UNAM opens addiction treatment center in University City

This new Center aims to provide better tools to tackle substance abuse in the University's community
UNAM opens addiction treatment center in University City
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
11/03/2018
14:56
Teresa Moreno
Mexico City
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The explosive hike in use of illegal drugs, that is, the tendency to consume large amounts of drugs and mixing them with other substances, say, over the weekend, amongst university students is of great concern, according to experts of the new Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Center of the National Autonomous University (UNAM).

This new Center was founded to provide medical care exclusively to the members of the UNAM's community, from employees to secondary, undergraduate, and graduate students.

Those seeking treatment at the center will receive confidential medical attention by psychiatrists specializing in addictions, social workers, and psychologists specializing in behavioral therapy, according to Silvia Ortiz León, head of the Psychiatry and Mental Health Department of the Faculty of Medicine.

The expert highlighted the department has provided mental care to students for over six decades and that each year they offer 1,500 new consults and 10,000 follow-ups.

According to Ortíz Leon, the treatment is multidisciplinary so that patients are able to have better tools to fight addictions and identify problems affecting them as individuals and their family environment – with support provided to the family.

The Center is located in the facilities of the Psychiatry and Mental Health Department, and is expecting to receive young people between the ages of 12 to 30 – the group most vulnerable to addictions.

According to Juan Pablo de la Fuente, a collaborator at the Center, in addition to substance abuse there are some cases of patients who are also suffering from depression, attention deficit or hyperactivity, which greatly impacts their academic development.

However, he claims one of the greatest obstacles students have in seeking medical attention is the stigma of going to a psychiatrist, which has a negative connotation for many.

“What we do is to encourage self-assessments: 'Do I have a problem with substance abuse?' 'Is there another way to deal with the problems of stress of every-day life, my studies, and other situations?' We won't tell them they have a problem or what they have to do; treatment is proactive because patients need to have an active participation regarding their follow-up.”

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