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While Jamie, a former Saugus High School student, spoke to a class about her personal battle with drug addiction, Dr. Punyamurtula Kishore focused on the medical side.
Kishore, who has treated 133 Saugus families for drug addiction during 2003 alone, said that drugs "hijack" a person's brain. Once a person begins using drugs, small changes take place in the brain and gradually increase over time. Most changes are permanent.
Some of the medical issues having to do with addiction, Kishore said, include dependency, compulsion, withdrawal and relapse.
He asked the class to tell him what the stages of addiction are - experimental, occasional, situational, intense and compulsive. With these stages can come misuse, abuse, bingeing, dependency and damage.
To deal with the stress of addiction, Kishore offers his patients access to a multi-disciplinary staff comprised of physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers. This team administers "de-addiction" treatment, a process that treats emotional and physical addiction.
Patients also have access to home detoxification, which allows patients to maintain their dignity while learning how to cope with the temptations found in their own environments.
Addictive drugs can be taken by nose, mouth and skin and can include alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cocaine, crack, speed, ecstasy, Special K, Ocycontin and meth-amphetimines. Others include pain killers such as Vicodin, Klonopin and Percocet, and even coffee and caffeine.