Certain populations require specialized methods of treating addiction. Here are some general differences based on certain groups of people.
Addiction professionals have discovered that women and men experience drug addiction treatment differently. As a result, an individual’s treatment plan must respect a patient’s biological differences, in addition to taking into account things that can motivate someone to use drugs such as social issues, environmental factors, the reason for seeking drug addiction treatment, where treatment will be conducted, which treatments will be most effective, and the fallout that might result if the person does not receive treatment.
There are several issues that are more likely to arise in women than in men. For example, addiction professionals have found that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from either physical or sexual trauma is more likely to occur in female patients. Further, women more often need to consider whether treatment will interfere with pregnancy, childcare or finances prior to deciding if treatment is appropriate at a particular time. Women are also more likely to seek treatment through a medical doctor or mental health professional – these third-party professionals will often play a vital role in post-discharge continuation of care.
Although the majority of people seeking treatment for drug addiction are adults, the population of adolescent drug addicts is, sadly, on the rise. Young people who are addicted to drugs have specific needs, given that their bodies, neurological systems, and psychosocial skills have not yet matured. Studies have shown that the brain develops continuously from birth through adolescence and early adulthood and, during this time, behaviors progress from being impulsive to more reasoned and reflective. The areas of the brain that control decision making, judgment, planning and self-control develop rapidly during adolescence.
Drug abuse is found in adolescents who are also suffering from other mental illnesses such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, conduct issues, depression and anxiety. When treating an adolescent, therapists must also screen for physical abuse, sexual abuse, or academic problems, which can also lead to drug addiction.
Addiction professionals have found that treatment plans which encourage parental involvement and help integrate school and athletic programs are most effective, as young people can be very tuned in to social cues among peers and family members and be influenced accordingly. Counselors also find that access to comprehensive assessment, competent treatment, effective case management and family support services that address a patient’s unique personal development, culture, and gender are also integral to the adolescent addiction treatment model.
Although medication is often thought to be effective against drug addiction in adolescents, only one drug, the transdermal nicotine patch, is currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the adolescent population. In the future, researchers hope to include medications that address alcohol and opioid abuse in both adolescents and adolescents that also have mental disorders.
Over the next few decades, the “baby boomer” generation will continue to add to the ranks of the AARP in unprecedented numbers. Given that more people, both young and old, are using drugs and alcohol than ever before, officials expect the number of older Americans who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to skyrocket. Differing cultural norms, attitudes about drug use and increasing availability of psychotherapeutic medications will only add to the problem. Although drug treatment programs geared specifically toward older people are rare, studies show that treatment programs geared toward younger adults can be just as effective in treating addiction in elderly people. Unfortunately, the vast majority of older drug addicts are untreated, as care providers are not yet trained to recognize addiction symptoms in their patients.
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