Drug Addiction

Drug Addiction

An Overview of Disease Concept

Addiction can be of any kind, chemical or non-chemical. As far as chemical addiction is concerned, which involves the use of psychoactive substances, it can have a profound effect not only on a person’s health but on his life in general. It’s a chronic, relapsing ‘brain disease’ that is characterized by compulsive use of and searching of an addictive substance despite knowledge about its damaging consequences.  It is considered as chronic-disease because the brain shows distinct changes after substance use that can persist long after the use of that substance has been stopped. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured, but it can be managed with pharmacotherapy and counseling interventions.

Psychoactive substance use continues to be a global problem. With reference to a survey report presented in 2012 by Office of United Nations dealing with Drugs and Crime—UNODC, it was documented that 162-324 million people between ages 15 and 64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. A significant number of people who use psychoactive substances develop Substance Use Disorders.

People start using psychoactive substances for a variety of reasons, which includes; curiosity because friends are doing it, to feel good, to celebrate, to feel better and to do better. Moreover, some people use the substance to lessen the feelings of depression, stress or physical pain while others utilize it to enhance attention, to experience spiky, or to achieve the superior athletic feat. No matter what a person’s motive is to start a drug, no individual ever plans to become addicted! People who use psychoactive drugs generally start for the sake of trying one time. Every person who has a substance use disorder starts out as a rare consumption which initially appears as a voluntary act and a controllable decision. As time passes and the use continues, a person can go from voluntary use to compulsive use.

There are four main types or classes of drugs; stimulants, opioids, depressants, and hallucinogens. These substances are based on the substance’s primary effects on CNS. Stimulants like cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine, and caffeine increase the activity of the CNS. They tend to increase heart rate and breathing and offer a sense of euphoria. Opioids e.g.  Heroin, Opium, Demerol, selectively depress the CNS, these analgesics reduce pain and tend to induce sleep. Depressants e.g. Alcohol, Barbiturates, Benzodiazepines, decrease the activity of the CNS, they tend to decrease the heart rate and breathing and offer a relaxed, sometimes sleepy, sense of well-being or euphoria. Hallucinogens like Ecstasy, Mushrooms, and LSD produce a spectrum of vivid sensory distortions and markedly cause changes in mood, temper and thought patterns. The above-mentioned classification has been provided for a general guideline, not all drugs fit neatly into four classes, for example, Cannabis and inhalants don’t fit into any of these four classes.

Moreover, studies have demonstrated that women are more sensitive to the consumption and long-term effects of drugs that are men. For example, women who drink are at greater risk than men for developing cirrhosis and other medical problems.

In a nutshell, addiction is both an individual and a family disease. When one of the family members has an addiction problem, the whole family suffers. The social stigma associated with addiction leaves the person and his family nowhere.


Written By:

Rabia Ejaz

Clinical Psychologist,

Neuropsychology Center Pakistan


Edited By:

Mehwish Mursaleen

Senior Clinical Psychologist


What To Expect When You Start Therapy?

What To Expect When You Start Therapy?

Therapy is a term most people are either unfamiliar with or assign wrong meaning to. I am here today to clear some misconceptions people have when they approach a therapist or think about starting therapy.

First, I will like to talk about the stigma attached to it. Therapy is a process through which you heal and it is not something to be ashamed of. When you fall ill, you take medicine. If you have a fever you don’t hear people say “don’t go to the doctor, what will the society say?” and even if you do hear them, does that stop you from getting the treatment you need? Or if a loved one is ill, do you stop their treatment based on how people will react once they get to know that you went to the doctor for it? No, you don’t do that because doing this is in no way helpful for you or your loved one. Similarly, mental disorders or psychological issues are a problem you are going through. Hear me clearly please, it’s a problem YOU are GOING THROUGH. YOU are not the problem, rather you are GOING THROUGH. Please remind yourself or anyone you know who is going through something.

So basically, therapy is a type of treatment that you need to resolve that problem. Let’s focus on two questions first;

  • Why do I need medication?
  • Why do I need therapy?

You need medication because in some psychological disorders therapy alone doesn’t work. Psychological stress is a real thing and it can and it does alter the chemical balance of our brain. When that happens, the first step is always to restore that balance. And that is why we need medication. Simply take the example of blood pressure. When someone is suffering from chronic high blood pressure, changing their lifestyle or diet is not going to help them immediately. What they need at that time is medication, to control the blood pressure. And once it’s under control that when the doctors tell them to manage their diet, have a healthy lifestyle etc.

