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Finding an Addiction Specialist in Georgia

Finding the right psychiatrist for you that understands the addiction process, who can perform accurate comprehensive evaluations, develop a successful treatment plan and has decades of experience that can meet your specific needs and issues often involves a long frustrating search. Finding a psychiatrist who is also an Addiction Specialist dramatically shortens the list of potential psychiatrists.

Addiction Specialists Board Certified

Addiction psychiatry is a sub-specialty of psychiatry with certification given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Only psychiatrists may receive the addiction psychiatry sub-specialty certificate after meeting specific additional criteria and a certification examination.

Addiction Specialist Certification

A psychiatrist who is a specialist in addiction has professionally demonstrated the knowledge and skill to provide prevention, screening, intervention as well as the treatment for substance use and addiction. Any recognized psychological and physical complications of addiction are also addressed in the treatment plan. Addiction may include one or multiple types of substance abuse including either illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol, or prescription medications.

Addiction Medicine

Psychiatrists who dedicate themselves to improving the quality of provided treatment, keeping up-to-date on current education and research data, educate others and promote the comprehensive care of patients with addiction may hold membership in The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). The ASAM is the leading addiction medicine professional society in the U.S. for those professional who focus on addiction and its treatment.

Board Certified Psychiatry

While physicians or psychologists need to be licensed, they can legally practice without having board certification. Board certification is an additional voluntary process where competence in a specialty area is demonstrated, where testing by peers has proven the level of skill and knowledge is at the very top of the medical profession. Board certified psychiatrists are often seen as leaders in their field who help shape the course of their medical profession for years to come.

Addiction Specialist Locally

Dr. Darvin Hege, psychiatrist, located in the Atlanta area, is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, as well as The American Society of Addiction Medicine, with more than 25 years of successful addiction evaluation and treatment. Call the office for a confidential appointment and put an end to your frustrating search for the right addiction specialist.

New Year’s Resolutions Include Mental Health

It is time once again to start thinking about setting New Year’s resolutions. While most people plan to work on or accomplish many great goals which include weight loss, working out, eating healthier meals, or quitting smoking for example, few think about setting mental health New Year’s resolutions.

Mental Health New Year’s Resolutions

Working to achieve or improve one’s own mental health is as equally important as becoming physically healthier. In fact, becoming more mentally clear, stable, or generally “happier” in life can have an impact on general health and feelings of well-being. It may seem easier to stop smoking, find a new job, make new friends, lose weight, or achieve any other goal you are working toward when your mental health is at its optimum level.

Changing “I Should” to “I Would Like”

With the New Year upon us it is a great time to take stock of how you are doing, or how you are feeling, as well as looking at where you may like to make a change. Mental health resolutions are positive goals – think of any changes you want to achieve as “I want to be,” or “I would like to be.” Avoid telling yourself that you “should” do this or you “should” do that as you are working to improve an aspect of your life, not judging current behaviors.

New Year’s Resolutions About You

When thinking about what resolutions to work on in the new year, make your mental health a priority. While losing weight or quitting smoking are very positive goals, remember that your mental health can make a big difference on how you and your family enjoy the new year together.

Mental Health Psychiatrist

Do something nice for yourself – make an appointment where any mental health issues you may be experiencing can be accurately evaluated and treated. Call the office for a convenient confidential appointment and put all your new year resolutions on the positive track to live better and feel better.

Mental Illness Affects 1 in 4 Americans

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, the number of Americans experiencing at least one episode of mental illness over the past year continues to rise, up to 46%. The National Institute of Mental Health published a statement that 25% of North Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental condition. Along with a rise of those with a mental health disorder is a documented increase, of up to a third, in the number receiving treatment.

Global Mental Health Conditions

The most common mental health disorders which are diagnosed globally include anxiety, addiction, eating disorders, depression, ADD/ADHD spectrum, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and schizophrenia. Recent studies show that mental disorders and substance abuse are the leading cause of non-fatal illness worldwide.

