Over the years, the rate of addiction have increased tremendously, different kinds of addicts ranging from alcohol addicts to drug addicts have been a major source of concern which poses a threat to the physical and mental health and well-being of people. Nevertheless, addiction psychiatry has contributed immensely to this field thanks to advanced research and technology.
Addiction is a chronic condition initiated by the effect of compulsive substance use in spite of harmful consequences, such substances could be drugs, alcohol, and many others. An individual is said to be addicted when they keep taking these substances until the point when they have no control over it and leads to harmful consequences such as self-harm or loss of life. A recent survey from the 2018 National survey on drug use and health suggested that 20.3 million people from the age of 12 or older suffered from substance use addictions (cocaine, narcotics such as heroin) and 14.8 million of these cases were attributed to alcohol.
Who Are They? What Do They Do?
Addiction psychiatrist are medical practitioners within psychiatry that center on the analysis, assessment, and treatment of persons tormented by syndromes associating with addictions for instance addictions to marijuana, alcohol, sex, painkillers, internet, cocaine, heroin, tobacco and gambling. Addiction psychiatry is an emerging discipline that is high in demand in both the private and public sectors. They counsel patients, engage them in group therapy, conduct research on ways to curb addiction and, create effective treatment plans with the main aim of creating an addiction and sober free life. According to the world drug report in 2019, 35 million people in the world suffer from drug use addiction while only 1 in 7 people receive treatment.
They also provide detailed substance misuse prophylaxis and addiction therapy which consist of counseling meetings and group psychotherapy such as alcoholics and narcotics anonymous. Addiction must recognize the health effects of illegal drugs so that they can properly administer treatment to each individual. They guide individuals through the recovery process from different kinds of addiction. They may also be known as an addictionologist, substance abuse doctor, or addiction doctor.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of an addict vary in different individuals, substances used, family history, and personal experiences.
An individual with substance use disorder finds it very hard to control their use of a specific substance even though they are aware of the consequences of its use. Powerful cravings also depict addiction, the individual may not be able to quit his or her addictive behavior even if the desire to quit is expressed.
The symptoms of addiction can be classified into three:
- Psychological symptoms
This includes the inability to stop using such substances, due to the fact that some of these substances are of chemical nature e.g cocaine, the individual might experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking them. These also include taking a larger dose per normal; this is common to alcohol use disorder and pain killer addiction. Also, taking serious risks such as stealing, engaging in violence and, other situations that can cause bodily harm.
- Social symptoms
This includes self-isolation whereby the individual refuses to associate with people because he or she has found a new source of joy or comfort, solitude, financial difficulties which arise as a result of the purchase of the same substance, secrecy and, most of all denial on which the individual doesn’t know there is a problem or refuses to acknowledge the fact that there is a problem.
- Physical symptoms
Symptoms such as a change in appetite as the individual are hooked on, damage to the body such as injuries and sometimes leading to deadly diseases such as lung cancer and kidney cancer if lucky kidney infections, change in appearance is also a vital physical symptom as the individual appearance is haggard, unkept and sickly.
Who Do They Treat?
The treatment for addiction is not limited to a particular age grade or sex, anyone can be treated. Majorly, people with substance addiction and also have a history of substance abuse such as cocaine, marijuana abuse. Also, people who suffer from mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, other disorders such as eating disorders, psychotic disorders, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression should be treated by an addiction psychiatrist.
How Do They Treat?
The state of our mental health is very important as individuals, addiction not only affects the mental and physical health, other parts of our day to day life such as socializing, work, home, school, or even with the law are affected.
There are alternative ways of treating addiction the primary and major treatment is detoxification, where the abusers are cleared of all toxic substances.
Administering medications for example mood stabilizers, pills, and antidepressants for alcoholism and, several other medications is another effective way of treating addiction.
Another treatment method counseling and behavioral therapy which includes:
Psychotherapy – interaction with the therapist so as to help deal with the problem.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – administered in the treatment of complex substance use, it helps the addict to cope and identify risky situations and learning what to do about them when found in such situations.
Contingency Management (CM) – this is effective in the treatment of various types of substance use disorder. For example, alcohol, opioids, marijuana. It encourages patients to maintain sobriety.
Motivational interviewing (MI) –this helps those that are recovering to build up their own motivation which gives them a sense of control which is very important to an addict.
Tests Performed By Addiction Psychiatrist
There are various tests carried out to help differentiate between the symptoms of a substance use disorder from mental illness so that they can be treated accordingly. These tests include imaging tests which are X-rays, Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check for brain anomalies, the cognitive function test which is to access the intelligent quotient (IQ) and tests the patients thinking process, psychological tests, and personality test. All these various tests depend on the type of addiction the patient has.