Archive for October, 2009

Crisis Intervention – An Important Aspect of Drug Recovery

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The risk of relapse remains for most drug abusers throughout their life. Several factors might trigger relapse, crisis being one of them. Crisis is a painful event or situation that can disturb the normal functioning and emotional state of the individual. A crisis in an abstinent person’s life can push him back into the nasty cycle of drug addiction. But, every problem is not a crisis. The individual, in his course of recovery, learns to solve several problems on his own. But there are situations that cannot be solved with just his usual problem solving resources. It is during such situations that a professional help is required to deal with the situation and help the person continue with his recovery.

For a recovering drug user crisis may emerge from any of the following situations –

Family situations like lack of family support, separation, physical illness in the family, death of a close family member can give rise to crises for the abstinent user.

Interpersonal problems arising from difficulties in relationships within and outside the family can lead to crises. Positive emotions like a promotion, marriage, birth of a child could also act as crisis situations.

Personal and social situations involving problems resulting from the person’s previous drug use like legal action for some criminal action done before, ostracism from the community due to previous behavior are also potential causes of crisis.

Economic situations like losing a job, failure to repay debt, failure to find a job could also spark off a crisis.

Following a crisis, the person feels anxious, hurt, upset or angry. He might try to deal with the problem on his own or with the family members. But if he fails then the emotional problems might worsen and he might run the risk of relapse. This possibility usually lasts for 4 to 6 weeks and it is a critical period when he needs help to stay on his path of recovery.

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Treatment of Drug and Substance Addiction – An Overview

addiction

The disease of addiction entails a lot of complexities which affect every sphere of the addict’s life as well as that of his family members. Addiction, like any other chronic disease, is treatable. Treatment of addiction has several components which aims at making the victim drug free and rehabilitating him into the mainstream of life. It covers detoxification and management of medical problems, providing individual, family and group counseling and extending follow-up care.

Treatment of addiction is primarily based on certain guiding principles, the salient one being that recovery from addiction is possible though there is a probability of relapse and recovery is usually a long process. The treatment procedure must focus on various needs of the recovering person – physical, psychological, legal, vocational, spiritual and others. Counseling forms an integral part of the treatment and this should continue for an adequate period of time. Regular monitoring of the individual’s needs, problems and his progress is essential.

The involvement of family, community, workplace and support groups facilitate recovery. Co-morbidity is one of the most chief factors since most of the addicts do suffer from different types of physical or mental problems which, if left untreated, will take a more serious form in recovery and this might act as a trigger for relapse.

The initial step in treating an addict is assessment of the causes of addiction and identification of the most appropriate treatment modalities which could meet his needs.

Detoxification is the next step which deals with the abstinence syndrome caused by the cessation of the use of drugs. Detoxification can be done in a controlled environment such as at a detoxification center or on an outpatient basis.

The early detoxification phase is followed by counseling – individual or group. This enables the client to assess his problems and motivates him to develop coping skills.

An effective treatment procedure should have a component of aftercare since it is essential to sustain recovery.

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Understanding the Drug Addiction Recovery Process

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The recovery process is a long and painful journey from dependence on drugs to a drug free healthy lifestyle. It is the process for making intrapersonal and interpersonal changes. It is the time for healing the damage caused by addiction by learning new skills and tasks to face the challenges of the drug free life.

The process of recovery begins when the addict sees that he can go no further accepting the fact that he is over-powered by drugs and there is actually no safe way of using it. Most of the time his family members and friends intervene to make him realize the fact.

Recovery from addiction is thus a dynamic and progressive process and it could be divided into certain stages on the basis of the developmental growth events experienced by the individual during his recovery journey.

The “Unfreezing Phase”/Ambivalence

This is the phase of emotional awakening when the person suddenly realizes the sorrowful condition of his existence, the things that he has lost, troubles he has caused, the innocent people he has hurt. After many false starts he accepts help, begins to trust a helping person, evaluates experiences and recognizes the damage and distress that drug has caused. He begins to feel hopeful and decides to accept directive help to learn to live without drugs.

The “Reshaping Phase”/Commitment

The recovering addict learns to live without drugs. Slowly he becomes adapted to the new routines of life and at the same time he develops better self-control and self-respect. He also develops an alliance with other recovering peers and practices the recovery skills together with them. The stronger the bondage the better the chances of recovery.

The “Refreezing Phase”/Integration
This is the final stage in which he makes progress in all aspects of life. The process of assimilation and validation occurs most naturally. He assumes responsibilities with confidence and adapts to recovery practices in everyday life to reduce drug craving and risk of relapse. He becomes a part of the mainstream community.

