Handling a patient with drug problems and substance abuse, is not an easy task. These kinds of patients require special care in order to recover and you are a big part of this process. In order to handle the patient effectively, it’s best to apply these approaches below.
Ask questions gently
In order to understand the nature and the extend of the disorder, it’s best to ask a few questions that may hint that there is a problem. For example, you can ask questions like:
· “Have you ever felt that your drug problems have gone out of control?”
· “Do you remember doing something bizarre as a result of drug abuse”?
· “What are the symptoms after abusing drugs”
The questions should be asked in a direct, calm and empathetic manner otherwise the patient may feel intimated and tell lies or give you one word answers. New questions may arise in the process which can give you even more details in order to assess the patient’s problem better.
Encourage awareness of the problem
Irrespective of the cause of the problems, the first step towards recovery is the patient being aware of his problem and that he/she needs treatment. If the patient is not fully aware of his problem or builds resistance, you should calmly explain the reasons to undergo treatment and that it is for his/her benefit. This is of course not your own responsibility but you should work as part of the team to gain patient’s trust and help him start the treatment process
Understand common drug abuse symptoms
Treating a patient with drug abuse problems is very complicated task and you need patience because drug abuse has a multitude of symptoms. Patients with drug problems suffer from mental, bodily and social problems and their ability to react normally is greatly reduced. For example many of these patients suffer from insomnia, headaches, hallucinations, various body pains, memory loss, mood swings and many other symptoms often co-existing with each other. The patient may complain for minor issues or threaten to commit suicide in extreme cases but with a little experience you will be able to identify when the patient needs immediate help or not.
Connect with their family and friends
The role of the patient’s siblings is extremely vital to help the patient recognize his issues and support him/her towards recovery.Many often, family members and friends may fear social stigma and refuse to acknowledge the problem, or simply be clueless about their approach. Explain to them the truth of the matter in an empathetic manner, and give general guidelines on how to handle their loved one, when there is no medical staff around.
These are some general approaches to have in mind but when in doubt, you can always ask the doctor or the counselor to guide you in a specific problem that may arise during the process.
If you are reading this and are a patient yourself, or a patient’s friend or family member, take a look at more of the drug addiction treatment Orange County offers and contact a member of their medical staff to get a proper diagnosis and discuss the treatment options.