Sunday July 21, 2019

Social environment may influence alcoholism and drug abuse

"Alcohol problems involve biological, psychological and social aspects. Therefore, intervening in the social connections of alcohol abusers may help to mitigate the damage done by alcohol misuse"

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Drug abuse Image Source: ncadd.org
  • The findings showed that the links between substance use and social connections are bi-directional and strong
  • Nearly 20 per cent of relationship terminations pose a relapse risk to the patients
  • On the other hand around 10 per cent of relationship terminations occur because of the patients’ continued use of substances.

Social relationships including family and friends play a key role in an individual’s recovery from substance-abuse problems and at the same time may also negatively influence them to become an addict, finds a study.

The findings showed that the links between substance use and social connections are bi-directional and strong.

“Our data show that social mechanisms substantially affect clinical outcomes over long periods of time,” said Robert L. Stout, a scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, a US based non-profit organisation.

Often after treatment for substance abuse problems, clinicians urge patients to avoid ‘bad’ social contacts and foster ‘good’ ones, the study said.

Alcohol desgracia Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Alcohol desgracia Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“How clients change their social connections after treatment is a strong indicator of substance abuse outcomes one year and three years later,” Stout added.”

Nearly 20 per cent of relationship terminations pose a relapse risk to the patients.

On the other hand around 10 per cent of relationship terminations occur because of the patients’ continued use of substances.

Family and partner relationships are the least likely to end (roughly 20 per cent over two years), but about half of friendships seem to end over the span of two years.

Substance abuse strongly affects families and friends of alcohol abusers, accounting for much of the harm due to alcohol abuse, said the paper that underlines the importance of investigating how we can address social mechanisms in treatment to improve outcomes.

“Alcohol problems involve biological, psychological and social aspects. Therefore, intervening in the social connections of alcohol abusers may help to mitigate the damage done by alcohol misuse,” Stout suggested.

The team followed patients’ undergoing treatment for drugs and alcohol for two years to examine how changes in new and old relationships are linked to substance abuse.

They focused on factors associated with relationship break ups, observing how different types of relationships affect and are affected by substance use.

The researchers also looked at how relationship changes ultimately affected treatment outcomes.

The results were presented at the 39th Annual Research Society on Alcoholism in New Orleans, recently. (Source: IANS)

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Its true that family play a very important role but one should also have strong will power and determination to get rid of alcohol.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Yes, social environment does affect a person’s indulgence in alcohol and drugs

Next Story

Virtual Reality Treatment Reduces Desire for Drugs

During the treatment, users wearing a headset see several common drug use scenarios displayed through VR software

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Virtual Reality, Treatment, Drugs
More than 70 per cent of the participants have reduced their desire for drugs after undergoing the treatment, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday. Pixabay

More than 1,000 drug users in Shanghai have undergone an eight-month virtual reality treatment programme over the last three years to overcome their addiction.

More than 70 per cent of the participants have reduced their desire for drugs after undergoing the treatment, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday citing the local judicial department.

During the treatment, users wearing a headset see several common drug use scenarios displayed through VR software. The headset is equipped with an infrared eye-tracker that can detect what they are looking at and for how long. If one watches an object for a long time, he or she must be interested in it.

The VR system simulates drug-craving cues in order to collect psychological data to evaluate addicts and help them off drugs. Their biological indicators, such as heart rate and skin conductivity, are recorded at the same time.

Virtual Reality, Treatment, Drugs
More than 1,000 drug users in Shanghai have undergone an eight-month virtual reality treatment programme over the last three years. Pixabay

Traditional methods to induce drug cravings are mainly fake drugs and pictures of drugs, which look unreal, and addicts’ eye movements cannot be recorded accurately, making assessment difficult, said Xu Ding, a senior researcher with the Shanghai rehabilitation administration.

“The VR technology can offer an immersive environment, such as a party, a bar or a KTV room, where users can interact with virtual features,” Xu said.

Health professionals also use VR to help addicts cut their psychological reliance on drugs.

After inducing drug cravings, VR images automatically switch to scenes showing negative consequences of drug use, such as disease, broken families and suicide, to arouse feelings of discomfort and then aversion to drugs.

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“If you see a worm every time you eat an apple, you’ll stop wanting apples,” said Zhang Chaojing, of Shanghai Qingdong rehabilitation centre.

Sometimes the VR system displays natural scenery to help calm addicts, better regulate their emotions and gradually abandon drugs.

“Modern solutions are more scientific,” said Xu. (IANS)