The experience of detoxification and satisfaction of patients with their treatment in a community-based alcohol recovery unit established by a voluntary organisation and in a psychiatric unit in a general hospital were assessed with the help of a structured questionnaire. Patients admitted to the two units were satisfactorily matched on most, although not all, variables. The types of withdrawal symptoms and lengths of stay were similar. No patient was transferred to hospital from the community facility. Patient satisfaction was greater in the detoxification unit where the cost of treatment was about a third of that in the psychiatric unit.
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