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Battling Addiction with the Help of Psychiatry
When battling addiction, the use of psychiatry can assist you on your path to recovery. Addiction is a serious condition, a brain disorder that leads to compulsive substance use, even if the sufferer is aware of the dangers. Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and are therefore qualified to be part of a patient’s addiction treatment.
Understanding the effects of addiction
People dealing with addiction are driven by the use of a particular substance (or multiple substances) to a level where they lose control of their lives. They keep using a drug or alcohol even when they know the harmful consequences of doing so. Common addictions include:
- Hallucinogens such as PCP and LSD
- Sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics (anxiety drugs such as tranquilizers)
- Inhalants, such as glue and paint thinners
- Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine
- Opioid pain killers, such as codeine and oxycodone, heroin
People dealing with substance abuse have warped thoughts, actions and body functions. The substance causes harmful alterations to brain functions. The changes to brain wiring are what make people with an intense craving for the substance unable to quit usage. Brain imaging scans show modifications in parts of the brain that deal with decision making, learning, judgment, memory, decision making and behavior control.
The substance use causes changes that last long after its immediate effects, otherwise known as intoxication. Intoxication is the powerful pleasure, heightened senses, calm, or a “high” that follows substance use. The signs of intoxication depend on the substance. Gradually, people with addiction build a tolerance to the point where they require more to feel intoxicated. It gets harder to stop at this point. However, with psychiatric treatment, people with substance use disorder can recover and live productively.
How psychiatry can help
Psychiatrists play an important role in detoxification, the first step of the addiction treatment process when patients are weaned off the substance safely. Since addiction can alter the brain’s neurochemistry, the expertise and training of psychiatrists are essential. When substance abuse is present with another mental disorder (dual diagnosis) such as anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression, treatment usually entails behavioral therapy, medication and psychiatric consultation.
To start the journey to recovery, patients must first recognize the issue. The recovery process may hit a snag if the person denies having a problem and fails to understand substance misuse and addiction. Interference by concerned family and friends usually kickstarts treatment.
The psychiatrist will perform a formal assessment of the patient’s symptoms to know if there is a case of substance use disorder. Regardless of how severe the problem is, most people battling addiction can benefit from treatment. Unfortunately, many people who need treatment do not seek help.
Are you struggling with addiction?
Due to the multi-faceted effects of addiction on someone’s life, multiple treatment options are sometimes necessary. For most patients, the combination of drugs and individual or group therapy is highly effective. Treatment plans may also include therapeutic communities, outpatient programs, self-help groups and hospitalization. Psychiatric help that focuses on the person’s condition and any co-occurring psychiatric, medical and social issues can ensure lasting recovery from addiction.
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