Psychological support

Counseling aims to help and support the individuals by helping them take control of their lives, improve their social relationships and take control of their drugs habits. Drug abuse can be considered to be a chronic problem similar to other chronic medical conditions like hypertension, diabetes etc. Thus counseling is especially important for preventing relapse among drug addicts (Mcgovern et al, 2005). The various types of counseling strategies which can be used to control the drug problem include ‘person-centered counseling’, cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing (Mcgovern et al, 2005).

Motivational interviewing helps the individuals in identifying their drug problem and also helps them recognize a motivational factor, which would help them in maintaining remission. CBT is believed to motivate the patient to remain abstinent, helps them in fighting against the withdrawal symptoms, and preventing relapse. Thus Mcgovern et al (2005) have emphasised that CBT should be specifically employed both during the action and maintenance phase of treatment.

Lack of social self-control among adolescents and young people might result in an increased prevalence of drug addiction in the society (Pokhrel et al, 2007). Lack of social self-control would result in setting up of vicious cycle where development of drug addiction would further result in decreased level of self-control. The results of the study by Pokhrel et al (2007) indicate that development of high levels of social self-control among young people would help in decreasing the prevalence of drug abuse in the society.

Pokhrel et al (2006) also suggested that teaching the development of social self-control should form an important aspect of cognitive-behavioral therapy which is aimed at preventing young people from abusing drugs. The study by Belcher, & Shinitzky (1998) has shown that educating the children about harmful affects of drug addiction and dissemination of knowledge regarding the controlled substances, from young age itself may act as one of the most important strategies for preventing drug addiction among youth.

Alternative or complementary therapies The role of non-pharmacological therapies like acupuncture, homeopathic teas etc in treatment of substance use disorders has not been identified yet. However studies in future evaluating the role of these therapies in treatment of drug problem might be able to provide more information regarding the efficacy of these therapies. Sources of support in the U. K Self-help groups not only provide support and encouragement to individuals with drug problems but also their families and friends.

Some important support groups in the UK helping people with their drug problems include: Narcotics Anonymous (NA), families anonymous and national drug’s helpline. Narcotics Anonymous Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is one of the largest and oldest non-profit organizations comprising of men and women who suffer from substance use disorders. Presently this organization is able to organize about 500 meetings every week, throughout United Kingdom [Narcotics Anonymous (NA) World Services, Inc, 1986]. Meetings are also organized in prisons and treatment centres.

There is a telephone helpline based in London which handles telephone calls from all over UK. This organization helps an individual to attain abstinence from any kind of drug, including alcohol (NA World Services, Inc, 1986). However, no help is provided regarding nicotine (tobacco smoking), protection against sexually transmitted infections, prostitution etc. Any individual who has a desire to give up using drugs can join this group. The members of this group meet regularly at fixed intervals of time and help each other to remain clean.

This organization does not have any clinical psychologists, therapists or residential facilities (NA World Services, Inc, 1986). It does not provide legal, financial help, or pharmacotherapy. Use of pharmacological agents is neither supported nor prohibited by this organization. The members help each other in solving their problems by sharing their experiences with one another. The maintenance of anonymity is an important aspect of this organization and no record of attendance or names is maintained.

The membership of this organization is absolutely free. Members can give some contributions on voluntary basis to meet the expenses of the organization. The program of Narcotics anonymous is based on twelve principles, which have been adapted from the recovery program of Alcohol Anonymous. The recovery program of narcotics Anonymous specifically emphasises the spiritual requirements of an individual and aims at attaining spiritual awakening. These twelve steps of their recovery program as described by NA World Services, Inc (1991) are as follows:

Accepting that one is having problems with drugs; seeking help to solve the drug problem which has made life difficult; understanding one’s worth; developing a strong belief in god; leaving everything to God with the belief that He would take care of everything; making self-amendments and correcting one’s wrong-deeds; discovering one’s own short-comings; praying to God to help in removing these shortcoming; achieving a spiritual awakening; getting spiritually involved with God through prayer and meditation; admitting to God, to one’s oneself, and to one another human beings, the wrong things one had ever done in life; and providing support to other drug addicts who want to recover.

Besides achieving spiritual awakening another key component of this program is helping and encouraging other addicts achieve abstinence. They also strongly believe that accepting one’s deplorable condition is an effective way of attaining recovery from that condition. In the U. K, delegates are selected among members of NA belonging to a particular area to form area service committees. These service committees are responsible for distributing the literature (pamphlets, books etc) related to the organization, operating telephone help lines and spreading information regarding treatment for drug abuse in public, prisons, drug treatment centres, schools, colleges etc. Numerous area committees coalesce to form regional committees.

The area committees work on local level whereas regional committees work on national level (NA World Services, Inc, 1986). Families Anonymous Drug abuse often results in strained relationships with family and friends. Thus, drug abuse not only harms the individual, it can also have significant adverse affect on the family members and friends. Families Anonymous (FA) is an on organisation comprising of relatives and friends of people who have problems with drugs. Though this group was first started in London, at present there are nearly 50 groups of all over UK. FA is non-profit organization, which does not take any fixed fees from its members.

The group provides support to the family and friends of people facing problems with drugs by helping them interact with other people with a similar frame of mind. People in this group are able to help each other by sharing their anxieties, experiences and insecurities with one another (FA, 2007). In this group, the members are made to realise the magnitude of their problem and are made to come in terms with the reality. Participation is the group meetings of FA helps the members develop an empathetic, friendly and honest attitude towards the individual abusing drugs. Thus they are better able to understand their needs and provide a constant source of motivation to the drug addict to help him successfully undergo the process of treatment and come out clean.

Study by Barrowclough et al (2001) has shown that family support is an important factor which helps in preventing relapse among patients with substance use disorders undergoing treatment. Complete anonymity is maintained in this organization (FA, 2007). No fee is taken from the members. The expenses of this organization are managed through the voluntary contributions made by the members during its meetings. Help and support given to family and friends goes a long way in ultimately proving important help for the drug-dependent person. The principles on which FA work, are based on the 12 steps used by Alcoholics Anonymous (as described before).

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