Everyone would say it’s a growing menace and one another hand people wouldn’t even feel comfortable while talking to a person who is suffering from addiction. This term “addiction” carries a load stigma on its back and it hinders the new outlook.
Addiction is a biological disease and it is certainly not a choice as many would suggest. Now being a disease it has symptoms like craving for substance (alcohol, opium, tobacco etc.), withdrawal symptoms in absence of substance intake. Along with this there are many other ill effects of this disease such as social isolation, marital & social dysfunction and involvement in illegal activities such as thefts, drug peddling etc. Fortunately its medical treatment is available and is successful in majority of cases.
First time use of various substances like alcohol, tobacco, cannabis etc. is very common among adolescents and young adults. This results from a variety of factors like peer influences, familial & social factors. But who will develop addiction or dependence as we doctors call it?
Well there is no single answer to it, there is role of genetics and hereditary, then there are personal, social and environmental influences. The continued long term use of substances produces changes in our brain and nerves and thus body becomes used to it. So when a patient stops taking substances even for a day or two it leads to withdrawal symptoms such as decreased sleep, craving, anxiety, tremors in hands and many others. These symptoms and associated craving maintains the substance use.
To treat such patients we have number of medicines for controlling withdrawal symptoms and in combination with counselling the approach can lead to reversal of changes in brain and nerves. For majority of substances the acute withdrawal period lasts for eleven to fifteen days and can be easily managed with treatment. Thereafter depending on case, we have multiple options which can either decrease the craving for substances or can reduce the reinforcing effects of substances.
For those individuals who have tried medical treatment on multiple occasions but have failed, can also be managed with options of long term treatment with medicines and counselling. To sum up, addiction is a form of medical disease which can be treated and suffering individual needs to be socially supported and encouraged to take the treatment.
Author is a consultant psychiatrist at
For any further inquiries
Contact: Dr. Sukhtej Sahni
Email id; email@example.com
Ph. No. 9646001675