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Let's Talk: Substance Dependency

What is drug addiction?

  • Drug addiction is a form of substance dependency, in which the patient finds himself or herself unable to stop taking illegal drugs. Drugs may be categorized either as stimulants (that hype you up), sedatives (to calm you down), narcotics (to deaden you off), and psychedelics (to take you out of this world.)

 

Why should drug addiction be treated?

  • One form of illegal drugs commonly taken by drug addicts is shabu. Medical studies show that shabu may cause serious but hidden damage to the heart, brain and other body organs. At LCRC, a complete medical examination is done to uncover any physical damage resulting from the use of shabu. Appropriate medical care and treatment is paramount in such cases. Shabu causes chemical imbalances in the brain that result in suspiciousness, paranoia, hot-headedness, hallucinations, and other unusual attitudes, moods and behaviors.

 

How does LCRC treat drug addiction?

  • LCRC relies on Psychiatric treatment to restore the drug addicted patient’s chemical balance in the brain so that the person can think and act without any mental or behavioral disturbances. Healing of the patient is composed of physical healing, psychiatric healing, emotional/psychological healing, family healing, and spiritual healing.

  • The first phase of treatment for drug dependents is a 2-week Detoxification Program that allows the drug addicted patient to gradually be detoxified of the drugs he had been taking. The second phase is a 6-month Addiction Recovery Program wherein the family of the patient is encouraged to participate. The third phase is the 1-month Aftercare Volunteer Program. These three phases are part of the wholistic Life Transformation Program whose desired end result is to facilitate deep and meaningful changes in the personality of the patient.

 

Can drug addicts be re-integrated into society?

  • Yes, drug addicted patients can be re-integrated into society. Psychiatric treatment restores the chemical balance in the patient’s brain – thus allowing the patient to think and act without barriers such as mental or behavioral disturbances. Through counseling at LCRC, the drug addict learns to confront, deal with, and resolve personal and emotional problems without having to resort to drugs. Family counseling allows damaged familial relationships to be repaired and permits family members to learn how to deal with their loved one (the patient.) And spiritual healing is encouraged through spiritual activities such as bible studies which help the patient to open up his heart to God and commit to live a God-centered lifestyle rather than a drug-addicted lifestyle. Dr. Randy Dellosa notes that the drug dependents who go through the program and succeed in graduating rarely relapse. And even when they do, the LCRC staff help the patient recover from his mistakes so that the relapse becomes more of a learning experience than a symptom of an addictive disease, says Dr. Dellosa.

 

What is alcoholism?

  • Alcoholism is another form of substance dependency wherein the patient is also unable to stop consuming vast amounts of liquor or alcohol. Alcohol may be considered a sedative type of substance because it is taken to achieve a soothing feeling.

 

Why should alcoholism be treated?

  • While drinking a small amount of alcohol is generally not harmful for most people, but alcoholism is or “Alcoholdependence” can be a physical problem, or psychological, or both. Excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to liver and lung damage, and may cause many other internal illnesses that could lead to death.

 

How does LCRC treat alcoholism?

  • Treatment of alcoholism at LCRC begins with a 2-week Detoxification program. This phase is relatively painless because medication is administered that allows the patient to sleep for long periods of time. As Dr. Randy Dellosa of LCRC explains, it is dangerous- even life threatening – to let the patient go “cold turkey” (complete abstinence from the substance being abused) without the medication. The medication is also necessary so that chemical imbalances in the brain of patients can be corrected gradually. The patient then undergoes a six-month Addiction Recovery Program. Under the Addiction Recovery Program, the alcoholic patient is weaned from his craving for alcohol (or liquor.) The patient is also encouraged to avoid situations and people that contribute to the craving for alcohol. The family of the patient takes part in this six-month program. The last phase is the one-month Aftercare Volunteer Program.

 

Schizophrenia and How to Treat It

You may have heard about schizophrenia before through anecdotes and stories about famous schizophrenics such as Dr. John Nash. Dr. Nash is the inspiration for the movie “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russell Crowe. However, it is astonishing to find that many people do not really know what schizophrenia is and what its effects are on the patient.

 

What is schizophrenia? What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

  • First of all, schizophrenia is not the same as having a split personality or multiple personality. A patient with schizophrenia may have delusions (which are beliefs about false ideas) – for instance, Dr. Nash believed he was being contacted by aliens from outer space to set up a new world government. A schizophrenic could hear voices or see images – these are called hallucinations. Other symptoms that a schizophrenic can experience could be feeling agitated (wherein the patient is anxious and restless); feeling paranoid (when the patient thinks that someone or something is out to get him even when there is no evidence that this is so); extreme feelings of anger; being impulsive (meaning the patient does things without considering the consequences); and experiencing disorganized thoughts (wherein the thoughts in the patient’s head are of a confused and unclear variety.) All these form what are known as positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

  • There are also negative symptoms of schizophrenia. For instance, a schizophrenic could be afflicted with anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure; having a flat expression, meaning the patient is devoid of any emotional expression when it is normal to have them; being withdrawn from social groups including family and friends; and not being motivated to pursue daily normal activities, such as going without bathing for some time.

