December 11, 2016
Substance abuse disorders are classified in medical science as an illness but the society still looks at them as a characterological trait which the sufferer is solely responsible for. Even though the socio cultural factors play a significant role in substance use behavior, genetic and biological influences can’t be discounted. Epidemiological studies of twins and families have demonstrated a genetic contribution of 30-60% in developing addiction. Coping with substance use disorders thus requires understanding and education of both biological and psycho social factors.
Deal with Denial- Most patients believe that they can give up the habit when they choose to and need no help. Substance abuse is a complex condition and treatment requires adequate guidance and support especially during withdrawal phase. Patients need to be educated that biological withdrawals can be quite threatening, especially in case of alcohol dependence and need proper medical attention.
Get rid of Guilt- Not being able to stop taking a harmful substance is a medical problem and proper treatment can be helpful. Feeling guilty and not taking help because of guilt is a major reason for treatment noncompliance and obstructs recovery.
Take Responsibility- Even though substance abuse is mediated by biological and psycho social factors, one needs to take responsibility for recovery. Patient can get better if he/she accepts that abuse behavior can be controlled if one chose to and decides to make that choice. Medicines and therapy require cooperation from the patient and are not the sole responsibility of the treating psychiatrist or family members.
Accept psychological conflicts that fuel substance abuse behavior- Whether it is anxiety, tension or depression or a social problem, if one feels like taking the substance to relieve the stress resulting from these issues, one needs to accept and sort them. Rehabilitation is aimed at identifying all such factors that cause relapse to substance abuse behavior.
Psychiatric disorders increase vulnerability for substance abuse disorders. Take help before self-medicating with alcohol, nicotine or drugs.