Who are addiction psychiatrists?
As addiction continues to become an out-of-control problem, there have had to be specialists that have had to treat them in order for them to get the proper help that they’ve needed. Regular psychiatrists just don’t offer them the specialized help that they need. This is how addiction psychiatrists and dual diagnosis psychiatrists came about and have come to exist in the world of medicine. Evolution comes when there comes a need for something, and there was definitely a need for addiction psychiatrists. Just ask those who were struggling with addiction before and were trying to get their help from a regular psychiatrist. The help just wasn’t the same. It was not catered enough to their needs.
Addiction psychiatrists specialize in the marginalized population of people that are struggling to get out of an addiction. They are treated differently because of the rewiring they’ve already done to their brain that may make them treatment-resistant to certain medications. For instance, if someone sees an addiction psychiatrist who has been abusing Xanax for years but also has underlying anxiety, they have to take special measures as to how they’re going to treat them for anxiety, probably by prescribing them something different, like Neurontin or Propranolol, which are non-addictive substances that can still address the root core of their problem but not further exacerbate their addiction. What they are essentially dealing with is a dual diagnosis. Let’s jump into that here.
What is a dual diagnosis?
A dual diagnosis is when you have a mental illness and a substance abuse problem you use to manage that mental illness. Therefore, it takes someone more specialized, like an addiction psychiatrist, to address the root of the problem. What they might do is take a holistic, slow approach and get them off the drugs they’re on slowly or simply make them fill out a questionnaire as to how they feel when they’re not on the drug. For instance, when dealing with a meth addict, they may ask the addict how they felt before they started using meth. The addict may say they felt sluggish, unmotivated, bored, and empty. Therefore, the addiction psychiatrist might start to think the reason they reached out for the meth was to self-medicate a clinical depression. They may put them on anti-depressants they know wouldn’t interfere with meth, in case their patient relapsed, and monitor their progress here.
Dual diagnoses are hard to treat because in many cases, a person has been using drugs so long that it is hard to find out what the original problem was in the first place. Or, their brain has been permanently rewired by all the drug use, that the addiction psychiatrist has to be careful what they add so that the patient does not become psychotic. As mentioned above, there’s always the risk that the patient may relapse on the drug they’re already using, so it is crucial to match them with a drug that won’t interfere with that substance. Sometimes, there are none, so the psychiatrist truly has to wait until the patient has earned their trust and they can work together to get on something once they’ve proven they’re clean.
How are addiction psychiatrists different than other psychiatrists?
Other psychiatrists are often afraid to treat drug addicts or those struggling with alcoholism because they aren’t necessarily trained in that and they are afraid of the adverse effects of drug combinations. They know a little bit about dual diagnosis, but unlike addiction psychiatrists, it is not their specialty. They mainly deal with people that come with them with pure mental illnesses that they are able to treat, which is a challenge in itself already. And they do not take a holistic approach that addiction psychiatrists recommend.
Also, addiction psychiatrists get a lot more training in substance abuse than regular psychiatrists too. They understand the mindset of an addict, which helps them know which pills to prescribe them and which pills not to prescribe them. An addict may go from a regular psychiatrist to an addiction psychiatrist who may shake their head at the list of medications they’ve been on because they know it’s only exacerbated or could possible make their symptoms and codependency worse. This is why it’s very good that they’ve stepped in- to stop the avalanche of further chaos and a downward spiral.
A holistic approach is one that incorporates more factors than simply than one when treating someone. Whereas a normal psychiatrist may try to do this, they often fail to, as they are simply focused on brain chemistry and aligning what is on and making it work again. With an addiction psychiatrist, they are more focused on making sure that everything is going right in the patient’s life and that they are attending groups, eating right, sleeping right, and everything else. They make sure that things are holistically well to ensure that their progress is successful. This is a keystone difference in how they make sure that their technique for making sure the addiction stays away for good and that the underlying root of the problem can adequately be treated.
Because addiction is still such an overwhelming problem, regular psychiatry hasn’t been enough to address the needs of addicts. This is why addiction psychiatry has come about, to make sure that addicts and those essentially suffering from dual diagnosis are being helped. A dual diagnosis is when one suffers with mental illness but also struggles with a drug addiction. These are the population of people addiction psychiatrists help out. They help them address the root of the problem while giving them some aid tapering off the substance that they are addicted to. For instance, there is a type of medication that helps stop the craving of alcohol for alcoholics, that once taken enough, could help the psychiatrist pinpoint the root of the problem. What do you think of the revolutionary world of addiction psychiatry, in its conjunction with a holistic approach?