The effect of psychotropics is on the central nervous system of the person and it changes the behaviour and perception of the person. There are four main groups of this type of drug which are classified as depressants, stimulants, anti-psychotics, and hallucinogens. Several drugs can be a part of more than one category like being both a hallucinogen and a stimulant. Most drugs alter the moods of the user. Antidepressants and antipsychotic medicines are often used as a part of psychiatric treatment to help reduce depression or anxiety. Doctors may recommend antidepressants or tranquilizers. People with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may have to use mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs to treat their disorder.
There are many depressants and stimulants that can become very addicting. Morphine, a depressant has been used to relieve severe pain, however, morphine is highly addictive and is hard to withdraw from if used for a prolong amount of time. Some drugs have experienced a bad reputation over the years because of their recreational use. Marijuana has many beneficial medical uses. Many people with cancer and AIDS have found that it is helpful with reducing pain and stimulating their appetite, however, we are only now considering its benefits in traditional medicine.
Irrespective of the category of the psychotropic drug one is using, they all have possibly serious consequence for misuse. One must use these drugs under the direct supervision of the medical doctor or psychiatrist. Abusing any of these substances can cause serious and irreparable damage to one’s body and mind. Many people have lost their jobs, families, and freedom because they decided that they could handle using these drugs without assistance. Many people who weren’t able to adjust without these substances have had to enter rehab or detox facilities in order to clean themselves up. One can overdose on many of these substances and even die. These drugs should only be used in conjunction with a valid medical condition and under their direction.
TOP 5 PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS
Xanax (alprazolam) is an anxiolytic (antipanic and antianxiety) benzodiazepine medication classified as a schedule IV controlled substance (according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which has a low potential for abuse and a low risk for dependence. Alprazolam does have the potential for misuse, although some experts claim that the risk is low and similar to that of other benzodiazepine drugs.
This drug possesses antianxiety, sedative, muscle relaxing, and anticonvulsant properties. It slows down the chemical movement within the central nervous system, which results in the reduction of anxiety.
Adverse effects include some symptoms of benzodiazepines such as drowsiness, headache, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, impaired coordination, increased or decreased appetite, fatigue, memory impairment, anxiety and increased heart rate, sleeplessness, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, noticeable changes in sex drive, menstrual irregularities, urinary retention.
Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription antidepressant drug. It belongs to a group of antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRls).
This medication is often used to treat depression experienced by adults and teenagers. This medication may also be used to treat adults and teenagers who experience panic attacks, posttraumatic stress, social anxiety, premenstrual dysphoric issues and obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors. Zoloft may help to control the emotions, thoughts, and actions that sometimes accompany these mental health conditions, but it will not cure the conditions.
Possible side effects include unclear vision, seizures, rapid or irregular heartbeat, abnormal bleeding, bruising, or blistering, auditory or visual hallucinations, stiff muscles, flu-like symptoms such as fever or excessive sweating, drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, changes, in appetite or weight, restlessness, stomach issues, gas, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation, low sodium levels in blood, headache, pain or tingling in extremities, noticeable differences in sex drive or ability, unwarranted tremors or shaking, sore or tight throat.
Celexa (citalopram) belongs to a group of antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRls). It is most commonly used to treat depression in adults, teenagers, and children. It is a prescription-only medication.
This drug works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain in order to help maintain emotional balance. Celexa may also be prescribed by a doctor or a psychiatrist to help reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety, panic attack, obsessive compulsion, alcohol dependency, premenstrual dysphoric issues, and disordered eating.
Possible side effects include suicidal thoughts and behaviors, irregular heartbeat, difficulty breathing, high fever, dizziness, loss of consciousness, blisters, hives, or rashes, itching, difficulty swallowing, seizures, confusion, drowsiness, exhaustion, shaking, joint or muscle pain, anxiety, dry mouth, heartburn, loss of appetite, persistent nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, constipation, excessive sweating, heavy menstrual periods, frequent urination, a noticeable change in sex drive or ability.
