Common Problems in Patients Recovering from Chemical Dependency

Chemical dependency is a common, chronic disease that affects up to 25 percent of patients seen in primary care practices.

The treatment goal for patients recovering from chemical dependency should be to avoid relapse.

This requires physicians to have an open, nonjudgmental attitude and specific expertise about the implications of addiction for other health problems.

Firstline treatment for chemical dependency should be nonpharmacologic, but when medication is necessary, physicians should avoid drugs that have the potential for abuse or addiction.

Medications that sedate or otherwise impair judgment also should be avoided in the recovering patient.

Psychiatric illnesses should be aggressively treated, because untreated symptoms increase the risk of relapse into chemical dependency.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may help to lower alcohol consumption in depressed patients, and desipramine may help to facilitate abstinence in persons addicted to cocaine.

If insomnia extends beyond the acute or postacute withdrawal period, trazodone may be an effective treatment.

If nonpharmacologic management of pain is not possible, nonaddictive medications should be used.

However, if nonaddictive medications fail, long-acting opiates used under strict supervision may be considered. Uncontrolled pain in itself is a relapse risk.

Research; Fam Physician 2003;68:1971-8. Common Problems in Patients Recovering from Chemical Dependency. EDNA MARIE JONES, DOUG KNUTSON, and DANELL HAINES.

Dual Disorders : Counseling Clients With Chemical Dependency and Mental Illness