A psychiatrist is a medical doctor specialised in psychiatry, focusing on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. They can prescribe medication and offer other medical treatments, addressing both mental and physical aspects of psychological conditions. Many psychiatrists treat addiction, including those with a sub-specialty in ‘addictionology‘. They handle dual diagnosis cases, where substance abuse coexists with other psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety or Bipolar Disorder. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication, behavioural therapy and psychiatric consultation.

Key distinctions between psychiatrists and other mental health professionals include:

  1. Psychiatrists vs. Psychologists
    Psychiatrists, who are medical doctors, can prescribe medications. Psychologists, holding doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, primarily offer psychotherapy and cannot prescribe medication.
  2. Psychiatrists vs. Therapists
    Therapists with master’s degrees in mental health-related fields, employ therapeutic techniques like talk therapy but lack the authority to prescribe medication.
  3. Psychiatrists vs. Neurologists
    Neurologists, also medical doctors, treat physical conditions of the brain and nervous system, focusing on physical symptoms, while psychiatrists concentrate on cognitive and behavioural symptoms.

Psychiatrists utilise medical and psychological tests for diagnosing mental health conditions, guided by the DSM-5. Their treatment plans often involve a combination of psychotherapy, medication and other medical treatments.

In addiction treatment, psychiatrists are important in addressing the interplay between addiction and mental health disorders. They provide medication management for withdrawal symptoms and co-occurring mental health issues, collaborate with other healthcare professionals for comprehensive care and design individualised treatment plans, including therapy for underlying causes of addiction.

In seeking treatment, it’s important to find a qualified psychiatrist with a valid license and appropriate certifications. Experience in dealing with addiction cases is crucial. Addiction psychiatrists may work in various settings, including private practice, hospitals or as part of a treatment team in addiction treatment centers. For those with co-occurring psychiatric disorders, consulting a psychiatrist with a sub-specialty in addiction psychiatry can be particularly beneficial due to their specialised expertise and experience.

Psychiatry has evolved significantly, integrating medical and psychological advancements. It plays an essential role in addiction recovery, aiding individuals in achieving stability and well-being.

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    Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specialising in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance our organisation facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualised care that addresses the physical, mental and social needs of patients.

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    Rehab care is a good option if you are at risk of experiencing strong withdrawal symptoms when you try stop a substance. This option would also be recommended if you have experienced recurrent relapses or if you have tried a less-intensive treatment without success.


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