How do addiction psychiatrists work?

Addictions are complex diseases that require the involvement of health professionals.

Among them, the figure of the psychiatrist stands out, who has theoretical and practical knowledge to offer concrete solutions to people with this class of pathologies.

Through its work, it is possible to intervene both in the functioning of the body at a biomedical level and in the behavior patterns of the person at a psychological level, to leave behind that dependence that damages their health and personal relationships. It is because of that teams specialized in the treatment of addictions have psychiatrists who are experts in this class of disorders. But … how do they work?

What are the main functions of addiction psychiatrists?

This is a summary of the functions performed by trained and specialized psychiatrists in the care of patients with addiction problems.

1. Assessment of signs and symptoms

Addictions are literally health problems, with all that that implies. For this reason, one of the main tasks of psychiatrists specialized in the field of addictions is to carry out medical evaluations in which they take note of the signs and symptoms through which this class of pathologies are reflected in the day-to-day of the patient.

In addition, it is common to request complementary tests to better understand the possible organic causes of the problem suffered by the person; This is a process that the professional is in charge of by contacting the appropriate person through the pre-established channels. These tests include analytics for substances present in the person’s body, neuroimaging tests, etc.

2. Study of contextual factors associated with possible addiction

The vital context of the person, made up of elements such as their family environment or their workplace, is a very important factor in understanding what is happening to them. Both the personal relationships in which he is habitually involved and the spaces to which the patient is exposed can be both a cause and a consequence of his health problem; po much that addictions are pathologies, that does not mean that their scope is restricted to what happens inside the person’s body.

For this reason, both psychologists and psychiatrists specialized in addictions analyze the day-to-day aspects of the patient that may be acting as triggers for consumption, those links that are being more and more damaged by the symptoms that are reflected in their behavior, etc. . Everything to have a global vision of your source of discomfort.

3. Make an assessment of the health status and degree of well-being of the person

Beyond knowing the possible organic causes of the patient’s problem, it is important to assess the degree to which what is affecting him has been making a dent in his health. This will have implications on the priorities to consider when applying a treatment, and will be used to establish the degree of urgency with which to intervene in the symptoms to avoid short-term damage.

4. Carrying out a diagnosis

This is one of the most important functions of psychiatrists specializing in patients with addictions, since at this point it becomes “official” if the person actually suffers from an addiction, what type of addiction it is, and if they present other pathologies (that is, very frequent that those who suffer this kind of alterations also present psychological disorders of an anxious type, or of the mood). In the event that you have developed another disorder, an estimate is also made as to whether the cause has to do with addiction.

5. Treatment planning

The therapeutic intervention plan is always personalized; that is, psychiatrists take into account the clinical “labels” that serve to refer to the disorder that the patient presents, but they also look at the unique characteristics of each person: particularities of your lifestyle, allergies, possible parallel use of psychoactive substances, etc.

6. Execution of treatment

The therapy goes through different phases. In the case of drug addictions, at the beginning there is a detoxification phase in which the person is helped to stop the substance from circulating through his body, giving him support against the withdrawal syndrome. In addition, depending on the type of substance he was consuming, he is made to follow the necessary guidelines so that the withdrawal of the drug does not endanger his health (in some cases the cessation of consumption cannot be abrupt, since his nervous system has used to working with it).

In the later phases of therapy the person is helped to cope with the emotional cognitive phenomena that can trigger a relapse: thoughts that are tempting, habits that lead you to expose yourself a lot to those who spend a good part of their time consuming, search for new sources of gratification, anxiety management, etc.

7. Follow-up

When the patient has already gone through the most difficult part and has managed to achieve a good level of autonomy without resorting to what was causing the addiction, follow-up sessions are offered. These meetings serve both to resolve sweats and to prevent relapses and to obtain a global notion of the progress made, contributing to self-motivation and the defense of that healthy lifestyle.

Are you looking for addiction treatment?

If you think you have developed an addiction problem, it is important that you go to health professionals as soon as possible. In CITA Clinics We specialize in the treatment of addictions and the pathologies associated with them, and our team has spent decades dedicating itself to this field of intervention in patients.

Our psychiatrists and psychologists offer coverage for all phases of treatment, and we also have facilities adapted for short, medium and long-term income: we have a fully equipped residential module located in a place where nature and nature predominate. calm, near the city of Barcelona.

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association (APA). (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Ashery, RS; Robertson, EB; and Kumpfer, KL; (Eds.) (1998): Drug Abuse Prevention Through Family Interventions. NIDA Research Monograph, No. 177. Washington, DC: US ​​Government Printing Office.
  • Kalivas, PW; Volkow, ND (2005). The neural basis of addiction: a pathology of motivation and choice. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 162 (8): pp. 1403-1413.
  • Moonat, S; Pandey, SC (2012). Stress, epigenetics, and alcoholism. Alcohol Research: Current Reviews. 34 (4): pp. 495-505.
  • Nutt, DJ; King, LA; Phillips, LD (2010). Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis. The Lancet, 376 (9752): pp. 1558-1565.
  • Semple, D. (2005): Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Volkow, ND; Fowler JS; Wang, GJ; Swanson JM; Telang, F. (2007). Dopamine in drug abuse and addiction: results of imaging studies and treatment implications. Arch. Neurol. 64 (11): pp. 1575-1579.


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