Prozac (fluoxetine) is part of a group of relatively newer antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRls). This prescription medication effectively increases the amount of serotonin, a neurotransmitter related to mood in the body.
Newer antidepressant medications like Prozac were developed to produce fewer side effects than older antidepressant medications such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclics, and tetracyclics.
Possible side effects include seizures, irregular heartbeat, difficulty swaltowing or breathing, muscle. stiffness or joint pain, fever, hives or skin rash, facial swelling or swelling in the extremities, drowsiness or weakness, sweating, dry mouth, changes in appetite or weight loss, restlessness or nervousness, nausea, change in sex drive or ability, tremors or shaking, sore or scratchy throat.
Chemically, Ativan (lorazepam) is a short-acting anxiolytic belonging to a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is usually prescribed to treat anxiety associated with mental health conditions such as depression and insomnia, panic, muscle spasm pain, and seizures. In some cases, it has also been used to manage symptoms associated with the acute phase of schizophrenia.
Possible side effects include drowsiness and lightheadedness the day after administration. Depending on dose, it may also cause an anterograde amnesic effect, which leads to difficulty forming new memories. For people who are elderly, confusion and ataxia (loss of muscle coordination) are common due to the sedative properties of anxiolytics. The sedative effect of Ativan can also lead to hypotension, headache, vertigo, and muscle weakness. Changes in libido and urinary retention are also reported in some cases.
PSYCHOTROPIC DRUG ABUSE
As per a study titled “Psychotropic Medication Use among Adolescents: United States, 2005-2010,” about 6.3 percent U.S. adolescents reported any type of psychotropic medication use in the past month, during the period 2005-2010. The study, conducted by Bruce S. Jonas, Sc.M., Ph.D., Qiuping Gu, M.D., Ph.D. and Juan R. Albertorio-Diaz, M.A., found that the highest abuse seen is of antidepressants (3.2 percent) and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) drugs (3.2 percent). They are followed by antipsychotics (1 percent); anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics (0.5 percent); and antimanics (0.2 percent). Males (4.2 percent) are more likely to use ADHD drugs as compared to females (2.2 percent), and females (4.5o/o) are more likely than males (2 percent) to use antidepressants.
The use of psychotropic drug was higher among non-Hispanic white (8.2 percent) adolescents than non-Hispanic black (3.1 percent) and Mexican-American (2.9 percent) adolescents. Approximately half of the U.S. adolescents using psychotropic drugs in the past month had seen a mental health professional in the past year (53.3 percent).
WEANING OFF OF PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS
The use of any type of psychiatiic drug (antidepressant, sleep medication, anti-psychotic or ADHD medications) isn’t always a permanent situation. Doctors often prescribe such drugs for a period in a patient’s life when such medication will be therapeutic for treatment of concentration issues, anxiety, sleeping disorders or other quality of life considerations.
In some case, the patient suffers side effects from the drugs themselves that cause more problems and quality of life issues than the psychiatric ailment itself. These types of medications often cause “discontinuation symptoms” which can possibly be avoided or lessened by a slow weaning process instead of stopping “cold turkey.” It is important to note that one should never stop taking psychotropic drugs without first consulting the doctor. There are four steps to weaning off which include:
1. Consulting the Prescribing Physician
- Learn about the drug.
- Ask the doctor whether the therapeutic needs were satisfied.
- Ask if it is possible to cut the pills in half
- Try for a ‘tapering off’ dosage
2. Protecting Yourself
- Follow, exactly, your doctor’s orders.
- Understand the symptoms of withdrawal.
- Ask questions.
- Do not be shy.
- Consider getting a second opinion.
- Be closely monitored
3. Navigating the weaning process
- Be willing to change your mind.
- Eat healthy.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Don’t have too much caffeine.
- Try psychotherapy.
4. Stopping illegal prescription drug abuse safely
- Talk to your doctor.
- Learn about rehab.
- Be honest with yourself.
- Try rehab.
