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Psychiatrist’s Perspective on Substance Abuse

Treatment and early identification of addiction can significantly enhance outcomes.
07:47 AM Jun 27, 2024 IST | Guest Contributor
psychiatrist’s perspective on substance abuse

Substance abuse, or drug addiction, involves many psychological, social, and biological components. Understanding these aspects is essential to effective management and prevention. The following are some fascinating facts that the general public may learn from a psychiatrist regarding addiction and its treatment:


  • Addiction is a complex disease that presents as a persistent, recurrent brain issue characterized by compulsive drug or substance use despite harmful consequences. It doesn't suggest weakness or a lack of willpower. Addiction affects the brain's reward system and leads to changes in behavior, judgment, and self-control.
  • Everyone is susceptible to addiction: Addiction can affect people of different ages, genders, financial statuses, and cultural origins. It can also apply to prescription medications, alcohol, and other legal substances as well as leisure pursuits like gambling and gaming. It is not exclusive to illicit substances.
  • Individuals with mental health disorders, personality traits, and poor coping mechanisms are at higher risk for substance abuse. Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD can lead to self-medicating substance use. Personality traits like impulsivity and stress-seeking are also linked to increased substance abuse. Poor coping mechanisms can lead to substance use as a means of escape.
  • Early action is necessary. Treatment and early identification of addiction can significantly enhance outcomes. Early intervention can reduce harm, stop addiction from getting worse, and raise the chance that recovery and treatment will be effective.
  • Addiction is a condition that may be treated, thus recovery is possible. Various therapy approaches may be employed, contingent upon the substance or behavior under consideration and the individual's specific needs. Comprehensive treatment typically combines behavioral therapies, medication, psychotherapy, and support groups.
  • Medicines can aid in recovery: Medications can play a crucial role in the treatment of addiction. The possibility of a successful recovery can be increased by controlling withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, and restoring brain function. However, medication-assisted treatment has to be part of a comprehensive care plan and under close supervision from a medical professional at all times.
  • Addiction is effectively treated using behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and contingency management are a few behavioral therapies that are effective in treating addiction. These treatments help patients recognize and change the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors related to substance use, as well as create more resilient coping mechanisms.
  • Establishing supporting settings is essential: Creating a supportive environment is necessary for a complete recovery. This could mean participating in support organizations (such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous), reaching out to friends and family for assistance, joining encouraging social media networks, or undergoing inpatient or outpatient therapy.
  • Relapses can happen at any point during the healing process: persons who are attempting to recover often have relapses. Relapse needs to be viewed as a setback as opposed to an incapacity. Relapses can provide valuable information regarding triggers and areas of therapy that need further attention. It is essential to seek support and assistance as soon as possible in order to get back on track.
  • Dual diagnosis and co-occurring disorders: A large number of addicts also experience co-occurring mental health issues including PTSD, depression, or anxiety. In addition to treating the addiction, treating the co-occurring disorder is essential for a successful recovery. Integrated therapy techniques that target both issues at the same time usually yield better outcomes.
  • Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process: Addiction recovery takes a lifetime of work. It requires ongoing commitment, maintenance, and assistance. It's vital to develop healthy coping mechanisms, look after oneself, manage stress, and engage in activities that improve overall wellbeing.

Understanding the psychological aspects of substance misuse is essential to developing effective prevention and treatment strategies. A comprehensive approach that includes behavioral therapy, early intervention, education, medication, and support networks can help individuals achieve and maintain recovery.


BY Dr Sheikh Shoib, a Psychiatric Consultant