 

What causes schizophrenia?

  • A patient is said to have schizophrenia if at least 2 of these symptoms have been observed in the patient for at least one month. Unfortunately, it is not yet clear at this time what directly causes schizophrenia although research suggests that schizophrenia could be passed on through genetics. There is also some evidence to show that the brain of the patient could have an imbalance of chemicals and/or abnormal structures within the brain itself. The environment of the patient may also help in the development of symptoms of schizophrenia.

 

Do schizophrenics become violent?

  • Schizophrenics do not usually become violent, and tend to prefer to be by themselves. Of course, if the schizophrenic is also a substance abuser then the tendency to become violent goes up. In the case of paranoid schizophrenia, if the patient becomes violent the outburst is generally directed at relatives/family members and occurs in the home setting. There are also cases when the schizophrenic will try to commit suicide – one study says that schizophrenics try to kill themselves more often than members of the general population. It is difficult to anticipate when a schizophrenic will try to commit suicide so caregivers should always be on the alert to catch the suicide attempt before the patient succeeds.

 

What happens when a schizophrenic takes drugs or alcohol?

  • It should also be noted that schizophrenics often abuse drugs and/or alcohol which makes the symptoms of schizophrenia worse and reduces the effectiveness of treatment. However, drug and alcohol abuse do not cause schizophrenia in themselves. Usually, the substance abused by schizophrenic is nicotine (through cigarette smoking.) Nicotine is known to reduce the effectivenss of antipsychotic drugs, so a schizophrenic who smokes may have to be given more doses of his medication.

 

How prevalent is schizophrenia?

  • Schizophrenia afflicts both men and women, but the onset of symptoms slightly differs for each. Men generally develop schizophrenic symptoms starting in their late teens and up to their early 20′s. Women tend to start exhibiting symptoms when they are in their mid-20′s up to their early 30′s.

  • Schizophrenia is more common in the world population than you might have thought – one estimate states that around 51 million people have developed schizophrenia already. In the US alone, around 100,000 new cases crop up annually.

 

How is schizophrenia treated?

  • To treat schizophrenia, the patient needs to consume or be injected with the appropriate medicine. These medicines can be divided into conventional antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics, and long-acting injectable antipsychotics. Conventional antipsychotics have been around since the 1950s and are used to counter positive symptoms. Atypical antipsychotics were produced in the 1990s and are used against positive and negative symptoms. These two drug categories come in pill form and are drunk by the patient. The long-acting injectable antipsychotics, on the other hand, are delivered by syringe, preferably to patients who find it difficult to take their pills daily.

 

Do anti-schizophrenia drugs cause side effects?

  • Although drug companies are working hard to produce newer and better forms of anti-schizophrenia drugs, sometimes it cannot be avoided that the drugs themselves produce side effects in the patient. Some patients may be more sensitive to side effects than others, so it is vital that the doctor prescribing the medicine work closely with the patient to find the right medicine that the patient is comfortable taking.

  • At the same time, the doctor of the schizophrenic may advise the patient to undergo other complementary forms of treatment such as vocational, physiological, and psychological interventions.

 

Is there a cure for schizophrenia?

  • If you suspect that your relative or friend has schizophrenia, do seek professional help immediately. The sooner the patient is under treatment, the better the outlook for his future will be. You should be forewarned though that there is no cure for schizophrenia – but the symptoms of schizophrenia can be controlled and managed through medication.

 

What is Bipolar Disorder and How Can It Be Treated?

It has been observed that many people mistake bipolar disorder for schizophrenia, and vice versa. Although both are conditions of the brain, bipolar disorder might be better known as manic depression. The reason it is called bipolar disorder is that the patient undergoes extreme mood swings ranging from the manic phase when mood is elevated to a state of depression. There is no clear pattern of these mood changes, so a doctor who suspects the patient has bipolar disorder should observe the patient closely to see the pattern of the mood changes.

 

Most patients who have bipolar disorder suffer from a depressive state more often than the manic state. But there are times when the symptoms of bipolar disorder are so vague and subtle that it may prove difficult to accurately diagnose the condition. There are also patients who have bipolar disorder in tandem with other conditions such as attention problems, substance misuse, and anxiety disorders – it becomes harder to come to the diagnosis of bipolar disorder when such conditions are present.

 

What is hypomania? How does it differ from mania?

  • Hypomania is the term to describe the altered mood state wherein the patient suffers from the mild form of mania and extends to the heightened form of mania. The state of hypomania can be observed for just a few days but may also be prolonged over a period of many months. Because the symptoms of mania and hypomania are so similar, it might be hard to accurately differentiate hypomania from mania. Mania is said to be more debilitating then hypomania. It is important to find out if the patient is in a state of hypomania because this could be a sign that the patient is on the way to experience a more heightened manic episode, or (in the extreme opposite) that the patient will soon “crash” and enter a state of depression.

