Psychiatrist for Addiction - Substance Abuse - SUD
As the name implies, substance use disorder occurs when a patient cannot stop using drugs or alcohol even though they have a detrimental effect on their life. Criteria for having the disorder include: cravings for the substance, being unable to stop using substances even though you want to stop, letting other activities fall by the wayside, damaged relationships due to substance use, countless other life problems brought about by an inability to stop using drugs or alcohol.
Substance abuse is a growing concern, and Bregman Medical Group is ready to meet the challenge.
Are you looking for a “psychiatrist for addiction near me” to help with your addiction symptoms?
Bregman Medical Group is here for you! We are located in Coral Gables, Florida where we have helped patients recover and manage their mental health disorders, including substance use disorder. We also offer Telepsychiatry and Teletherapy (Talk Therapy) services so you can access and talk with our mental health professionals without leaving your home.
Request for a one-on-one appointment now.
What Is Addiction/ Substance Use Disorder (SUD)?
Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is when patients use certain substances or drugs excessively and cannot control it despite the harmful effects on their lives.
Addiction is a kind of disorder that worsens over time. For example, people may begin taking a substance (such as alcohol) or a recreational drug during social situations and may feel it harmless at the start. However, there are people who get hooked on it with continued use, and they may gradually want to increase their dosage or intake to get more high.
Addiction can be a life-threatening condition. It is a serious problem because it alters the brain structure of patients where they develop compulsions to take the drug. Thus, a person suffering from addiction cannot just simply stop taking the drug, even if one wants to.
Addiction psychiatry is the subspecialty of psychiatry that deals with the diagnosis and treatment of substance use disorders or addiction.
What Are The Most Commonly Abused Substances?
Many drugs and substances are misused today. Below are the commonly abused drugs in the U.S.:
Opioids are usually used in healthcare settings to help relieve patients of pain by attaching to and activating receptors in the body to inhibit pain transmission. People with opioid addiction are in critical danger of medical complications and overdose. Some examples of opioids are morphine, hydrocodone, and the illegal drug heroin.
Excessive alcohol intake is the most common SUD in the U.S. It causes multiple physical health problems, as well as developing a tolerance for it, being unable to control your intake, and exhibiting withdrawal symptoms. Many people also take other drugs while they have an addiction to alcohol.
Stimulants help a person be more alert and attentive as they increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. An example of stimulants is amphetamines which are usually prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Cocaine is also another example of a stimulant sometimes used medically for anesthetic purposes but is illegal for recreational use.
When misused, stimulants can cause a person to have a dangerously high heart rate, experience seizures, and psychosis. During an overdose, they can also experience heart failure.
Tobacco contains nicotine, an addictive substance that is present when smoking cigarettes. This is why people who smoke or vape find it hard to quit. Addiction to smoking tobacco can lead to multiple health complications. In the U.S. alone there are 480,000 deaths each year related to cigarette smoking, according to the CDC.
Hallucinogens are usually extracted from plants and mushrooms or they can be synthetic. These are drugs that induce hallucinations in a person by changing a person’s perception of his surroundings and feelings. Some examples are LSD and PCP.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is taken from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa which contains a chemical called THC. Smoking THC alters one’s senses making them feel “high” in the short term, and may also have long-term effects on a person’s brain development.
So How Does Addiction Affect You?
Many drugs work differently, but they generally affect your brain’s reward center and other drugs mimic neurotransmitters in our bodies. Drugs can affect brain development especially for young people like adolescents whose brains are not yet fully developed.
Drugs result in a surge of dopamine that is part of the brain’s limbic system which makes a person feel “high”. Because the brain finds the activity pleasurable, the person would want to repeat the activity again and again. Thus, dopamine reinforces the person with the desire to take the drugs.
People who use drugs regularly also develop a tolerance towards them. After some time, the brain tries to adjust to the abnormal surges of dopamine or the neurons may make less dopamine, while other neurons die. Less dopamine means less feeling of being “high” so a person will want to increase their intake.
Addiction: Signs and Symptoms
The DSM-5 classifies 4 categories of substance use disorder symptoms. These are:
- Impaired control
- Physical dependence on the substance or drug
- Problems in relationships
- Risky use of the substance or drug
Of the 4 addiction categories, they can be in the form of:
- Using a substance longer than and more than intended
- Trying to stop the substance abuse on your own, but being unable to
- Having intense cravings to take the substance
- Needing a higher dosage or intake of the substance to get the desired effect (tolerance)
- Having withdrawal symptoms when unable to use the substance
- Allotting more time to obtain, use or recover from the substance use
- Neglect of work, home, or school responsibilities because of the substance use
- Continuing to use the substance despite it causing problems in your relationships with others
- No longer attending social and recreational activities due to the substance use
- Using substances in risky settings that can be a danger to you
- Choosing to use the substance despite it causing problems to your physical and mental health
In addition to the list of symptoms above, substance use disorder has three levels of severity: mild, moderate, or severe depending on how many of the symptoms the person presents.
For example, an individual is considered At-Risk when they present one symptom; has a mild level of severity for two to three symptoms; moderate for four to five; and severe level for six or more symptoms present.