Mental Illness Criteria

Looking at the criteria established by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), research of the National Institute of Mental Health found that 46% of adults were found to have at least one mental illness within the categories of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, impulse-control disorders, and substance use disorders. While the percentage indicates those with at least one disorder, most met the criteria for more than one diagnosis.

Common Mental Illness Categories

The mental illness categories reviewed fall into four broad groupings, with American adults having at least one, if not more, mental health disorder within one of these four categories at some point in their lives.

  • Anxiety Disorders including all types of anxiety, phobia, PTSD
  • Mood Disorders which include major depression and bipolar disorders
  • Impulse-Control Disorders which include various behavioral issues, ADHD
  • Substance Use Disorders including alcohol and drug abuse

Mental Illness Diagnosis and Treatment

Receiving an accurate diagnosis and treatment for your mental illness can change your daily struggles into living your life with a positive outlook and plan. Call Dr. Hege for a convenient appointment that meets your busy life schedule.

Chantix Neutralizes Nicotine’s Effect

Smoking related disease result in nearly 6 million deaths every year with tobacco claiming a human life every 5 seconds somewhere in the world. In the U.S. more than 16 million Americans lives with a smoking related disease. In addition, smoking accounts for 1 out of every 5 deaths in the United States. Chantix is a medication prescribed to help those addicted to nicotine stop smoking and begin living without the health risks and financial burdens directly related to smoking.

Chantix Helps People Quit Smoking

Chantix, varenicline tartrate, is a prescription medication that was developed specifically to assist those who want to quit smoking. Chantix has two unique qualities and works on two levels:

  • It mimics nicotine, giving the feeling of mild nicotine effects while it helps ease withdrawal symptoms
  • It blocks nicotine from binding with the nicotine receptors in the brain so that the smoker does not get a “nicotine boost or kick” making smoking feeling flat, bland or no longer pleasurable

Nicotine’s Effect on Brain Chemistry

Nicotine effects the brain’s chemistry within 7 seconds of the first puff on a cigarette. Nicotine attaches to receptors that not only affect breathing, and heart rate, but also influence other neurotransmitters that effect appetite, mood, and memory. When nicotine attaches to its brain receptors, dopamine is released, which is thought to be responsible for reinforcing the pleasure/reward associations with smoking.

Chantix Breaks Cycle

The chemical process that occurs with smoking is tied to nicotine addiction. Since the effects of nicotine on the brain wear off within minutes, smokers continue to “dose” themselves throughout the day to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to continue to feel the pleasurable effects of nicotine. Chantix may take hours to wear off easing withdrawal complaints; in addition, Chantix blocks the “feel good” dopamine boost if a person does smoke while taking Chantix.

Side Effects of Chantix

Some of the most common side effects reported include nausea, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, GI upset, trouble sleeping, changes in taste, feeling dizzy, or difficulty concentrating. Your psychiatrist can help you manage any side effects experienced with other medication, nicotine replacement treatments, cognitive behavioral therapy, or adjunct therapy resources.

Stop Smoking Doctor

If you want to become an ex-smoker and enjoy the health and financial benefits that other non-smokers experience, call the office for a confidential appointment today.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Can Be Risky

Digital health smartphone apps have shown unprecedented growth in the medical field along with the development of mHealth (mobile health) technology. Psychiatry and mental health services are enjoying the potential of mHealth technology with Mobile mental health apps that put personal health information into easily accessible smartphones, smart watches, and personal health monitoring sensors.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Risk

With the explosion of smart apps that can be found and downloaded from the App Store or Google Play for example, come the question of the usefulness and risk of these mobile mental health apps. The majority of apps for mental health have been developed without research, lack of scientific evidence that shows proof of effectiveness, or may have poor protection of your personal data.

Mobile Mental Health Apps Evaluation

Digital health technology is still fairly new; however, the American Psychiatric Association has taken a proactive step by developing an App Evaluation Model to help guide clinicians and patients in the quality of a mobile mental health app or mHealth tool being considered.

