Categories
Alcohol Addiction

Short-Term & Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol

For most people, alcohol is not a substance of abuse. It is something we use to relax after a long day, to socialize with friends, or to celebrate special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. In many circles, those who choose not to use alcohol are ridiculed for their abstinence, while those who use it excessively are celebrated as “the life of the party”.

Being the life of the party does not come without a cost, though. Excessive use of alcohol can have far-reaching effects not only on a person’s health, but also on their relationships and financial security.

The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse And Alcohol Addiction

Before we go into how excessive alcohol consumption can affect a person, it is important to make the distinction between alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, although it is inaccurate to do so.

Alcohol addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol that cannot be controlled. The addicted person feels that they have to continue drinking in order to survive. In some cases, this is accurate: unsupervised withdrawal from alcohol can be extremely dangerous, and even fatal.

Alcohol abuse is any problematic use of alcohol. This encompasses several behaviours, including:

  • Use of alcohol that results in violent or aggressive behaviour
  • Exceeding the alcohol consumption guidelines laid out by health authorities
  • Drinking to the point of becoming physically ill
  • Use of alcohol that results in impaired driving or other criminal activity
  • Regular episodes of being under the influence of alcohol

While it is fair to say that people with alcohol addictions have, at some point, engaged in alcohol abuse, the reverse is not always true. Many people who abuse alcohol are able to control their consumption. They may limit their drinking to certain days or occasions, and they do not experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms while sober.

They can still suffer some of the effects of excessive alcohol consumption, though, such as adverse health events and relationship breakdowns.

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use & Addiction has compiled some recommendations for the safe use of alcohol. These include the following:

  • Adults who were assigned female at birth should not exceed a maximum of two drinks on any one day, for a total maximum of 10 drinks per week
  • Adults who were assigned male at birth should not exceed a maximum of three drinks on any one day, for a total maximum of 15 drinks per week
  • People up to the age of 24 should limit consumption to one or two drinks at a time, no more than twice a week
  • No alcohol should be consumed if you are driving a vehicle or operating machinery
  • If you are using prescription medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about alcohol use
  • Avoid consuming more than two drinks in a three-hour period
  • Your own personal risk factors may reduce your limits – for example, your body weight, age, and existence of medical conditions

What does biological sex have to do with consumption guidelines?

Those who are biologically female differ in several respects to those who are biologically male. Females generally have a lower body weight, but their body fat percentage tends to be higher. Since alcohol is stored in fat cells, this could put biological females at higher risk of long-term health effects. In addition, males produce higher amounts of alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, which aids in breaking down alcohol.

Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol

Mood swings

In most adults, the body is capable of metabolizing around one unit of alcohol per hour. Consuming anything over and above that can lead to intoxication. While intoxicated, you may experience the following effects:

  • Impaired motor skills, which can result in accidental injury or death
  • Impaired judgment and lowered inhibitions
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mood swings and the potential for aggression or violence
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness

Except in cases of alcohol poisoning, these effects usually pass when the body has metabolized all of the alcohol. However, during the period of intoxication, your risk of injury or death is significantly higher than it is while you are sober.

Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol

If you regularly consume large amounts of alcohol over a sustained period of time, you could be at risk of serious long-term effects, including the following:

  • Liver disease, including fatty liver, hepatitis, and liver fibrosis
  • Various cancers, including breast, esophageal, colorectal, and throat
  • Heart complications, such as cardiomyopathy, stroke, and irregular heart beat
  • Cognitive effects, including learning difficulty, memory loss, and limited attention span
  • Digestive complaints, including ulcers and pancreatitis
  • Reproductive health problems, such as erectile dysfunction, irregular menstruation, and reduced fertility

The Dangers Of Alcohol Withdrawal

long-term effects of alcohol

If you are concerned about the long-term effects of your alcohol consumption, it is not too late to stop. Some of the effects listed above will start to reverse when alcohol use is discontinued. However, alcohol withdrawal can have serious effects when attempted without medical supervision. The safest way to withdraw is to check in to a detox facility, where you will be under the care of medical professionals who can manage and treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise. At the very least, you should ensure that during your withdrawal, you are with somebody who can get medical care to you should the need arise.

The Use Of Alcohol During Pregnancy

There is a misconception that it is safe for pregnant women to have the occasional glass of wine. However, no safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy has been established. The medical community therefore recommends complete abstinence during pregnancy, and in those who are intending to become pregnant. However, if you were consuming alcohol prior to finding out that you were pregnant, there is no need to worry. If you discontinue all alcohol use, you can still have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

If you consume alcohol throughout your pregnancy, your baby could be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. This can result in a low birth weight, slow growth, heart defects, intellectual disability, poor motor skills, and more.