That’s why therapy is also important. Therapy is a process that involves you realizing your problem, you realize the changes that need to happen and you implement those changes. One might ask, then why do we need a therapist when all the work is based on us? And that’s a good question. A therapist is fully educated and trained on how to help you realize all these steps. Most of the time people come to therapy based on some basic issues like anger, communication difficulty or stress. However, over the course of therapy, they become aware of what exactly is the root cause of these issues and then they along with their therapist discuss strategies and techniques to resolve those root cause issues. That’s why you need therapy, so you can actually resolve and change. Your therapist will listen to all your thoughts, they will help you realize your difficulties and help you on the way to recovery. Therapy is a safe zone, secure and without any judgment. All your details are confidential. It’s a binding pact with your therapist

Disclaimer: Your therapist is not going to act like a friend or a caregiver. They are there to treat you and heal you. They are not there to judge you. They are not there to gossip with you. They are professionals, your doctors.

Most of the time people start therapy with the idea that it’s going to be about them sharing and their therapist will help them by listening. Well, that just one part of the whole process. Therapy is about slowly and gradually removing all the layers of your personality. You will come to face yourself in a secure environment. I don’t want to sound scary because that’s not really my purpose here. What I want is to let people know that after the sharing part, comes another phase; a phase where you actually have to put in the effort to change. Think of it this way, you travel through specific routes to reach a certain destination, right? How do you expect to change your destination if you never change the route? So yes, in order to take help and get better, you need to put in the real effort to change as well. Change your unhealthy route to a healthier one and reach a better destination.

The change part is tough and needs constant motivation but you can do it. As humans, adapting to change is in our nature. But sometimes, it becomes a struggle. And it requires patience. You cannot expect to change after a week or two. No, it took ages for you to develop some unhealthy habit. You cannot expect to change it in a minute. Be patient with yourself and the process. Motivation and patience are two really important rules in therapy. Always remember that everyone has their own pace. Just because someone did something in half the time, doesn’t make them superior. Take your time but remember to put effort, even the slightest effort counts.

Another important thing is your outlook on your own self. When things are constantly going wrong and your issues are not getting resolved, it’s very easy to come up with a perception of yourself which isn’t that good. As a client, people tend to slide into the “victim” role. They keep on dwelling on the “why did this happen with me?” part. See, this is a spiraling trap. One in which we all fall from time to time, but if you become comfortable here, that’s when the problem starts. Because if you keep thinking that “why this happened or that happened?” or “why bad things only happen to me?” then you are portraying yourself as a victim who lacks control over themselves. This is very far from the truth. You are the only part of your life which you can actually control. You can’t control your situation; you can’t control your family or friends or work life. But you control your own self. Your reactions, your behaviors, your thoughts, and your own well-being, that is all up to you. Another important part of therapy is to realize this control.

Disclaimer (Part Two): if you are someone who has become very comfortable in the victim role, this part will not only be hard to absorb but also hard to work on as well.

Because it’s relatively easy to say that I am helpless and people need to do this and that for me. It’s easier to say that I have no control than to actually start taking responsibility for yourself.

Therapy is a whole process that will help you and heal you for the better. It’s not life won’t have problems once you are done with therapy or there won’t be challenges. But you’ll be stronger mentally and emotionally to deal with all the difficulties in a way that doesn’t leave you reeling but rather makes you look forward to things in life. It’s a treatment like any other treatment for any other medical issue that someone might take. The stigma that people have attached to it makes people not want to take it. But you need to realize that mental health is important and so so so crucial for spending and living a happy, healthy, satisfied life. Your mental well-being or your any of your family member’s well-being is more important than people’s point of view.  Sometimes, we are not even aware of this stigma but trust me it’s those little thoughts like “I don’t need therapy”, “it’s not that serious a problem” and “I can handle this on my own” that show that yes there actually is an issue and yes you are actually stopping yourself from taking treatment due to stigma. I am pointing this out because the stigma is a very real and very huge deal. And it’s not easy to stand up to it, but please put yourself and your family above the opinions of the society or your own fears. Take the proper consultation before the problem gets bigger.

I really hope that this article cleared up some misconceptions about therapy. If there are any other questions, please let me know.

Written By:
Munazzah Mansoor
Clinical Psychologist
Ph.D. Fellow


Coping With Depression

Coping With Depression


Connect and remain associated:

Look for help from individuals who influence you to feel safe and tended to. Converse with one individual about your sentiments.

Do things that influence you to rest easy:

Spend some time in nature, Watch a clever motion picture or most loved TV appear.

Go ahead, Get Moving:

Exercise is something you can do at the present time to help your mindset. Its Increase your vitality levels and enhance rest.