Five Steps in App Evaluation Model

The APA’s App Evaluation Model has five steps where each step is a foundation for the next level. It is important to evaluate each app to make an informed decision before “trying it out.” Apps that make it through the fourth and fifth step are worth your consideration and review by you and your therapist for functional use in your treatment program.

Five Steps of Review in App Evaluation Model

  1. Background Information: Is there a fee for the app or is it free? If free how does it support its development? Who is the developer? Is there advertising within the app? What platforms does it work with? When it was last updated and what were the updates (security, glitches, added services, etc.)? Are there in-app purchases or upgrades?
  2. Risk, Security, and Privacy: Is there a privacy policy? What data is being collected? Is personal data de-identified? Can you opt-out of data collection? Are cookies placed on your device? What data is shared? Who is it shared with? Can your information be sold to third parties? Is data kept on the device or uploaded to the web or cloud? What are the security measures? Is data encrypted? Is the app HIPAA compliant?
  3. Evidence: If your app review has proven acceptable for the first two levels, then it is time to evaluate evidence for potential benefits. What does the app claim to do versus what it actually will do? Are there any peer reviews or published evidence about the tool or science behind the app? Is there any feedback from users available? Does the app appear to be of value for your needs?
  4. Ease of Use: Is it easy to access? Can it be used on a long-term basis? Can you customize the features? Do you need an active internet connection to use? Does it work on the platforms that you have? Is it appealing and simple to use? Apps that are difficult to understand or manage will most likely fail to be used.
  5. Interoperability: Can it work with other electronic tools and devices? Can you export or print the data from the app? Can you upload the data to an electronic health record that your psychiatrist or medical professional can use?

mHealth Psychiatric Treatment

Dr. Hege is a leader in offering convenient options such as video psychiatry, evening or weekend treatment scheduling, and use of new technology in providing the best psychiatric treatment available to you. Call the office today for a comprehensive evaluation of your needs. You may qualify for video sessions, so if that interests you please be sure to ask about it.

Abnormal Behavior and Failure to Function

There is no sharp line between what is considered normal or abnormal behavior; however, mental health professionals often look at how a person is able to function in society. When a person is unable to cope with life demands or perform the behaviors and tasks necessary for daily living, such as self-care, or meaningful interaction with others, they may be described as exhibiting abnormal or dysfunctional behavior.

Abnormal Behavior and Failure to Function

The following characteristics can be used to determine if a person is displaying a failure to function adequately. While experiencing any one from the list below may indicate the person may benefit from a psychological assessment and possible treatment, displaying several of these behaviors may be causing enough of a disruption in life that other people are recommending either medical or psychiatric evaluation.

  • Maladaptive behaviors or being a danger to themselves or others
  • Unpredictability and loss of control
  • Irrational behavior
  • Behaviors that cause others to be uncomfortable
  • Feeing personally distressed over behaviors
  • Behaviors that violate social, cultural, or moral standards
  • Feeling like you are suffering emotionally
  • Expressing incomprehensible or distorted thoughts or ideas
  • Behaviors or ideas that occur only rarely in society

Normal Behaviors in Comparison to Abnormal Ones

It is sometimes easier to define what is normal and look at what deviates from that point.  When looking at characteristics considered necessary to mental health the following list includes criteria that can be regarded as a base point for normal or ideal:

  • Positive view of self
  • The capability for growth and development of self
  • Feeling of autonomy and independence
  • Accurate perception of reality
  • Positive friendships and relationships
  • Ability to meet the changing demands of day-to-day life situations

Abnormal Psychiatric Evaluations

If you or your loved ones feel you are having difficulty functioning in daily life, are finding your behaviors and thoughts distressing, or are experiencing trouble in social situations, call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment today and bring your life back to a comfortable place.