Alcohol And Lactation

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, alcohol can be passed from a parent into the breast milk they produce. One standard drink per day may be safe as long as the parent does not nurse within two hours of consuming that drink.

Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption or that of a loved one, it is never too late to seek help. At 1000 Islands Rehab Centre, we will create a alcohol addiction treatment program that is tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. We will take care of you at all stages of your recovery, from detox right through to a comprehensive aftercare program for your post-rehab days. To find out more, or to book your stay, give us a call.

Categories
Amphetamine Addiction

What Happens During Amphetamine Rehab Treatment?

Amphetamines were originally marketed as an over-the-counter treatment for nasal congestion. Over time, it also started to be used as a treatment for obesity and depression. Eventually, it became clear that the risks of addiction and long-term effects outweighed any medical benefit. Amphetamine is now a highly controlled substance. Apart from variations that are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), amphetamines are illegal to produce and distribute.

What Is Amphetamine?

Amphetamines are stimulants designed to speed up the central nervous system. They produce a feeling of wakefulness and energy that makes them a popular drug among people who have to stay awake for extended periods of time. They can also give the user a sense of confidence and superiority. Those who are usually quiet may become talkative and excitable.

Non-medicinal amphetamines are highly addictive. The rapid-onset euphoria is followed by a “crash” characterized by insomnia, intense hunger, violent episodes, depression, and suicidal thoughts or actions. People who experience this will often seek out more amphetamine drugs, and they find that they have to take more in order to achieve the same euphoric high they got the first time.

The post-euphoria crash can be overwhelming, and many amphetamine users cope with this by using depressants, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Not only can this create a situation of polysubstance addiction, it can lead to dangerous interactions between drugs.

What Are The Harmful Effects Of Amphetamines?

Amphetamine can produce uncomfortable and dangerous side effects, even after one use. There are also potential long-term risks to physical and mental health.

Short-Term Effects

short-term effects

The short-term effects of amphetamine drugs include the following:

  • Anxiety, irritability and mood swings
  • Obsessive behaviours
  • Abdominal cramping, nausea, and loss of appetite
  • Profuse sweating
  • Rapid heart rate, and fast, shallow breathing
  • Nasal congestion and nosebleeds
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased risk of seizures for those already at risk
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Erratic blood pressure

Long-Term-Effects

Prolonged regular use can lead to the following long-term effects:

  • Cardiovascular problems, including cardiac arrest and stroke
  • A decline in cognitive functioning
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Malnutrition resulting from sustained loss of appetite
  • Psychosis, delusions and paranoia
  • Blood clots, especially in those who crush tablets to inject them

Like any drug that affects the rhythm of the heart, amphetamines come with a risk of fatal overdose. Signs that someone may be experiencing the symptoms of amphetamine toxicity include the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Elevated blood pressure and erratic heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations

In severe cases, amphetamine overdose can lead to heart failure and death.

What Are The Signs That I Need Help For Amphetamine Addiction?

If you can answer “yes” to any of the following statements, it may be time for you to seek help for yourself or a loved one.

  • I have daily cravings to use amphetamines that get in the way of other thoughts
  • I keep having to increase the dosage or frequency of use to get the same effects
  • I am anxious when I do not have access to amphetamines
  • I want to stop using drugs, but I am not able to
  • I continue using drugs in spite of it being harmful to my health, my finances, or my relationships
  • I spend large amounts of time finding or using the drug, or recovering from its effects
  • I experience withdrawal symptoms when I stop using the drugs

signs for amphetamine addiction

What Are The Phases Of Amphetamine Addiction Treatment?

Addiction rehab happens in several phases, and the first step is always the acknowledgement that you need help. In most cases, this is a voluntary admission on the part of the addicted person, but from time to time, people enter rehab programs as a result of court orders or ultimatums from loved ones.

Detox

The first stage of amphetamine addiction recovery is medically supervised detox. Amphetamine withdrawal can be uncomfortable and lead to potentially harmful symptoms, such as depression, mood swings, cravings and insomnia. Some people experience symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and confusion. By undergoing supervised detox, you can go through this process safely, with medical professionals on hand to treat and manage symptoms as they arise.

