Occupational Therapy And Substance Abuse

Occupational therapy enhances the way and quality of living of patients and individuals of who have been unfortunate enough to contract illnesses suffer injuries, and disabilities. It could be on a mental aspect or even on a physical aspect. An extensive body of knowledge is required in order to fully tackle the head on the therapeutic process of this field. Patients who have repeatedly had a history of substance abuse may have their social, occupational, and cognitive functions are severely impaired.

Through the use of occupational therapy as a tool, an occupational therapist can effective help change; as well as modify the current destructive. Albeit a harmful lifestyle of the individual, an occupational therapist can make it a more accepted and productive one. Occupational therapy has evolved and throughout the twentieth century and has clear cut definition of its application as a therapy process. A myriad of approaches can be used in order to ascertain rehabilitation approaches due to the subjective case of each patient.

This paper discusses the roles of an occupational therapist. The aspects of substance abuse disorders will be tackled as well; and also the correlation of substance abuse disorder or drug abuse with HIV/AIDS (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008). Occupational therapy is a rehabilitation technique to enable to enhance and assist affected people in attaining a well, healthy, and balanced way of life. Occupational therapists guide those who need to re-learn and/or acquire skills that would help them in their day-to-day life.

An occupational therapist must know the two major components of the occupational therapy theory. The principles and the concept are the components of occupational therapy. The occupational therapist can clarify specific issues with a client; validates and guides the therapy practice; and educates and enhances the growth and professionalism of the said field and its members. Such theory is a working knowledge in process in which it is linked to the practice of occupational therapy.

With this in mind, the frames of reference of occupational therapy emerge, which enables the occupational therapist to create a program specific to the patients’ needs. Furthermore it will serve as guide to primary care givers to clients. An occupational therapist must know the components of a frame of reference in occupational therapy which includes: 1. )a theoretical base statement from which frame has been derived from 2. ) An extensive description of the processes, steps, and methods to evaluate the individual’s progress on a specific dysfunction to have a fully functional continuum.

3. ) A continuum which clearly defines the main attributes of the dysfunction and function, and 4. ) the prescriptive steps needed to be the benchmark of the therapist and tackling the patient and the environment that they are in (Casper College, 2000). The theory base for the cognitive frame of reference would be on neurological science; cognitive psychology; bio-psychiatry; and information processes. The major dysfunction of this theory base would result with the restriction of the patients’ ability to process routine tasks.

Using the Allen cognitive level assessment and routine tasks inventory would assess the extent of the function and dysfunction. Mostly medications; interventions by occupational therapy can amend and influence the patient to perform once difficult routine tasks. Around the 1970’s, uniform technology was developed and had pointed the different aspects of reporting and segregated into three parts: Performance areas, Performance components, and Performance contexts.

Daily activities, productive work activities, leisure and play activities are under the performance area. Performance concepts are the basic skills and abilities for the patient to accomplish an activity, and there are three categories and they are: sensory-motor component (including awareness and the process of stimuli, neuromuscular, and motor components); psychological components; cognitive integration; psychosocial skill components; and cognitive components.

Occupational therapists assess their course of action along side with the person seeking assistance, enabling them to focusing on the abilities and other problems that they may face during the course of their therapy. They need to plan the term of the treatment – it may be long term or short term which should fit life-style, preferences; of the occupational therapists’ charge. Intervention is a key in which the occupational therapists’ needs to use in order for their charge to acquire new physical, social, and mental skills.

This also includes teaching the charge to adapt with new found skills that they acquire throughout the duration of the therapy. For success to follow, cooperation is needed on both parties. Other parties are also included with this sphere of influence such as family members amongst others in order to have a fully holistic approach for the care of the patient. The occupational therapist should seek to understand their patients to fully harness the patients’ abilities. They need to take into account performance context which has two main aspects – temporal and environmental.

Level of disability, patients’ age, and developmental stage are taken note of for temporal aspect. Environmental aspect includes the social, cultural, and physical environment that the patient is in. The next paragraph shall discuss the nature and definition of substance abuse. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. (WHO, 2008). The addiction and dependency to these substances can lead the person to develop mental and physical problems.

One characteristic that a person who has substance abuse disorder is, that the more that they depend on the substance, their way of thinking becomes irrational and erratic. The need to fulfill their desire to able to cope with daily stresses in their lives becomes more apparent. Such irrationality makes the person tend to lean towards their need to fulfill their high rather than go about their daily routine lives. Most of these people who have this disorder are withdrawn from interacting inside their society and even neglect interests and various activities.

Even the basic skills that they need to accomplish their daily lives with, is hampered by this disorder. For patients who are drug dependent, specific steps can be made for them to be rehabilitated. The use of non-toxic drugs to flush out substance that have accumulated within the persons’ body can be used as a therapeutic means. This also means that the individual may have an increased tolerance to the substance and symptoms of withdrawal will be observed. Rehabilitation does take time and most of all the cooperation of the individual to be reformed.