Video Psychiatry Brings Sessions to You

The world today is fast paced, with often hectic and stressful schedules. Use of technology with smart phones, Wi-Fi tablets, Skype, and interactive video conferencing have transformed the way we live our lives and impact on how we connect personally, socially and professionally with others. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports Video Psychiatry, also called Tele-psychiatry, has become an accepted option in this high-tech world we live in. It may be a good option for you!

Ease of Access for Video Psychiatry

The availability to access video psychiatry sessions is more than a convenience and viable option to receiving needed mental health services – live video psychiatry sessions bring mental health services to those who are unable to travel due to medical, physical or emotional limitations, to those who are out of town, who have family or work obligations that make it difficult to schedule a workable time to come into the office.

Technology and Security of Video Sessions

Video psychiatric sessions can be set up from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection. Smart phones, laptops and computers can all be utilized for a session. The application used during set up of your session is secure and meets the federal government HIPAA requirements keeping your medical and personal privacy information safe.

Starting Video Mental Health Sessions

Dr. Hege, a leader in expanding his psychiatric practice to meet the needs and lifestyles of his patients, offers video psychiatric sessions. To receive this therapy option the doctor does require an initial in-office evaluation to determine what treatment plan will be most effective for you. While video sessions may be able to be arranged to begin by the second visit, some medical or psychological issues may require additional in-office visits — or may not be eligible. Be sure to ask about video sessions if this is something that interests you.

Georgia Video Psychiatry Appointments

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment and evaluation of your needs. Weekend and evening appointments available. See if video psychiatry sessions are the right fit for you and your lifestyle.

Quit Smoking and Manage Withdrawal Symptoms

Addiction to nicotine is a difficult dependence to give up, and many smokers find themselves trying to quit smoking and kick the habit over and over again. Working with a knowledgeable mental health professional who can prescribe medication to not only help you quit, but help you manage withdrawal symptoms may be the only way you can finally succeed and break the hold nicotine has on your life.

Quit Smoking Statistics

If you are a smoker who wants desperately to quit smoking but have been unable to succeed on your own, you are not alone:

  • 70% of smokers want to quit
  • 40% of smokers will try to quit this year
  • 7% of those who try to quit will actually succeed on their first try; 93% will not
  • 50% of those who quit will relapse after drinking alcohol
  • 5% of smokers are able to quit cold turkey

If you are one of the 93% who are unable to quit the first time, second time, or successive times, it is time to seek the professional help you need in order to become an ex-smoker.

  • 90% of those who quit smoking before the age of 30 reduce their rate of death related to smoking
  • 50% of those who quit before the age of 50 reduce their rate of death from smoking

Signs of Severe Smoking Dependence

Smokers who are seriously dependent on nicotine may exhibit one or more of the following signs:

  • Smoking more than 1 pack of cigarettes a day
  • Smoking within 5 minutes of waking up in morning or from a nap
  • Continuing to smoke even when sick
  • Waking up at night to have a smoke
  • Smoking to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal

If you have even a couple of these signs of smoking dependence enlisting the aid of an addiction psychiatrist is thebest plan for success in smoking cessation.

Prescription Medications to Stop Smoking

Your psychiatrist has numerous medications available to prescribe and can provide referrals to support and adjunct services when developing your treatment plan to stop smoking, end nicotine addiction, and reduce any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

The medications that may be prescribed include:

  • Chantix (varenicline) – this medication not only lessens the pleasure one gets from smoking by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain; it also reduces the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Chantix helps you lose your craving for smoking and nicotine.
  • Zyban, Wellbutrin or Aplenzin (bupropion) – the medication bupropion is known under three different brand names. It is an extended release anti-depressant that helps reduce cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal.
  • Nortriptyline – this is an older anti-depressant drug that helps reduce tobacco withdrawal symptoms
  • Clonidine – this medication, used to treat high blood pressure has also been shown to help people quit smoking. When used as part of a smoking cessation plan it is often given in pill or skin patch form.
  • Other medications and even anti-smoking vaccines are being tested in Europe and the United States but are not yet FDA approved. Your psychiatrist has access to the most effective medications and strategies for a successful program to quit smoking with the least interference from withdrawal symptoms.