Eat a solid, sorrow battling diet:

Don’t skip suppers and Cut out the garbage nourishments as feasible for sound feel.

Get a day by day measurement of daylight:

Sunlight can help support serotonin levels and enhance your temperament. Along these lines, open yourself to the sun for no less than 15 minutes per day.

Test negative reasoning:

Ignoring positive occasions and concentrating on the negative. Trusting that the way you feel reflects reality (“I feel like such a washout. I truly am no great!”)

Take full breaths:

Inhale and breathe out gradually.

Welcome Laughter:

A great chuckle goes far.

Count to 10 gradually:

Repeat, and tally to 20 if important.

Keep up an uplifting state of mind:

Make a push to supplant negative musings with positive ones.

Adolescent Psychological Issues and the Need for Professional Help

Adolescent Psychological Issues and the Need for Professional Help

In this technological era, where the roles are adapted on the basis of cultural demands, adolescent developmental milestones are achieved quite late during the twenties, therefore, the period of adolescent psycho-sexual and psycho-social development could be considered from age 13 to 20. It starts with the onset of puberty where a sexual orientation and differentiation is introduced through bodily changes.
If an adolescent doesn’t successfully pass puberty it may cause psychological problems such as difficulty in accepting one’s gender, for instance, may result in poor body image. Another trend which is now seen increasingly in adolescent girls is to adapt tomboyish look. If we find in-depth reasons, it connects with primitive experiences, such as a girl in childhood living among many brothers, observing gender discrimination, watching that her brothers gained more favours from parents and society, or listening to gender-based comments such as boys are stronger than girls. If adolescent forms such kind of perceptions and ideologies, the sense of self and identity becomes distorted. In extreme cases, they may develop gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder. During an adolescent crisis, dissatisfaction with one’s own genitals may further lead to sexual difficulties or psychological impotence.
Keeping recent trends in mind it is also evident that some adolescents who don’t feel satisfied with their gender attempt to change their gender by undergoing surgeries as we see many transgenders who deliberately choose this style of life. Other traumatic or early sexual experiences along with difficult puberty may also lead to sexual disorders in adulthood such as hypoactive desire disorder, sexual aversion, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and many others. Regarding career choices, an adolescent who couldn’t successfully attain the developmental tasks may acquire occupational choices other than gender suitability such as adolescent boy becoming more interested towards female fashion designing fields.

Some deviant career choices with this particular sexual identity crisis can include those sex sellers or prostitutes. Other abnormalities with respect to adolescent psycho-sexual and social attainments may include simple role confusions such as a female adopting dominant role in a family, going for a job while husband remains at home to take care of children. This could be primitively related to adolescence stage where a female felt inferior to males and to compensate this inferiority complex she adopts a powerful role in future. Similarly, an adolescent boy who observed a more dominant role of a mother compared to an inept father, he later in life may adapt female roles or may remain submissive just like his father was.
All of such issues are those requiring clinical attention. The period of youth is important in many regards. Youth is the period on which a person’s future is based. It is the period where an adolescent requires support and proper guidance. It is the alarming sign and it is the time to cater all of the above-mentioned issues related to the adolescent crisis before it’s too late.
During the adolescent period if parents observe any of these signs in their children then they must take steps. They may approach health workers, psychologist, psychiatrist, or any relevant professional to take proper guidance regarding how to deal adolescents with such issues. They may refer a child for psychotherapy where a therapist can help deal with such cases. Online counselling is now available to guide parents and adolescents regarding such issues. You can approach our trained professionals of this field by registering yourself for online counselling.
Written By:

Dr Mehwish Mursaleen
PhD Clinical Psychology

Attention Deficits and Hyperactivity in Children: Guidelines for the Parents

Attention Deficits and Hyperactivity in Children: Guidelines for the Parents

Parental guidance is one of the crucial steps in treating children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) symptoms. Without parental training, a child cannot be treated fully. If you are taking a therapeutic treatment for your ADHD child from a clinical psychologist you would be aware of this fact. Because parents are the first institution, a child learns many things from them, which is apparent in their life ahead. If parents treat their child appropriately in initial childhood years there are reduced chances of developing attention deficits and hyperactivity. Even if the child has developed symptoms, appropriate parental handling can create a difference.

Therapists treating children with ADHD give particular instructions to their parents for how to deal with behavioral issues. However, some of the necessary steps parents can take are mentioned here.
Child’s daily functioning would improve if he/she is provided with proper home base training for instance, train the child regarding mannerism and following rules such as how to sit quietly in a classroom or while studying at home, listen attentively to what is being taught, how to behave with other children, refrain from picking up other’s possessions etc.

