It Takes a Village

CC BY-SA Ripton Scott

Building my own major has really opened my eyes to the importance of interdisciplinarity. I feel like I’m privy to this big secret of interdisciplinarity, when in all actuality EVERYONE does interdisciplinary work of some sort. Pretty much anything you can think of will probably have some sort of interdisciplinary element to it. How can it not? Humans are naturally social beings who need other people to survive, so why wouldn’t that same concept translate to the academic world? Just take this class for example. This course is solely dedicated to integrating multiple disciplines into one new program, but that’s just one way (out of countless others) that interdisciplinarity proves its benefit and worth.

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Interdisciplinarity shows its worth and benefit to me in a second way too. However, this time it shows it in a little bit more critical way. Drug rehabilitation programs. To me, these programs are an amazing example of the desperate need for collaboration of specialists, academics, and people from different disciplines.

The DSM V contains criteria for substance abuse problems a.k.a. substance use disorders. When people who struggle with these disorders get treatment or help, a huge resource is a rehabilitation program. These programs thrive through the collaboration of a ton of different people that are working to help those who struggle with substance abuse disorder.

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One obvious specialist that we would see in a rehabilitation center would be a physician. Without the help of physicians, we would have no idea what type of treatment could be used to help the individual in question. There are many ways to approach addiction. Some medications have been manufactured to help with addiction, but access and appropriate use of those are dependent on a doctor who is qualified to prescribe and administer those medications. Not only would a doctor help with medicinal treatments, but they would also be needed to understand to what caliber withdrawal symptoms might have on someone.

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Another important player in addiction treatment is an addiction specialist. An addiction specialist is specifically learned in addiction medicine and can create and implement effective rehabilitation treatments. These specialists are usually psychiatrists or physicians that specialize in addiction medicine. Knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to effectively treating someone with a substance abuse disorder.

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Psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists, are another piece to this interdisciplinary puzzle. These types of specialists are useful to help with other preexisting mental illnesses, diagnose mental illnesses that are not known of, help people cope with the challenges of rehabilitation and withdrawal, as well as a myriad of other things.

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While most of the people that are extremely important to the success of a drug rehabilitation program are specialists, there are a couple other people who are also vital to success. One of those being the patient’s family. Support from family is such an important aspect of one’s treatment. Families of people with substance abuse disorder can go to family therapy, which is shown to have immense benefits to a person’s recovery. Having a supportive backbone whilst in recovery and continued support post-recovery is so important to recovering and counteracting relapse. Without the support of loved ones, rehabilitation programs would be much more challenging.

These aspects of drug rehabilitation programs that I have mentioned are only a few of the interconnected parts of a successful rehabilitation program. There are so many people that can play a role in overcoming addiction, whether it be specialist or non-academics. The integration of all these aspects is so important because one can’t work effectively without the other, and in this case, stakes are too high to do anything else.

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I want to mention the story of a 28-year-old man named Ryan. I heard about his story in one of my classes called Drug Behavior. We watched a video about his struggle with alcoholism and his road to recovery. Unfortunately, because his body couldn’t handle the symptoms of withdrawal, he passed away 17 days into his treatment. This story shows the detrimental effects substance abuse can have on someone, if no treatment is sought after. I think Ryan’s story Is a great example of these effects, as well as what familial support can do for someone.

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We can see the physical toll his illness takes on his body, as well as the emotional toll it takes on him and his family. This is important for reiterating the point that familial support is vital in a person’s recovery. While Ryan’s body already had severe, irreparable damage from chronic alcohol use, we could still see the impact his family had on his decision to seek treatment. If families played more of an active role in their loved ones’ recoveries, maybe what happened to Ryan wouldn’t happen to others.

Helping those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders is something very close to my heart. I’ve had many family members and loved ones struggle with both of these things, so learning more about the role families can play in helping loved ones that struggle with either of these things is huge!

For more information on substance abuse or to find help for someone you know, please visit here.

One Reply to “It Takes a Village”

  1. Wow, that is a searing story. I feel like with the opioid epidemic, we are seeing states and municipalities start to take a more comprehensive approach to the issue, blending policing and medical and psychological and sociological and recreational and social responses…and including traditional stakeholders with families and teachers and lawmakers… Maybe the national spotlight on the epidemic will drive real change in policy and treatment that will help people, and I like to think that the interdisciplinary expertise that is being shared around the subject will help us all craft a better solution. Great post on something I know little about, but which, like many, I find so difficult and important right now.

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