Tag Archives: biochemistry

Initial Intake

At Reflections Recovery Center, each patient will go through a psychiatric evaluation. This applies to anyone, no matter what state they believe their mental health to be in. A psychiatric evaluation can be essential for many people in recovery. An initial assessment will allow our team to understand if each patient needs any psychiatric services and to what extent. An evaluation will provide a clear picture of our patient’s history covering mental health, physical health, and anything to do with addiction. The truth is, psychiatric help can prove beneficial for anyone. The most healthy people in the world still need to take care of their physical and mental health. With each patient, we want to have a complete understanding of their behavior and history. This will allow us to identify and treat the underlying causes that contributed to their addiction.

When we talk about underlying causes, we are not saying there is a total lack of personal choice and responsibility. Realistically, any person can become addicted under certain circumstances. Any person can choose to participate in, or abstain from, the consumption for certain substances. While there is a personal choice, clearly not everyone is on the edge of addiction.  It is the underlying causes that may make a person more susceptible. Underlying causes may also be what takes it from occasional use or experimentation to abuse and addiction. With a psychiatric evaluation, we hope to identify psychological, social, and biochemistry issues that might be contributing to addiction. Someone may struggle more deeply with one or it can be a combination of all three problems. Each issue can also feed into the other problems creating a negative cycle.

Mental Health Screening

Identifying and treating mental health problems can help significantly when dealing with addiction. The severity of mental illness is something that can obviously have a wide range. Someone might struggle with a psychological issue and it may not be as severe as other problems. Nevertheless, every person, no matter the severity, should have their mental health taken just as seriously. Many people suffer from mental health disorders and turn to substance abuse to self-medicate. Unfortunately, anxiety is not always perceived to be as serious as other mental health disorders. While it may not be as severe as other disorders, this leads many people to brush it off as something that people should be able to work on by themselves. For anyone struggling with anxiety, this can create a sense of helplessness. Someone may then turn to abusing alcohol or prescription drugs to cope with their undiagnosed and untreated anxiety.

Biochemistry and Addiction

In each patient’s initial evaluation we will also look at their biochemistry with lab testing. This will allow us to look for genetic factors that might be contributing to addiction. We also want to look for any other physical ailments that can be treated. As stated above, anxiety is something that might come up in a psychological assessment. There are of course many ways to treat this, such as medication or various forms of therapy. It could also be the case that someone’s anxiety could be biochemical issues that can also be treated with a holistic approach. With poor nutrition, our bodies deal with inflammation and that greatly impacts our mood. This can leave someone feeling depressed, lethargic, and incredibly anxious.

Identifying Social Issues

The environment that we are each raised in shapes who we are. It can be what makes us unique and capable of doing incredible things. Our social and cultural surroundings can also unfortunately be what drags us down. Some of it is out of our control – our families, where we live, and often our economic status. Illicit drugs may be more widely available in certain places, and this will absolutely be a factor in addiction rates. Cultural elements that can contribute to addiction can include social media, friend groups, and entertainment sources.

These elements are not inherently bad at all, but can quickly become problems. Social media can be isolating and also misleading. It can present the image that users want, which can make substance abuse appear fulfilling when it is not. Entertainment, in many formats, can present a similar image. In particular, alcohol is presented as a means to a happier, more social life. Many people even find humor in stories or behavior that is a result of heavy-drinking. This normalizes heavy-drinking and binge-drinking, which pose significant risks to every person’s health. Understandably, this makes it difficult for most people to recognize when alcohol use turns to abuse and addiction.

Moving Forward

If we can identify the factors that contribute to addiction, we can help our patients work to move past them. We cannot guarantee a complete fix for everything, no one can. However, we can help provide tools for dealing with problems as they arise in life. An article published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine, regarding psychological evaluations, noted, “While in therapy, patients strengthen their motivation, acquire skills supporting them to resist temptation of use, encounter gratifying activities not involving drugs able to replace former ones, and improve their problem solving skills.”* This explains what we want to accomplish at Reflections. We hope to provide all of that so our patients can live a full life and avoid relapse.

With therapy for mental health issues, we can work with patients to provide tools to ease and manage symptoms. Lab testing will give us a closer look at a patient’s biochemistry; we can identify physical issues that are contributing to addiction and keeping them vulnerable. Social issues might seem like a simple fix, but can actually be quite complex. We will need to identify where in the patient’s social environment they may be faced with problems. Is it a friend group that is encouraging use of various substances? It can be incredibly difficult to make a clean break or continue to participate in the same social circle and resist temptation.

A psychiatric evaluation will help provide a comprehensive look at each patient’s history. All patients will be unique in their needs and that is something that can be found at Reflections Recovery Center. We recognize the need for group therapy, but also individualized help. With everything we provide, we want each patient to walk away better equipped to maintain sobriety and to also live a full life in every aspect.

*Resources:
The relevance of the psychological evaluation in drug dependence – NIH