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Ways out of addiction – the "Grüner Kreis" Society for the rehabilitation and integration of addicted persons



The “Grüner Kreis” Society was founded in 1983 based on the ideas of Prim. Dr. G. Pernhaupt, as an institution for the rehabilitation and integration of addicted persons, with its headquarters in Vienna. Director Alfred Rohrhofer, founding member of the Society, acts as the General Manager, Dr. Robert Muhr as the Director of Treatment and Dr. med. Leonidas K. Lemonis as the Medical Director. 

Having grown to become the largest charitable organisation in Austria in the field of addiction, the “Grüner Kreis” offers fast and professional help in problems of dependence. Addicted male and female young people and adults, parents or single parents with children, couples as well as people ordered by the courts to seek therapy from the whole of the Federal territory of Austria are cared for by the Society. In principle, male and female patients with addictive behaviour such as a gambling addiction, for example, as also clients from the entire EU area are treated. Seen in relation to the wide spectrum of individual therapeutic and care initiatives, the “Grüner Kreis” is therefore the most diverse institution offering assistance in addiction in Austria.

The outpatient advisory and care centres of the Institution are located in Vienna, Graz, Klagenfurt and Linz. The Viennese Centre was opened in 1995, the Graz Centre in 1998, the Klagenfurt Centre in 2001 and the Linz Centre in 2006. For problems of dependence, they offer fast and professional help in a wide range of areas and:

Inpatient therapy is offered in nine therapeutic communities in Lower Austria and Styria, with room for 269 people. Depending on how the patients feel in themselves, the option exists for short-term therapy of three to six months, or long-term therapy for at least ten months. In the inpatient scheme there are special programmes for parents with children, young people, women, patients in substitution or with psychogene comorbidity; particular attention is paid to gender-specific aspects in these programmes. On the basis of a list of indications developed by the “Grüner Kreis”, patients are assigned to short-term therapy or to long-term therapy.

The key aspects of the “Grüner Kreis” therapeutic concept are as follows:

  • Psychotherapy means supporting and encouraging patients to cope with their personal history and development. This is offered in individual therapy and group therapy sessions.
  • Social therapy comprises developing the ability to live alongside others, to acquire social skills, to plan one’s future and education, and work therapy. Work therapy is seen not merely as employment therapy, but is intended to enable patients to find meaning for themselves in work and to acquire the staying power and tolerance of frustration necessary for a sustained working life. The individual’s capacity to work has to be re-established, reinforced or improved. The patients’ return to the labour market at the conclusion of therapy and therefore their integration into society is prepared for by the Society by means of school-leaving exams, completing their training, learning a trade, etc. To further assist patients to integrate in the labour market, the “Grüner Kreis” in collaboration with the “Arbeitsmarktservice”, the Austrian public employment service, offers temporary, subsidised jobs as transit employees after completing inpatient long-term therapy.
  • Active leisure pursuits, and education through practical participation in the fields of sport, art and culture are regarded as being of major importance. By creating prospects for the future or by acquiring skills, patients are shown ways in which they can structure their leisure time in a worthwhile way.
  • Medical care is given regularly by general practitioners and specialists, as well as by nurses and care assistants of the Society. The team of physicians in the “Grüner Kreis” also works closely in this regard with local practitioners and hospitals in the surrounding area.

For patients during their stay, the idea of self-help is of great importance and this is especially underpinned from the therapeutic side. Giving one’s life a worthwhile structure, taking on duties and responsibility for oneself and other group members are central aspects of the therapy. Weekly and daily timetables are clearly structured on the basis of house rules and are organised with the aim of sustaining as realistic an allocation of time as possible. Animals as “tangible” partners in a relationship, a wide range of sports, art, culture and creative programmes, internally and externally, national and international events, and many more are equally an integral part of the successful concept of the “Grüner Kreis”.