Develop your child’s friendship skills e.g., teach the child how he/she needs to behave if he/she wants to make a best friend. Involve the child in play activities or games which require sitting quietly and following rules such as, Ludo, Carom board etc. Tell the child clearly about the consequence when he/she doesn’t wait for the turn. Teach the child how to initiate and end conversations with people if he/she wants to get a friendly response.

Parents must help and encourage their child to practice and develop above-mentioned skills and do provide the child various opportunities so that he/she can acquire a better quality of life.
Encourage the child when he/she does well on tasks and give feedback immediately after completion of a task. It will develop your child’s abilities and help him/her understand the link between his/her own efforts and success.

Some of the helpful tactics parents can apply during their home base training are as follows:

  • Create a to-do list of homework and household chores for the child so that he/she can follow it.
  • Give your child simple and clear instructions. For example, if you want the child to do homework then Instead of saying “Finish your homework”, you can say what specific things you want him to do such as, “Finish your English lesson. Then write down in a paragraph what you have read. Finally, do your maths sums”.
  • Organize your child’s clothes and school work so that they are always in the same place and easy to find.
    • Get into a routine. Having a sense of order and routine helps inattentive children stay focused. Follow the same schedule every day. Such as wake-up, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, put on your uniform etc.
  • Paste the schedule in a central place, such as the main hallway of your house.
  • While doing homework, turn off the TV, computer, radio, video games or other distractions.
  • Give the child a reward for finishing his/her homework or other responsibilities. You might offer the child to take a trip to the zoo or may offer a chocolate etc.

Do utilize these strategies in your daily routine if you are dealing a child with ADHD. For expert opinion regarding specific behavioral problems of children and guidance on how to deal the specific issues, you can contact us directly.
Written By:

Dr. Mehwish Mursaleen
Ph.D. Clinical Psychology

Is Yawning Contagious?

Is Yawning Contagious?

Revealing the Logic of Our Brain behind Irrational Yawning Behavior
You must have experienced or listened by someone that yawning is contagious. You might be exposed to various comments regarding this phenomenon. You might have observed that if someone else is yawning you also tend to yawn. Is the sound of a yawn contagious? Have you ever experienced anyone watching a video or picture of a yawning person tend to yawn instantly? If someone yawns while observing others yawn must be sleepy? Is he getting bored? Because we are social beings so is the yawning transferred socially? These and many other questions regarding the phenomenon of yawn were existing in everyone’s mind. Do you know this debate is now under research and scientific observation? Yes! this is true. Just like everyone, this topic developed curiosity in scientists who observed this phenomenon under scientifically controlled settings.

One of the research conducted during 2013 by researchers in Switzerland who studied this matter. In Zurich University, they gathered 11 volunteers and showed them 3 different kinds of videos i.e. one containing laughing incidents, another containing neutral situations, and a video of yawning person. While the participants were watching videos, their fMRI was recorded. It was found that more than half of the participants who watched other persons yawning in the video were more likely to yawn as they watched the video. The brain area called inferior frontal gyrus was highlighted while they yawned. Whereas, those who were watching videos of laughing or neutral acts showed no activity in this area of the brain. This interesting study revealed brain area to be responsible for making a mirror image in brain cells (through mirror neurons) which tend to be imitated by the person (i.e. the person yawns in response to a yawn).
You can test this with a simple experiment. Visualize an image of a person yawning. Just maintain your focus on the image. Observe what happens. You will be surprised even while reading this article unconsciously some people tend to yawn. You may also tend to yawn unintentionally while visualizing, hearing, or reading about yawn.

There is more to study about the yawning phenomenon. Animal studies have been conducted to gain more insights about the facets of yawning. An article published in Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience revealed more aspects of contagious yawning with respect to social, evolutionary and neuroscience links of human behaviors. In an Italian Zoo, neuroscientists observed twenty-one baboons with respect to behaviors such as yawning, sleeping, nurturing, priming, and walking. They found that not merely observing other baboons led them to yawn, but their yawning behavior was more related to the time they spend in nurturing and grooming of each other. Thus, it is more about the connection, affection, and closeness in the relationship which determines their contagious yawning behavior.

The interesting findings regarding the phenomenon of contagious yawning are opening doors for many other facts. If the mirror neurons play a role in contagious yawning and this behavior is further related to social familiarity and the degree of closeness among creatures, there might be indications that mirror neurons can also show links with imitation or understanding of other person’s experiences. Empathy is the state where a person can put himself in the other’s shoes. Can there be a link between mirror neurons and the development of empathy? We await further discoveries to unleash the topic.

Written By:

Dr. Mehwish Mursaleen

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology

Source: Psychology Today

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