Drug “addiction” is now termed “dependence” or “abuse” depending on the usage of the illicit drug. Various illicit substances maybe used/abused. Each of them have a different intoxication and withdrawal profile and as such require treatment specific to that substance. Just like any other illness, Substance dependence/ use/ abuse is also considered a biological illness and is such treated the same way.
“Addictions” can also be behavioural, like, internet addiction, gaming addiction, smartphone use addiction, etc
When the person develops a manipulative pattern of using the substance, in the form of “Abuse” or “Dependence” as explained above, treatment becomes of paramount importance. Sometimes intoxication and withdrawal syndrome can become very severe requiring not only psychiatric but also medical treatment for the complications that may accompany them. Some patients try to quit unsuccessfully in the past and may then seek medical treatment to assist in the de-addiction process. Some patients may develop severe medical complications, e.g: seizure disorder, liver failure, etc. secondary to the substance use and may then seek help for de-addiction for managing their withdrawal syndrome.
For persons with less severe dependence, brief interventions that are OPD based maybe efficient. Intensive treatments maybe needed for severe dependence syndromes.
Usually the treatment begins with management of withdrawal syndrome. This entails, giving medical treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and complications. This treatment includes not only supportive treatment but also therapies specific to that particular substance.
The next phase is called De-addiction and involves continuation of abstinence from the substance and therapy that supports the same. Medical treatment is continued and psychotherapy started as per patient preference and clinical and demographic profile of the patient.
Co-morbidities that have risen out of the chronic use of the substance also need to be taken care of and medical treatment as such is started and continued alongside psychiatric treatment.
As mentioned above, each substance has a unique clinical picture as far as intoxication and withdrawal is considered. But there are some common behavioural patterns that may be displayed by anyone who suffers from a substance dependence. The following are a few of them:
Abuse: It is a pattern of substance use where the following occurs over a 12 month period:
Dependence: It is a pattern of substance use results in significant distress and impairment and where the following occurs over a 12 month period:
The above symptom profile or signs apply to behavioural addictions also.
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