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Women and Drug Addiction: Any Correlation?

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Drug addiction is a serious problem that has been affecting both the genders without any bias. Women have been known to play the multiple roles of home makers as well as bread earners. But the common notion about the fairer sex is that they are emotionally stronger than males and have a strong shoulder to bear all the responsibilities that their counterparts fail or resign from doing. But the truth is that the more you are tough the easier it is to break you.

The underlying vulnerability is masked by the toughness and the burden of responsibilities and constant stress make them internally vulnerable and a physical or emotional disturbance might cause a turmoil triggering drug abuse leading to drug dependency.

Women drug abusers face serious challenges to their well-being during their lives. Researches show that a large number of them present a history of physical and sexual abuse. The condition worsens when such women get into flesh trade just to earn the money to sustain their drug taking habit. The result is obvious – sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS.

Often it is found the initiation of the habit is through her male counterpart – spouse or boyfriend- who is also an addict. In such cases it becomes very difficult for the women to abstain from drugs since the lifestyle of the partner supports it.

Research indicates that women become more easily dependent on certain drugs like cocaine even after experimental or casual use. Thus by the time she seeks treatment she may be severely addicted.

A problem with female addicts is that most of the time they do not seek treatment due to fear of rejection from their family members, community. But treatment is an absolute necessity for them. A comprehensive treatment approach that takes care of the special needs of women together with support and encouragement from the family and community is essential to help them in refraining from addiction.

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Warning Signs of Relapse – Watch out!

Warning Signs
Treatment for addiction is seen as an end to all problems. The society as well as the family expects the individual to behave like any other individual. They fail to realize that recovery brings with it very complex problems and that the recovering addict has to develop newer skills to deal with them. Transition from drug using to drug free life needs a lot of adjustment. The situation is complicated by the constant bombardment of alcohol or drug related situation against which he has to guard himself. Over and above is the threat of psychological craving that might creep in at any point of time and shake the recovery of the person. Thus a recovering person is always on the edge trying to balance himself, a small mistake will pull him down to zero again.

But relapse is preventable provided the recovering person as well as the significant people in his life is able to identify the relapse warning signs and take the necessary steps to cope with the situation. The changes take place at the following levels –

Changes in attitude

- No efforts/commitment towards sobriety.
- Becoming extremely pessimistic.
- Impatience.
- Tunnel vision – looking at life in fragments and not as a whole.
- Overconfidence.
- Open rejection of help.

Changes in thought

- Thoughts about substitute drugs.
- Denial and resistance to change.
- Thinks that he deserves drugs since he has been sober for quite some time.

Changes in feelings

- Increased moodiness and depression.
- Strong feelings of anger and resentment.
- Increased feelings of boredom and loneliness.

Changes in behavior

- Increased episodes of disagreement with people around.
- drug taking friends.
- support group meetings.
- Displaying visible signs of stress such as smoking more cigarettes.
- Talking repeatedly about pleasures associated with drug use.

Recently seen someone with these symptoms? Help them…..they need our support.

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Legalizing Pot – will that really help?

Pot
The ban on cannabis use in California had been in effect since 1913. After 96 years the state Assembly is considering the issue of legalizing the use of pot just like alcohol. The Assembly Public Safety Committee considered the legal, financial and criminal consequences of legalizing the drug. The state has been going through budget crisis and it is being held that the millions of dollars that goes towards fighting cultivation, sale and use of this cash crop could be utilized to aid the state to overcome this crisis. Tax officials believe that the struggling state could earn revenue of around $1.4 billion annually.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said, “It is time to take our heads out of the sand and start to regulate this $1.4 billion industry. By doing so, we can enact smart public money that will bring much needed revenue into the state and improve public safety by utilizing our limited law enforcement resources more wisely. The move toward regulation is simply common sense.” The $1.4 billion is Ammiano’s estimated value of both illegal and medical marijuana. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger does not support the matter but said that he is open to a “robust debate” since the legalization could save money and generate state funds.

The law enforcement agencies stand against the issue. According to them, legalization of pot will increase the use of the drug and crimes associated with it. But Ammiano felt that regulation would decrease the accessibility of the drug to young people, “specially those recruited to sell it.”

Opponents like John Redman of Californians For Drug Free Youth said, “This is bad to tax something that is going to be harmful to our youth, harmful to our communities, harmful to our churches.”

Problems related to alcohol and prescription drug use has been growing by leaps and bounds in the state and the nation as a whole. Don’t you think legalization of pot will add to the problem?

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