ALTERNATIVES TO PSYCHOTROPICS
Family members can have a significant influence on a client’s initial decision to attempt psychotropic medication. They can also influence the client’s willingness to adhere to a treatment regimen once it has been started. This is because most clients live in families, and they are affected by their loved ones’ responses to their choices. For these reasons, clinicians should welcome input from members of the client’s family. After all, the responsibility of caring for a client usually falls on family members.
When getting the family on board, explain the rationale as to why you believe a psychotropic medication evaluation is worth considering for their loved one. Have a healthy respect for family members’ views and experiences about medication, but do challenge faulty belief systems with determination. Offer reading material and Web addresses to help ensure that family members have as much information as possible. And do answer any questions they may have straightforwardly, as you need as many allies as you can get when you invest in client success.
A family faced with a seriously disturbed and irrational member can become desperate in their attempts to resolve the crises. Disturbed individuals deserve and need our protection from abuse. The more intense and extreme the disturbance, the gentler the treatment. As a brief guide, always:
- Help a person with quiet, food, rest and only if necessary to achieve rest, a mild drug so that he or she can rest properly and sufficiently.
- Never turn someone who is mentally disturbed over to people who use force, seclusion, or physically damaging practices and treatments.
- Ensure that a full and searching medical examination is conducted to determine any undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions.
- Always find the cause of the person’s problems. Never be satisfied with a mere explanation of the symptoms.
The use of neurofeedback as an alternative to psychotropic medications has been used effectively at an eating disorder treatment center. When a client admits for treatment, clients are not immediately medicated. Clinicians wait to see if the client needs medication, if she needs a medication change, or if skill building and neurofeedback can work wonders. If a client in fact does need medication, natural products are used at first, then pharmaceutical medications are used only if absolutely necessary and then for the shortest possible time.
Studies by Penniston and Scott show that neurofeedback can produce remarkable results when used to treat substance abuse. Since 40-50% of women with eating disorders have issues with substance abuse, it makes sense that the same kind of results can be found in using neurofeedback in the treatment of eating disorders. The use of neurofeedback is can be responsible for increasing efficacy of treatment.
Neurofeedback (or biofeedback) is simply the science of reconditioning and retraining brain wave patterns. Although still considered “new,” this learning technique has been widely used since the 1960s for stress reduction and the treatment of epilepsy. Just to be clear, the reconditioning and retraining of brain wave patterns is something the client learns to do not something that is done to them. Eating disorders don’t exist in a vacuum. They often occur in conjunction with other conditions such OCD, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders. These co-occurring disorders will constitute a dual-diagnosis for eating disordered patients. The brain map pinpoints the area of the brain where there are brain wave deviations. During typical neurofeedback training, sensors are placed on the scalp and/or ear lobes. A neurofeedback unit provides instantaneous audio and visual display of brain wave activity.
If you imagine yourself sitting in front of a computer and you are “wearing” your sensors, you’ll be able to see your actual brain wave patterns on the computer screen. Yes, it’s very cool! This “feedback” allows the individual to influence and change brain activity. Through individualized neurofeedback training, the brain learns to increase or decrease certain frequencies in brain wave activity in order to function most efficiently for the task at hand. The changes are temporary at first but become permanent over time.
Almost all clients with eating disorders have severe depression and anxiety. In the treatment of depression and anxiety, neurofeedback can work wonders. Neurofeedback can work miracles for those with a substance abuse problem. It is the treatment of choice for ADD and ADHD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder responds very well.
On fact that is vital to keep in mind is that a person going to treatment will not experience any change if she is only getting 1-2 neurofeedback sessions per week. It is necessary to have at least 4 to 5 sessions a week for the brain to change. If a clinic tells you they are using neurofeedback, immediately ask them how many sessions can be expected per week. Then you’ll know if it will make a difference.
In any society, the accomplishment of true mental health amongst its citizens should rest on 3 basic criteria which are:
- Effective mental “healing” technology and treatments which improve and strengthen the individual by restoring personal strength, ability, competence, confidence, stability, responsibility and spiritual wellbeing.
- Highly trained, ethical practitioners who are committed primarily to the well-being of their patient and who can deliver what they promise.
- Mental healing delivered in a calm atmosphere of tolerance, safety, security and respect for people’s rights.