  • To simplify it, mania is more severe than hypomania. If a patient keeps on experiencing hypomania, the condition could become mania with negative results. Some signs that the patient is undergoing mania are if he becomes irritable, undergoes elevated mood, and suffers from impaired judgement. It is notable that patients in a manic phase of bipolar disorder often do not think anything is wrong with them and may feel like they are on top of the world.

 

When is a bipolar disorder patient depressed?

  • A bipolar disorder patient is said to be undergoing depression, on the other hand, if the depressive state lasts for more than two weeks. A doctor can note down the symptoms of depression to come up with the diagnosis – one key symptom is the reduction or absence of pleasure in those activities the patient used to enjoy. This could be accompanied by feelings of pessimism, hopelessness and sadness as well as physical symptoms like changes in appetite, reduced energy level, and a reduced ability to concentrate and memorize. It is not necessary for the patient to experience all these symptoms for the doctor to come up with the diagnosis of depression. It should also be noted that all people come to experience feelings of sadness at some point in their life, but that does not automatically mean the patient is depressed or has bipolar disorder.

 

What is the difference between unipolar disorder and bipolar disorder?

  • At this point, you should be made aware that bipolar disorder is different from unipolar disorder. They are similar because they are both mood disorders but a person with unipolar disorder will suffer only from depression, while a patient with bipolar disorder will suffer from a cycle of depression alternating with periods of mania.

 

What are the four different subtypes of bipolar disorder?

  • The condition of bipolar disorder can be sub-classified into four different subtypes. These are Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymia, and bipolar NOS.

  • When a patient has undergone more than one manic episode, he is said to suffer from Bipolar I. This means the patient usually experiences both mania and depression.

  • When a patient experiences a minimum of one hypomanic episode, he is said to fall under Bipolar II. (Note that the patient does not proceed to a full manic episode when he is Bipolar II.)

  • When a patient has undergone moods which are abnormally low or high (for half of one year if the patient is a child or adolescent, and half of at least two years if the patient is an adult), then the patient is said to have cyclothymia. The patient should have experienced hypomania yet no completely depressive or manic episodes. This is another form of bipolar disorder, in which the patient may experience normal moods but these take place over less than eight weeks.

  • A patient is said to fall under the last type of bipolar disorder which is Bipolar NOS if he is not classified under the first three types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar NOS means “not otherwise specified”. Another term used in place of Bipolar NOS is “atypical bipolar” disorder.

  • (One type of bipolar disorder you may not be familiar with is called “postpartum onset” bipolar disorder and is experienced by women after childbirth.)

 

What causes bipolar disorder?

  • Bipolar disorder is a more common disorder than you may think. In the US, around 10 million people already have bipolar disorder. But bipolar disorder afflicts both men and women without any tendency for one gender alone. Still, genetics is believed to play a part in development of bipolar disorder because the condition tends to run in families. There is hope though – just because one member of your family has the condition does not automatically mean you will develop bipolar disorder. Environmental factors may also make a person predisposed to developing the illness.

 

When does a patient first come down with bipolar disorder?

  • A person will usually develop bipolar disorder prior to age 35, but the condition can crop up at any point in a person’s life. The people who are most at risk for developing bipolar disorder are those in the 15-25 year age bracket. There is no clear pattern of when a person will suffer from depression and mania and then shift to a normal mood, even with respect to individual patients. If a patient is allowed to experience the manic-depressive cycle without treatment, remission becomes remote and the condition tends to worsen.

 

How is bipolar disorder treated?

  • A word of caution to those people who already have bipolar disorder:a person with bipolar disorder is more at risk of developing at least two additional psychiatric disorders as well. Some of these additional psychiatric disorders are migraine headaches, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bulimia, substance abuse, alcoholism, and anxiety disorders. A doctor who sees that the patient has multiple disorders has to be careful about treating all the disorders since treatment for one kind of disorder may worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder in the process. But it is accepted that treating bipolar disorder tends to improve the symptoms of the additional disorders as well.

  • Abuse of substances like drugs and alcohol makes treatment of bipolar disorder more dangerous. A bipolar disorder patient who is also a substance abuser is at risk for more frequent relapses, more suicide attempts, and even death.

  • The biggest risk that a bipolar disorder patient has to face is the possibility of treatment being absent or denied, or refused by the patient himself. One reason a patient may refuse to be treated is that the symptoms of the manic phase may become desirable. Another risk that bipolar patients have to face is the possibility of attempting suicide when depressed.

  • Treatment for bipolar disorder does not encompass medication alone. A treatment plan for a patient should include psychotherapy, support systems, stress management, education about bipolar disorder and lifestyle changes to stack the odds for remission on the side of the patient. There is no cookie-cutter treatment plan – each patient should have a treatment plan designed for his case alone to maximize treatment benefits.

 

OPENING HOURS

At LCRC staff members are in the office and available most weekdays.

ADDRESS

105 Scout Rallos Street

Kamuning, Brgy. Sacred Heart, Quezon City

lifechange.lcrc@gmail.com

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