Nicotine Addiction Psychiatrist

If you want to successfully quit smoking call Dr. Hege for a convenient evening or weekend appointment and begin a new life as an ex-smoker.

Opioid Addiction: Will You Become Hooked?

In the United States, approximately 2.5 million people are addicted to opioids. Opioid addiction has become a national concern with states already using a tracking system to enable physicians to check which patient is getting narcotics and if they are “doctor shopping” for medications. In addition, over half of the states in the U.S. are now also limiting the number of days an opioid can be prescribed in an attempt to decrease the numbers of those becoming addicted to, and over-dosing from opioids.

Recent Study on Opioid Addiction 

A recent study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in March of 2017 provided data regarding measurable clues that indicate what your chances of becoming addicted to opioid are. The clues involve the duration of a narcotic prescription and the type of narcotic prescribed. These two clues combined give a measurable indicator of one’s chance of becoming addicted.

Duration of Narcotic Prescription Clue to Addiction

In the study by the CDC reported in their Weekly Report, the duration of a prescription gave clues on how long a person may end up using a narcotic painkiller. Results show that if an opioid is used for only one day, there is a 6% chance of still using that drug a year later. Using that medication for a period of 31 days increases the chance of developing long term opioid use to 29.9%.

Type of Opioid Prescribed Indicator of Addiction Odds

Use of long-acting or extended release opioids were an indicator of developing issues with long term use. People who received a prescription for extended release narcotics had a 27.3% chance to still be using that painkiller a year later, and a 20.5% chance of using it three years later. Comparatively, those adults who were started on a prescription using a short-acting opioid only had a 8.9% chance of addiction one year later and a 5.3% chance three years later.

Opioid Addiction Psychiatrist

Prescription and illegal opioids are commonly abused because they are so addictive. Recovery is often impossible without a good support system and medications that assist with the withdrawal symptoms.

Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment and start the journey back to a full life without the gnawing cravings of opioid addiction.

Withdrawal Drug Antabuse Effective for Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal is a difficult feat to accomplish with the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can torment a person for weeks and weeks. The odds for beating cocaine addiction dramatically increase with proper psychiatric care and cocaine withdrawal medication management. Working with an experienced psychiatrist trained in addiction and recovery can help you reach and maintain recovery from a life controlled by cocaine cravings.

Cocaine Withdrawal Medication Antabuse Effective

Working with a specialist with decades of experience treating patients with primary and secondary substance abuse and addiction issues is paramount to a recovery plan that is successful. One of the medications that may be prescribed to help manage cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms is:

  • Antabuse / Disulfiram: This medication will help to minimize cocaine cravings and has been shown to improve abstinence and the recovery rates during the first three months of recovery. While Antabuse is generally used in the treatment of alcohol abuse it has shown positive results in the treatment of cocaine addiction as well.

Antabuse Effects on Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine primarily affects the neurotransmitter dopamine which directly affects the reward center of the brain – cocaine dramatically increases the level of dopamine in the brain which in turn causes feelings of euphoria that is commonly associated with the drug. In addition to increasing dopamine levels, cocaine increases norepinephrine which makes one feel they are full of energy. Euphoria combined with high energy makes cocaine addiction doubly difficult to recover from.

Use of Antabuse / Disulfiram blocks a specific form of dopamine which is an essential component in the body’s production of norepinephrine; Antabuse has a dual effect on the effects of cocaine use attacking the two main effects it has one the brain and body. Use of Antabuse makes using cocaine an unpleasant experience. While research data is bringing better understanding to the use of Antabuse with cocaine withdrawal, use of this medication is proving to be an effective part of a cocaine recovery treatment plan.

Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Locally

Dr. Hege, a specialist in addiction and recovery, is a psychiatrist with over 25 years of successful treatment experience. The time has come to start on the road to your recovery. Call the office for a confidential appointment and comprehensive evaluation.