A “Sharp” Approach to Alcoholic Treatment

  • Peter Stead
  • Judith Viders


This paper describes a hospital based, total abstinence, self-help alcohol recovery program (SHARP) which has an active social support system in the community called CORK. This self-help program engages chronic alcoholics in assuming major roles in governing the program and in helping one another. In SHARP’s approach, new and meaningful social roles are created for patients so they can actively participate in their own recovery. Patients are helped to develop skills in assertiveness, organization and negotiation. SHARP also includes a work-for-pay program (Payday) which re-establishes dignity, promotes camaraderie, and provides a financial grubstake. SHARP provides a setting for mutual planning to re-enter the community with an improved self-image and health. Because we believe follow-up support is essential to maintain sobriety, SHARP created a community program, CORK. CORK sustains the values and skills of SHARP which are a common bond, sobriety, and mutual assistance. Since its inception in October 1975, CORK has grown from 8 to 162 members discharged 6 months or more, plus their families and friends. Of these members, 104 are totally abstinent and 38 are drinking, but still occupied and in charge of their lives. The evidence of SHARP’s success is shown by results of the 1976-1977 follow-up study which surveyed former patients’ levels of drinking activity and life functioning. Results show 37% totally abstinent, 20% drinking controlled and infrequently, and 14% drinking but still in charge of their lives.

An alcoholic treatment for long term chronic alcoholics with impoverished social relationships has created a subculture which starts in a hospital and extends into the community. By providing a social support system, this subculture aids the recovering alcoholic in maintaining sobriety and remaining productively occupied.


Alcoholic Treatment Probation Officer Excessive Drinking Veteran Administration Hospital Social Support System 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Stead
    • 1
  • Judith Viders
    • 2
  1. 1.SHARP Program Veterans Administration HospitalPalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Veterans Administration HospitalSan FranciscoUSA

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