If you or your loved one are experiencing the addiction symptoms above, we can help you.
Schedule an appointment with a licensed psychiatrist here.
Who Are At Risk of Addiction?
Biological and environmental factors may make a person more prone to developing an addiction than others.
Biological Factors of Addiction
Mental Illness - People with other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety may be more at risk of developing a substance use disorder. They are at a greater risk of abusing the drugs that they are taking because it makes them feel better, or they may start misusing substances such as alcohol to help them cope. Some mental illnesses also affect a person’s brain circuits just as addiction to drugs and substances.
Age - Young adults and teenagers are more at risk of developing substance use disorder because they are more likely to take risky behaviors. Teenagers are especially at greater risk because the part of the brain responsible for judgment and decision-making is not yet fully developed.
Gender - According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, men are more likely to abuse illegal drugs and prescription drugs compared to women.
Genetics - If you have a family member with a history of a mental illness (including addiction), you are also at greater risk of developing the disorder. However, it’s important to remember that this does not mean you will always develop one.
Environmental Factors of Addiction
Home Environment - A peaceful and loving home environment is important for children to have a proper upbringing. Children who come from abusive homes or experience neglect from family members are at a greater risk of developing an addiction. In addition, having a family member who struggles with a drug addiction can increase a person’s likelihood to develop it.
Peer pressure - Teenagers try out drugs or alcohol in social situations where they are pressured by their friends even if they don’t want to. The likelihood for substance use disorder greatly increases the younger the person starts to take drugs. So, it’s important to choose friends who don’t pressure you to take drugs and for parents to monitor their children’s circle of friends, especially for teens.
Other stressors - Some people who experience emotional distress are more prone to develop an addiction when they try out drugs or alcohol to help them cope with their stressful situation or trauma.
If you would like to know more about addiction, our staff can help you.
How Is Addiction Diagnosed?
Substance abuse is diagnosed by mental health professionals (such as an addiction psychiatrist or addiction specialists) using the criteria provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders (DSM-5). The doctor may also request laboratory tests such as urine and blood exams to help assess the patient’s drug use.
Addiction Treatment Options
Addiction is a chronic disorder, and the earlier you seek treatment, the sooner you can begin healing. A person can overcome the challenges through different addiction treatment options that can be tailored to the individual. Addiction treatment programs also depend on the substance or drug that is being misused.
Treatments can be for outpatients or inpatients. Generally, psychiatrists use therapy and medications to successfully manage addiction symptoms.
Behavioral Therapy for Addiction
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - the focus of CBT is to help a patient prevent relapse by helping you identify your dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors and to change them. Your addiction psychiatrist will help you learn different life skills to gradually stop your substance abuse and manage your stress and triggers better. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is typically used for addictions with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, and nicotine.
Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy - Thoughts affect emotions, and emotions affect actions. In REBT, an addiction psychiatrist will focus on helping patients to identify negative and unhealthy thoughts, and to challenge the validity of those thoughts. Your therapist will help you develop healthier thoughts which will make you manage your emotions better and develop better relationships with others.
An addiction psychiatrist also uses medication in treating a patient’s withdrawal symptoms. For example, the drug methadone is used to help decrease withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to opioids. Combining behavioral therapy with medicine is very effective in helping treat substance use disorders.
Self-help Groups for Addiction
There are many self-help groups that focus on addicts. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous, the popular self-help group for alcoholics, developed and used the 12-step program as a therapy for people with addiction to cope well. It involves acceptance of their addiction and submitting their condition to a higher power. They are also encouraged to attend ongoing group sessions to continue their recovery and prevent relapse. The 12-step method is also being used by a lot of other self-help support groups.
This is when you stop taking the drug or substance that you are addicted to. For severe cases, it’s best to detox in rehab or treatment facilities where you have the proper guidance and support from your doctor and other health care provider.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does treatment for SUD last?
There is no perfect length of treatment that applies to everyone because each person is different. However, at least 90 days or more may be best for outpatient or residential addiction treatment. For medical maintenance, the minimum length of treatment is 12 months.
It is important to remember that addiction is a chronic disease and regular attendance of individual or group therapy will help prevent relapse.
How can I help someone diagnosed with SUD?
If you have a family member struggling with substance abuse disorders or with a comorbid mental health disorder, you can offer support and encouragement. Family therapy is very effective in helping patients stay in treatment, especially for teenagers. During family therapy, the psychiatrist, with his years of training, works with the patient along with a loved one to help the patient develop healthier habits and coping styles.
Can you prevent substance use disorder?
Yes! Many protective factors are important in the prevention of substance use disorders. Families who provide children a stable home environment with clear structures, rules, and consequences will help children grow into well-balanced adults.
Since adolescents are more prone to peer pressure and trying out novel things, it would be best for parents to educate them early about the effects of drugs. It’s good to take an interest in your child’s peer relationships and school life; allow open communication at home to let children know that they can always come to you for any problems or fears.
Psychiatrist for Addiction
At Bregman Medical Group, our team of addiction specialists and mental health professionals has years of practice dealing with patients with addiction. We care for you. Let us share our expertise to help you on your journey towards your mental health recovery.
If you think you or your loved one have a substance use disorder, take action now!