Drug abuse is one of the worst addictions that have badly hit our society. Such addictions eat up happiness, finances, peace of families, and of course, it costs the health of the addicted. Medicircle is conducting an exclusive series against drug abuse and speaking to eminent de-addiction specialists, psychiatrists, and therapists to spread awareness about the treatment of addicts.
Dr. Austin Fernandes is associated as a Consultant Psychiatrist with Dr. L H Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai. He has done MBBS from KEM Hospital and MD - Psychiatry from INHS ASVINI (Indian Navy). He is also the founder of the Freemind Initiative, which is an initiative to provide optimal, accessible, affordable mental health care. He is a member of the Bombay Psychiatrist Society and Indian Psychiatric Society. He is an expert in Depression treatment, Psychosis treatment, De-addiction, Insomnia (Sleeplessness), Anger Management, Marriage/ Marital Counselling, Sleep Disturbance, and Concentration Problems.
How to identify drug abusers?
Dr. Austin mentions, “Drug use has been rampant worldwide, so much that even school children are using it. Apart from alcohol and tobacco, cannabis, cocaine, miao miao, MDMA, whiteners, petroleum products for inhaling are common across age groups and genders. We get to know that our loved one is using drugs either when we see them using it or find the substance in their personal space like cupboards etc. Sometimes we get an inkling about it through their behavior change or increased expenses. If we talk specifically of the recent past, people have been in lockdown for the past one year. Earlier getting substances were a lot easier. Now due to restrictions, going out to get them is a bit more difficult. In such circumstances, people who are addicted to drugs are easily identifiable as they get very anxious to go out and get it.”
How to help if someone we know is a drug addict?
Dr. Austin advises, “After it comes to our notice that the person is using drugs, we must try to explain to them the negative impact that their habit is having on their health. We must research the effects of drug abuse in an individual and make the addicts see their loss and try to make them stop. It might happen that despite their wanting or trying to come out of the situation, they are not able to do so. In such a situation they are required to be taken to an expert who can help them out.”
Effects of withdrawals
Dr. Austin informs, “Any type of intoxicant affects our brain. It changes the chemicals of the brain and works on brain receptors. A person gets intoxicated due to a temporary calming effect on the brain. If a person is regularly using an intoxicant or has used a very high dose of it, then once the calming effect comes down, there is release of certain chemicals in the brain which makes the person anxious.
Withdrawal is the period when a person is stopping the use of the intoxicant that he/she had been addicted to. Common withdrawal symptoms of alcoholics are tremors or fits and seizures. For any type of drug abuse; mostly anxiety or restlessness are the withdrawal symptoms and in most severe conditions there could be seizures as well,” says he.
Mothers are doing utmost harm to their babies if they are consuming drugs during pregnancy
Dr. Austin mentions, “If a woman is consuming drugs or alcohol during pregnancy, it means she is directly providing the same to her baby. This would have a direct impact on the brain of the child. There would be all kinds of developmental delays, and difficulty in reaching motor milestones. Intelligence gets affected. There are difficulties like concentration problems, irritability in children etc. Use of drugs during pregnancy should be strictly prohibited.”
(Edited by Amrita Priya)