Forensic Nursing Student Shares on Putting an End to Drug Misuse

Teaching an Online Forensic Nursing Certification Course provides me with the opportunity to solicit the opinions of the bright people who are creating the future of Forensic Nursing. Here is one such opinion on how to stop drug misuse among people diagnosed with mental illness.

Approximately 10% of the U.S. population will suffer from a mood disorder at some point in their lifetime. The unipolar and bipolar mood disorders that afflict so many individuals can be incredibly debilitating and difficult to treat.

In fact, major depression currently ranks as the second leading cause of disease burden in the United States (Clayton and Stock). Successful treatment of mood disorders is a multi-faceted approach that usually includes psychotherapy, pharmacologic treatment as well as the presence of a strong familial or friendship support system.

Many of the medications used to treat mood disorders such as CNS depressants and anti-anxiety medications have the potential to be addictive for the patient. Also, patients suffering from mood disorders are more likely to develop addictions to medications. In fact, people who suffer from depressive disorder are four times more likely to suffer from addictions to drugs and or alcohol (http://www.muschealth.com/cdap/psyaddiction.htm).

The integrative approach to treating mood disorders is one way of reducing the risk of patients becoming addicted to or misusing prescription medications. The integrated approach to treating patients with mood disorders provides a system of checks and balances to ensure that medication abuse is not occurring.

Psychotherapy is an important component of treating a patient suffering from a depressive disorder. The patient should include regular sessions with a therapist, counselor or psychiatrist. During these weekly or bimonthly appointments, the health care practitioner can monitor the patient’s behavior, affect, and overall progress.

This patient evaluation is an important component of monitoring the effectiveness and proper use of prescription drug therapy. Another component of an integrated therapeutic approach is the incorporation of family members or close friends in the patient’s treatment program. The inclusion of support persons in the patient’s therapy (monthly group therapy sessions), is another way to help the patient adhere to an appropriate medication regime and avoid the potential for misuse.

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