
because it benefits their own personal well-being.
We think it is important to treat family members when they seek help, because
we are the people who can best understand their trouble and agony and we
have the knowledge and ability to help them. We believe treating family
members is more cost-effective than treating only the alcoholic patients,
although we have not been able to make this fully understood by administrative
The director of the hospital, Michio Takemura,
M.D. graduated from Osaka University, Medical
Faculty, and learned clinical psychiatry
at Teikyo University Hospital. He is an experienced
family therapist and an addiction problems
specialist. He started treating alcoholism
in 1985 in Mizonokuchi Hospital in Kawasaki
city, Kanagawa prefecture. He was the president
of the Clinical Institute on Addiction Problems
in Tokyo and worked with Dr. Satoru Saito,
the leading Japanese addiction therapist,
before moving to Gunma prefecture to prepare
for the opening of Akagi-kohgen Hospital.
Along with Dr. Michio Takemura, there are three psychiatrists now working
in the hospital, all who specialize in the treatment of alcoholism. The
hospital staff includes eight part-time psychiatrists, one internist, four
full-time psychiatric social workers (PSW) and one part-time clinical psychologist
and about 40 nurses. About ten of our staff are former patients including
one psychiatrist and one PSW who are recovered alcoholics and three nurses
who were admitted in our hospital before working as staff.
Many of our former inpatients are now living in Gunma prefecture and are
active in self-help groups. They were either alcoholics, drug addicts,
eating disorder patients or family members who had been treated in our
hospital. They visit the hospital to give their messages of support to
their comrades in their own time, or as a part-time job at our request.
This friendship of current and former patients is a prerequisite for recovery
and encourages the progress of both groups.
Judging the urgency for the treatment of the addiction problems is very
important. We must evaluate the patients' physical and psychological condition
and assess which stage of the recovery process they are in in order to
give them adequate tasks. We shouldn't hasten them. Particularly, when
we treat survivors from childhood abuse. We need to be sensitive to the
safety of the patients.
The three principal therapy models in our
hospital are education, family therapy and
group therapy. We provide about 20 group
therapy sessions and about 10 message type
group sessions a week, and about 10 self-help
group type sessions a day.
By Michio Takemura, M.D.
1051, Kita-Akagi-san, Akagi-machi
Shibukawa city, Gunma Prefecture,
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