Addiction is the greatest challenge our community is facing now a days. This term “addiction” carries stigma and hinders the acceptance among the society. So the world health organization recommends the term “Substance Use Disorder”. We are facing this menace worldwide and on a national level. The situation however is grimmer at our very own Punjab. As per a recent study by GNDU almost 73% of Punjabi youth are involved in drug use. To tackle this menace we have to pull our socks and stick to basic principle of educating the masses and then encouraging them to come forward for treatment.
Our Punjab govt. Recognized de-addiction Centre at cheema medical complex, phase 4, Mohali. We try to narrow the treatment gap with our very innovative tri-dimensional approach. First and foremost is the awareness of the masses. To achieve this daunting task we have multi personnel team comprising of an educator, psychologist and a community activist. This team visits the rural areas of Punjab on almost every working day and they hold their canopies and educate the youth and others regarding this problem. They also distribute pamphlets and other reading materials for this purpose and encourage the sufferers to come forward for treatment.
Then treatment approach of our tem also differs significantly from other de-addiction centres in Punjab. In our Centre we cover the other two dimension of treatment which includes Mind and Body. The medical treatment involves administration of medicines for the purpose of controlling the withdrawal symptoms. There after the other dimensions take care of the psychological aspects. The psychological treatment involves relaxation training, Motivation enhancement therapies and relapse prevention strategies.
To understand it better one has to know what it is and how addiction is itself a medical illness. 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 counseling 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 counseling. 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 chief consultant psychiatrist at cheema medical complex, phase 4, Mohali.
For any further inquiries
Contact: Dr.Sukhtej Sahni
Email id: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ph. No. 9646001675