Treatment of co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders often involves using counseling and medication. Studies continue to reveal that using medication and counseling together are more effective than using either one alone. The medical or neurochemical focus on treating depression and other mental health disorders has been on the production, preservation, and transmission of neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.
Medications used in mental health seek to regulate neurochemical imbalances. Modern antidepressant medications have few side-effects and are not habit-forming. Most medications must be increased slowly to be therapeutic and take several weeks to achieve maximum effectiveness.
One of the biggest problems in using medications is the lack of patient compliance. There are several common reasons that are given for not adhering to the prescription instructions.These include:
- I quit taking a medication if it’s not working.
- If I am bothered by side effects, I discontinue the medication.
- I didn’t like the way the medication made me feel. I didn’t feel like myself.
- I didn’t agree with the diagnosis, so I’m not going to use the medication to treat it.
- I have discontinued medications because I was using drugs and alcohol again.
Follow the Plan
Medication cannot be prescribed or changed without consulting a physician. If you have been using medications and you feel they are out of balance, address the problem right away by making an appointment or calling your doctor. Never try to make changes in medications by yourself. Like so many things in life, medications can be helpful when guided by an expert.
Finding the right medication, using it according to the plan, and following through consistently over time can make an enormous difference in the treatment of mental illness and establishing long-term recovery.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!