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Drug rehab centers: Addiction and the Helping Professions

The helping professions are those who are involved in treating trauma and dealing with disaster. Doctors, nurses, firefighters, psychologists, policemen, and paramedics are all examples of helping professions. People in these professions are exposed to trauma and illness on a daily basis. Clearly this requires a certain personal hardiness to deal with but eventually even the most hardened professional will experience burnout and be affected by what they see and hear at work. Quite a large number of these professionals turn to substance abuse as a means to cope. This is not only harmful to the people they hope to serve but can lead to destruction for the professional. Swift intervention and admission to a drug rehab center in South Africa can help the professional get back on track.

Trauma and substance abuse The Vietnam war that America waged in the asian jungles resulted in a great many soldiers returning home having experienced extreme trauma. This led to a new illness being recognized in American psychiatry: “post-Vietnam Syndrome”. This was later refined to the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who were exposed to extreme trauma had persisting symptoms for years after the war. Many were found to be abusing substances in an attempt to self-medicate their symptoms which included nightmares and anxiety. In South Africa members of the special reconnaisance unit who fought in the covert war against Mozambique are known to suffer from similar symptoms. Admission to a drug rehab center in South Africa will help sufferers address the underlying psychological issues that drive their PTSD. This will free them from the self-destructive cycle and enable recovery from addiction to occur.

More recently links between the trauma that members of the helping professionals are exposed to and substance abuse have been probed. There is no uniform way that people respond to trauma and so predicting a reaction is not always possible. There are four different categories that symptoms fall into:

* Cognitive: sufferers will have memories of the incident that intrude on their normal train of thought. They may experience bouts of confusion and have difficulty concentrating.

* Behavioural: Sufferers will often withdraw from others. They are at an increased risk of developing a substance abuse disorder.

* Physical: Insomnia, loss of appetite, headaches, and fatigue

* Emotional: Anxiety and depression, inexplicable anger

Most individuals will show some symptoms from these different categories and won’t have all of them. A comprehensive treatment program in a good drug rehab center in South Africa will address these symptoms as well as the deeper issues that drive the process of PTSD.

How prevalent is substance abuse in the helping professions? Doctors: About 10% of doctors are estimated to have developed a problem with substance use. Doctors are most likely to turn to prescription medication like opiates and benzodiazepines. They will also abuse emergency medication and anesthetics.

Nurses: In a 1998 study Trinkoff and Storr found that 32% of 4,438 nurses reported some form of substance abuse. Emergency room nurses, who are exposed to trauma on a regular basis, were much more likely to report substance abuse than general nursing staff.

Firefighters: Firefighters are exposed to extremely dangerous situations. Boxer and Wild (1993) conducted a study that concluded that about 40% of firefighters were suffering from some form of psychological distress related to their work. Approximately 30% of them reported problem drinking.

Police Officers: The incidence of alcohol abuse in the police force is estimated to be about 25%.

Treatment options Addiction is a progressive illness that gets worse over time if left untreated. PTSD and stress responses will continue unabated unless they are treated. People with these disorders should seek treatment as a matter of urgency. Early intervention will prevent the symptoms from worsening to the point where the sufferer is overwhelmed. Somebody who is using substances to run away from trauma are usually unable to take care of themselves. Admission to a drug rehab center in South Africa will help the sufferer break the worsening cycle of destruction.

A comprehensive treatment program should address the trauma and substance abuse disorder in a holistic and integrative manner. A highly individualized treatment plan should be drawn up to deal with the traumatic events. If these issues are at the root of the addiction then easing the pressure they create will help to remove some of the triggers that lead to substance abuse. The patient will still be exposed to the general substance abuse treatment program. By treating the many dimensions and facets of the individual a more favourable treatment outcome is likely. Members of the helping professions are just as vulnerable to substance abuse as other people. Their exposure to highly stressful situations on a daily basis can result in substance abuse as a way to cope. They can be successfully treated in drug rehab centers in South Africa where they will be treated using an individualized blend of treatments.

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