For some, being admitted to a rehabilitation center would help them take back their lives. This is where occupational therapy comes into play. The therapy is applicable to modify the behavior of the individual and to help them not be dependent on those illegal substances. Hence enhancing and enriching the way of life of the patient to function normally within the society that they are in. Further steps will be discussed over the following pages of this paper to fully describe how to treat and rehabilitate individuals with substance abuse disorders.

Ironically, substance abuse has been linked to the sporadic proliferation of the HIV virus. Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a virus that causes AIDS. Such virus can be spread through infected blood and secretions as such vaginal and semen secretions (via unprotected intercourse or having multiple partners, among other circumstances). Unfortunately, pregnant women can pass this disease to their offspring during the term of their pregnancy, delivery, and as well as through breastfeeding.

Until now there are no known cures for HIV and AIDS. For HIV, only a cocktail of strong antibiotics can only hinder the progress of the virus within the body but not fully stop the virus being spread. The only preventive precaution is to practice safe-sex, having one partner, and discourage/prohibit the use of drugs especially with the use of syringes, education about this particular disease, setting up awareness campaigns to areas that this virus is rampant and as well as to those that HIV/AIDS have not reached yet.

Occupational therapists are always at the forefront to aid people with such problems. People are helped through interventions, which they utilize in order to assess and stabilize their lives. The theoretical base that can be used here are cognitive psychology; biological psychiatry; occupational behavior; and general systems. This theory base takes one characteristic from each frame of reference the reason is taking a holistic view-point on assisting, teaching, and rehabilitating a person diagnosed with substance abuse.

The occupational therapist needs to help teach the patient with the abilities to cope up with external and internal influences. The three major dysfunctions are: 1) the patient would have an occupational dysfunction that hinders him to lead a fulfilling life; 2) due to the harm that the substance has inflicted on the patient, the process of cognition may be restricted, thus obstructing routine tasks; 3) identifying their role within in the society that they are in.

Three major function continuum which this theoretical base would focus on are: 1) teaching the patient their roles within society, social skills, and habituation; 2) guiding the patient into a fully functional cognitive process in order to perform rudimentary yet routine tasks; and 3) making sure that the patient can be acclimatized to the changing internal and external influences found within their immediate environment. With regards to the first continuum: basic social skills and societal roles are soon lost on the further onset of this disorder.

The patient loses the ability to interact with the environment and society around him as he only focuses on fulfilling his urge to the substance that he is addicted to. The second continuum focuses on preventing atrophy by bringing back the use of major muscles via performing routine/daily task of the patient. As for the third continuum, on the onset of rehabilitation, withdrawal symptoms will be observed and needs to be checked upon. This is the stage where the patients’ body craves for the addictive substance.

This step induces the cognitive process of the patient to rationalize the irrational. Medications are used in the manner in order to facilitate the rehabilitation process of the patient. With this in mind, people who suffer from substance abuse are deemed to assess and stabilize their lives with the aid of occupational therapists.


Casper College (2000). Occupations. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from http://wind. cc. whecn. edu/~mwonser/OCTH2000/unit5. html Encyclopedia Britannica (2008). Occupational Therapy. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from Encyclop?

dia Britannica Online: http://www. britannica. com/eb/article-9373853 Molineux, M. (1997). HIV/AIDS: a new service continuum for occupational therapy. The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60, 194-198. Pizzi, M. (1990). Occupational therapy: Creating possibilities for adults with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection, AIDS related complex, and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 7(2/3/4), 125-137. Presti, H. L. (1990). AIDS: the spiritual challenge. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 7(2/3/4), 87-102.

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation (2002). Pandemic: Part 2 Occupational Therapy and HIV/AIDS. Retrieved February 9, 2008, from http://www. aotf. org/html/pandemic2. html Valentin, C. (1993). SIDA et Ergotherapie a Domicile. World Federation of Occupational Therapists: Bulletin, 28, 24-30. Williams, J. K. (1990). Values and life goals: clinical interventions for people with AIDS. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 7(2/3/4), 55-67. World Health Organization (2008). Substance Abuse. Retrieved February 10, 2008, from http://www. who. int/topics/substance_abuse/en/

Occupational therapy has evolved and throughout the twentieth century and has clear cut definition of its application as a therapy process. With occupational therapy, varying approaches may be used to custom fit the rehabilitation approaches of patients as they see …

Occupational therapists needs to keep in mind the psychological and psychosocial components in order to care and rehabilitate patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. The psychological component focuses more on self concept, values, and interests; and the psychosocial components …

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. (WHO, 2008) The addiction and dependency to these substances can lead the person to develop mental and physical problems. One characteristic that a …

Substances such as drugs, legal or prohibited, can cause negative effect on people depending on how these are being used and taken (Johnson, 2003). People of different background and condition have access to these substances, which may lead to misuse …

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