Addiction and Psychiatric Medication Treatment
Psychiatric Medication used appropriately to treat mental health disorders has the ability to change lives for the better. However, when these drugs are used for non-medical reasons or in a manner other than prescribed, they are powerful agents of addiction which can destroy emotional and physical well-being.
The wrong psychiatric medication can lead to more problems and addiction. The proper diagnosis is of the utmost importance as is a program that can address mental health disorders, addiction and medication management. Call 800-993-3869 and find a comprehensive treatment program right for you.
Millions of people in the U.S. suffer from psychiatric disorders. Over 13% of adults (National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH) suffer from one or any combination of 300 mental health disorders (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, DSM-IV). When correctly diagnosed, many of these disorders are treatable with the appropriate psychiatric medications.
Some abused psychiatric medications are:
- Antidepressant medications
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Antipsychotic medications
If you believe you or someone you know needs help with psychiatric disorders and addiction to psychiatric medications, call 800-993-3869.
Antidepressant medications treat people with a depressive disorder. Several different types of antidepressants exist such as:
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants
- Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSNIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): not as commonly prescribed today due to side-effects
- Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): rarely used today due to side effects.
There also some other antidepressants that don't fall into any of these categories.
Often people will go to their primary doctors for anti-depressants. Most primary doctors are not experts in psychiatric medications and may be limited in expertise regarding depression. Some individuals think that more medication will alleviate their depression quicker. They become dependent on their antidepressants and use more than prescribed or several different ones at the same time. The belief that more medication is better can lead to antidepressant medication abuse. Antidepressant medication abuse is more common among younger people and older teens.
Antidepressant abuse symptoms mimic some depression symptoms. Antidepressant medication abuse can cause:
- Crying spells
A little more than 18% of the U.S. adult population has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (NIMH). But only approximately 42% of those diagnosed have received treatment in their lifetime. Treatment for anxiety disorder often includes medication. Sometimes anti-depression medications are prescribed to treat people with anxiety. However, benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications) work much faster than antidepressants in treating anxiety disorders.
Anti-anxiety medication abuse happens for lots of reasons. At times, anxiety sufferers use more than prescribed to speed up anxiety symptom relief. By doing so, they set off a cyclical chain reaction of building tolerance and craving more. This cycle of addiction compounds the existing psychiatric disorder, making symptoms worse.
Anti-anxiety medications are also abused by people with no diagnosed psychiatric disorder. People using these medications for nonmedical purposes often "got the prescription drugs they used most recently 'from a friend or relative for free.'" A majority also said that "their friend or relative had obtained the drugs from one doctor."(2009 NSDUH, SAMHSA) Sharing medications and "doctor shopping", though illegal, is a common problem.
Antipsychotic medications are most often prescribed for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. They are also sometimes prescribed to treat bipolar disorder.
Drug and alcohol abuse symptoms can look like the symptoms of schizophrenia. Hallucinations, delusions, memory problems, and disorganized thinking can occur in both. This is how schizophrenics can be mistaken for drug or alcohol addicts.
While researchers don't think drug and alcohol abuse directly causes schizophrenia, schizophrenics are more likely to have a drug or alcohol problem. Marijuana, amphetamines, and cocaine abuse can make schizophrenia symptoms worse, causing a schizophrenic to use more substances, feel worse, use more, leading to a cycle of addiction.
Antipsychotic medication abuse may be an attempt to cope with a spiraling negative emotions and physical symptoms in non-schizophrenics and schizophrenics alike. Dependence on antipsychotic medications can also be a result of long term use. Stopping use suddenly can produce withdrawal symptoms. Some signs and symptoms of antipsychotic medication misuse are:
- Epileptic seizures
- Weight loss
- Perceptual disturbances
Psychiatric medication abuse, though part of an alarming overall trend of prescription drug abuse in the U.S., has remained fairly constant in recent years National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). However, people who suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses may also turn to drugs or alcohol to ease emotional and physical pain. This cyclical relationship is referred to as dual diagnosis, a psychiatric disorder coupled with addiction.
Those who suffer from dual diagnosis look for drugs and alcohol to self-medicate symptoms related to psychiatric issues. The resulting chemical imbalance in the brain worsens and symptoms become exacerbated. More drugs and alcohol are needed in order alleviate psychiatric symptoms. Over time, tolerance to the drugs and alcohol builds within the body.
Using drugs and alcohol negates the effects of psychiatric medications. Psychiatric symptoms worsen with the ingestion of drugs and/or alcohol. Individuals will increase their intake of psychiatric medications for mental health symptoms which have been exacerbated by substance abuse. These individuals are under the false assumption that more psychiatric medication will help decrease symptoms related to substance abuse. There are many risks involved with increasing psychiatric medications along with increasing substance abuse. This vicious cycle continues until the individual realizes that he or she needs addiction treatment.
Not all mental health treatment programs can address addiction. Nor are all drug or alcohol treatment programsable to handle a mental health disorder. A treatment facility that has a quality dual diagnosis program provides both addiction and mental health treatment simultaneously. In a dual diagnosis program, the individual will focus on learning daily living skills for managing mental health issues while learning healthier coping skills to eliminate substance abuse patterns.
A comprehensive medical and clinical evaluation will be needed during the detox process followed by an individualized treatment plan. Detox alone will not solve mental health issues nor address the addictive behavior.
A dual diagnosis treatment program supervised by physicians, nurses, and psychiatrists certified in addiction medicine with an expertise in mental health disorders can provide patients with mental health workshops, life skills, addiction education, medication management, relapse prevention, and aftercare plans necessary for a strong recovery.
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