Wednesday, 15 April 2009

How to maximise withdrawal from drug use: researcher

Renowned researcher Professor Barry Stimmel [email], writing in the latest Family Court Review, has summarised some of the reasons that those addicted to drugs take up drugs, and some of the methods used to overcome dependencies.

Helpfully, he states:

No single modality will be effective for everyone. There is a street saying:
"Different strokes for different folks." Those involved in providing treatment
ignore this at times and advocate their own method of treatment to the exclusion
of others. Unfortunately, this guides many individuals into therapies that are
inappropriate for them.

He goes on to say by using a variety of means, especially one targetted for that user, will increase the chances of effectiveness.

The pharmalogical approaches to treating use of mood altering drugs are:

• Detoxification
• Maintenance
• Production of adverse effects if illicit drug use continues
• Reduction of craving
• Treatment of coexisting psychological states
• Relaxation
• Vaccination

The non-pharmalogical approaches are:

• Acupuncture
• Brief interviews
• Psychotherapy (individual or group)
• Comprehensive outpatient therapy
• Employee assistance programs
• Sociocultural support (e.g., residency houses, self-help groups, spirituality)

Why do people take drugs? Professor Stimmel states:

At the risk of oversimplification, all drug use is related to the pleasure/pain
principle. Mood-altering drugs are taken either to promote pleasure or to
relieve pain. On an individual basis, factors promoting the initiation of drug
use may vary greatly between individuals. However, they must be addressed in
order to maximize the chances of success once drug use is discontinued.

Factors thought to play a role in the inappropriate use of mood altering drugs are:

• Genetic Predisposition
• Inadequate Parenting
• Peer Pressure/The Need to Fit In
• Risk-Taking
• Inappropriate Role Models
• Relaxation
• The Need to Feel Good

Which are the most addictive?

Professor Stimmel states:

While stimulants—which range from caffeine to nicotine to hardcore drugs
such as amphetamines and cocaine—cause very little physical dependency, the
psychological dependency and craving associated with cocaine and amphetamines
are considerable. Although it is not commonly realized that dependency on
caffeine can exist, it has been documented in literature. However, it is a
dependency that is not difficult to overcome and has rarely presented a problem
in a clinical setting. Tobacco is another issue; it is quite difficult for
individuals who have become dependent on cigarettes to stop smoking, with a
recidivism rate greater than those of illicit mood-altering substances,
including heroin and cocaine. Dependence upon cocaine is perhaps the greatest
stimulant dependency to overcome.

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