Getting a patient/family member/ friend to realize they have an illness is complex and decide to start treatment.
The passage from the absolute lack of awareness of the disease to the determination to start treatment and stay in abstinence is marked by different characteristic phases.
The encounter with each of these stages requires different handling of the situation from the therapeutic point of view and the point of view of family intervention.
What are the most effective interventions in each of the stages? Let us take a look at the different locations.
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Pre-contemplation Stage: During this phase, the person considers not having problems due to drug use. Denial is the dominant characteristic.
In this phase, it is advisable to provide information to generate doubts about the way of thinking about drug use to try to increase the perception of risk and awareness of the problem.
Contemplation Stage: There is already an awareness of the problem in this phase. It is common for consumers to assume that they have difficulty at specific times or when friends prompt them.
Generally, in this phase, there is a concurrence of why they should continue using drugs. There is also inner turmoil, whether they should change or stop using drugs.
These contradictions are commonly resolved with excuses that justify consumption and free the dependent from responsibility.
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Treatment will help the user to lean favourably for the reasons to change, stimulate confidence in their ability to stop using, and fundamentally try to make the addict assume responsibility for their illness and the decisions they make on the road to healing or the perpetuation of it.
Determination Stage: The drug user has the decision to do something to address the problem and is ready to do it. In this phase, it is essential to know and evaluate the treatment alternatives and adapt to the most appropriate treatment.
It is vital to start treatment as soon as possible when this stage is reached since it is usually a reasonably labile phase. Patients often make decisions, but the disease process and fear lead them to back down from their actions.
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Action Stage: This is where the process of change to stop using drugs takes place. This is usually the treatment phase. Family support is still critical at this stage, and the patient mustn’t feel abandoned by a clinic or therapy.
Maintenance and Prevention
Stage of Maintenance and Prevention of relapses: In this stage, it is sought to strengthen and maintain the change achieved, thereby preventing the person from using drugs again.
It is essential to try to achieve and maintain a change in lifestyle and manage emotions and behaviours that favour consumption identified in the treatment.
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In this phase, relapses are very frequent. Avoid succumbing to the feeling of frustration, and support and highlight those behaviours and actions that highlight the change achieved so far.
Try to focus on the positive and learn from the “stumble” to prevent the situation from repeating itself in the future.
It may be necessary to resume treatment or increase the frequency of the sessions, but it must always be emphasized that this is not a step backwards but a step toward self-awareness and abstinence.
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