The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Counselor tells NE students about addiction

By Andrew Good/reporter

A serious look was taken Nov. 13 into the complex, but treatable plight of society known as chemical addiction.

Dr. Hadi Tajani, Deborah Sweat, a registered nurse and Sandra Anderson, a licensed professional counselor, members of Harris Methodist Springwood Hospital staff, visited NE Campus to update psychiatry professionals and students in Chemical Dependency: Addiction Treatment Updates.

“ The best programs provide a combination of services that is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient,” Tajani said.

He said the abuse of different substances will require various approaches to help treat each individual case.

“ With certain drugs such as alcohol or amphetamines, it is better to completely be clean,” he said. “With cannabis, however, we mainly go for an outpatient program.”

Regarding the standard period of time one completes a treatment program, Tajani said 3 months is usually effective.

Tajani also explained the role of encouragement through the treatment process.

“ The step in the acute phase is to get the family involved,” he said. “Support groups are invaluable for relapse prevention.”

Another large role played in relapse prevention is that of medication such as Campral, which he said is effective 50 percent of the time depending on motivation, and Suboxone, which has no serious side effects for the user.

When referencing whether using Suboxone is just replacing one drug with another, he said, “It is an opiate but is a totally different molecule, so the effect is totally different.”

He also said that there is no legal problem when using prescribed medication.

Sweat spoke primarily on the effects of addiction in women.

“ Women are impacted by addiction differently than men,” she said.

She said that since women have lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase, they become intoxicated faster than men.

“ For a woman, a single drink of alcohol acts as a double,” she said, “a woman’s body contains less water and more fatty tissue, which increases alcohol absorption, compared to a male’s body.”

Sweat said more professional women are drinking after work and mothers with young children are drinking more often at home.

“ When we factor in the effects on children, it adds on a different dimension,” she said.

Sweat listed a variety of impacts ranging from birth defects to fetal alcohol syndrome and from premature birth to learning and developmental problems such as attention deficit disorder.

She also discussed reasons why women will not seek help.

“ Pregnant women … have guilt about its affects on their pregnancy,“ she said, “Women face barriers to treatment with childcare for lack of social and family support.”

Women have been encouraged to self-medicate for emotional and physical symptoms of the hormone cycle, Sweat said. She then pointed out factors that complicate treatment.

“ Physicians prescribe twice as many psychotropic medications for women as for men, and many are refilled for decades,” she said.

Denial is the result of the authoritative atmosphere given off by their over-prescribing physicians, Sweat said.

Treatment options include inpatient detoxification treatment and intensive outpatient day programs.

“ Inpatient acute hospitalization is reserved for the most severely impaired patients and is dependent on the patient’s progress,” she said. “And twelve step programs focus on disease concept and relapse prevention.”

Anderson, who has 16 years of experience in mental health, focused on the assessment of the patient in crisis.

“ We prevent suicide with awareness of risk factors, treatment and education resources, and of our role as healthcare providers,” she said.

The single biggest factor is the presence of a major depressive episode with 56 percent of patients with major depressive disorders reporting passive suicidal ideation and 40 percent reporting thoughts of actually killing themselves, Anderson said.

Other risk factors include delusional thinking, command hallucinations, extreme mania and drug-induced psychotic disorders.

“ Sometimes I will see this with methamphetamines, where they will have auditory hallucinations and they hear somebody telling them to kill themselves,” she said.

Getting a good history from the patient is important, and an efficient way to achieve that is through using formatted assessment tools, Anderson said.

“ When you see someone planning to commit suicide, there is an elevation of mood because it is a release of their problems,” she said.

If the person remains alive, then there must be a will to live and a possibility for change, Anderson said.

The seminar was sponsored by the NE Campus student activities.

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