The A-Clinic Foundation was established in 1955 by 16 organisations, including medical and public health, temperance and social welfare organisations, and bodies representing the state alcohol monopoly, alcohol research and non-governmental alcoholism treatment services. The A-clinic was a social innovation of the 1950s. Offering voluntary outpatient treatment, A-clinics were a counterbalance to the compulsory residential treatment provided by the government and by local authorities. A-clinics'' mission was based on the following principles:
Alcohol problems can be treated and treating them is worth the while.
Problem drinkers feel responsible and are willing to seek treatment.
Problem drinkers should be accepted as human beings, and their opinions should be listened to and respected.
Help should be given without removing the individual from the home, work and community environment; family involvement, in particular, should be encouraged.
Social case work, learned especially from the USA, became the principal working method. Multiprofessional team work involving social workers, nurses and physicians was highly valued. Psychiatrists and social work teachers acted as supervisors to the A-clinic teams. Over the years, the basic ideas have been handed down, and they constitute today the basis for alcohol and drug abuse treatment throughout the country.
Over the years, outpatient A-clinics have been established throughout the country. Starting from the 1970s, the core services have been complemented with outpatient units for young people, inpatient detoxification units, inpatient rehabilitation units, residential services and day centres. Since 1974, most new units have been created as part of the services provided by the municipalities themselves. Today there are around 70 A-clinic units in Finland, the Foundation''s units and municipal units included. All specialized addiction units maintain close contact with self-help and support groups, such as A-Guilds (local associations of former clients of A-clinics) and Alcoholics Anonymous groups.