Depersonalization Disorder in Former Addicts
TÍTULO: Trastorno de despersonalización en ex adictos
AUTHOR: Carlos Sirvent1 and Laura Fernández
SOURCE: Addiction. Research & Therapy
KEYWORDS: Prevalence; Depersonalization; Derealization; Addiction; Evaluation; Dishabituation; Rehabilitation; Former addiction
Many former addicts who have not been taking drugs for a while suffer from the so-called depersonalizationderealization disorder (DPD-DR) –a peculiar sensation of unreality and strangeness towards the environment, something like “living in a permanent dream”. It is not an altered conscious state but a different conscience of the world which makes the individual become a virtual spectator of a life that sometimes looks real to them, and sometimes looks illusory.
Nearly all studies on the depersonalization-addiction binomial refer to current drug addicts, but there are no studies on former addicts.
Objective: To find out the prevalence of depersonalization-derealization disorder in former addicts.
Method: 68 former addicts were compared with 59 individuals from the control group. CDS (Cambridge Depersonalization Scale) scale, version CDS-11, and DES (Dissociative Experiences Scale by Bernstein & Putnam)
scale were applied.
Results: Nearly 25% of drug-free addicts (former addicts) suffer or have suffered from severe depersonalization disorder (DES scale). If we consider mild depersonalization disorder, the number rises up to 43.55% (DES scale) and 19.38% (CDS-11 scale). It should be noted that DPD-DR prevalence in the general population is 1.5%.
Conclusions: Depersonalization-derealization disorder is a surprise both for former addicts and their relatives, as well as for the clinical staff, who is usually unaware of this phenomenon and can mistake it for nostalgia towards the consumption environment. Who knows how many drug-free or former addicts have been victims of a mistake by their
therapist? DPD-DR can be overcome through an adequate intervention in 3-6 months from onset. We think healthcare
professionals should be well aware of this phenomenon.