Rehab

Like most substance use disorders, amphetamine addiction looks different in everyone. Addictions usually have an underlying cause, like a coexisting mental illness, trauma, stress, or troubled relationships. Because everyone’s path to and through addiction is so unique, everyone needs their own customized addiction treatment plan.

The rehab phase of treatment starts with an assessment to determine what your needs and circumstances are, and what kind of program would benefit you the most. Generally, you will have access to a combination of therapies, such as:

  • Individual, group and family therapy
  • Fitness and nutrition counselling
  • Creative therapies that use art, drama, music or dance as forms of expression
  • Mindfulness, meditation and yoga
  • Life coaching
  • Training in skills like communication, time management, and stress management

Over the course of your treatment, your needs will be reassessed, and your goals adjusted as appropriate.

Aftercare

Aftercare is one of the most important parts of recovery. The transition from rehab to the real world can be a time of intense vulnerability for people in addiction recovery, and it is essential that you have the support you need during this time. Your aftercare program may include a 24-hour support line for times of crisis, training on relapse prevention strategies, referrals to programs and professionals in your area, and check-in appointments to monitor the success of your return to real life.

How Can I Get Help For Amphetamine Addiction?

If you are ready to start your journey to recovery, 1000 Islands Rehab Centre is ready to help you. We are located in a beautiful setting far away from the stresses of life, where you can take the time to focus on your healing. To get started, give us a call today.

Categories
Heroin Addiction

How To Prevent Heroin Addiction Relapse

Heroin addiction is a complex condition that can have tragic long-term effects. It can stem from past trauma or present stress, from troubled relationships, and from a feeling of isolation. People who struggle with heroin addiction can lose their jobs, their financial stability, and their relationships with the people they love. They can lose their health, and in some cases, their lives.

As societal attitudes to addiction have evolved, more treatment options have become available to people with heroin addictions. No matter how successful a treatment program is, though, the stresses of life do not just disappear.

The early post-rehab period is when a person in recovery is most susceptible to relapse. It is important to plan for a crisis before the crisis actually happens, so that you can be prepared to deal with challenges without turning to heroin.

How Is Heroin Addiction Treated?

Like most substance use disorders, heroin addiction does not happen in a vacuum. It usually happens as a result of something else: trauma, abuse, stress, relationship difficulties. Addiction often coexists with physical or mental health conditions such as chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and much more.

What this means is that heroin addiction does not look the same in any two people, and in order for treatment to be effective, it should be customized for the person who needs it. Rehab usually takes the form of a combination of therapies that are best suited to the individual, such as individual or group therapy, creative therapies that use music, art or dance, fitness and nutrition counseling, mindfulness and meditation, and family therapy.

What Happens When You Leave Rehab?

Like all good things, rehab has to come to an end sometime. This can be a daunting prospect for those in inpatient rehab programs that are isolated from the real world. There is always the risk that sudden exposure to the stresses of daily life will prove to be too challenging for someone who is fresh out of treatment.

For this reason, it is important to have a plan already in place before you leave rehab. Most addiction treatment facilities have aftercare programs that may include the following:

  • A 24-hour support line to call if you feel that you are in danger of relapse
  • Check-in appointments to monitor how the transition to the outside world is going
  • Education and training sessions
  • Referrals to addiction therapists and services in your area

If you have access to an aftercare program, it is important to avail yourself of it. A wide body of anecdotal evidence indicates that aftercare programs can significantly reduce the chances of relapse.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

emotional relapse

Whether you have an aftercare program available to you or not, it is helpful to know why relapse happens, so you can put plans in place and respond to triggers without using heroin.

Most people regard relapse as an event in time, during which the addicted person physically uses the substance. Relapse is actually a process that takes place over time, in three distinct phases.

Emotional Relapse

The first warning sign that you may be in danger of using the heroin again is the appearance of negative emotions, such as anger, sadness or helplessness. Eating and sleeping patterns may become irregular, and the once-appealing notion of recovery may start to lose its gloss. At this stage, you may not be thinking of using heroin, nor may you realize that you are at risk.

Mental Relapse

People can only handle negative emotions for so long before seeking a way to cope. For people in addiction recovery, this may mean instinctively leaning toward heroin. This phase of relapse can come with intense internal conflict: you want to maintain your sobriety, and yet you also want to use heroin. Eventually, you may start to abandon the notion of sobriety and start to actively think about the logistics of getting and using drugs.

Physical Relapse

Physical relapse tends to happen soon after mental relapse has set in, and it is the point at which you physically ingest heroin. For some people, physical relapse is a one-time event immediately followed by a return to sobriety. For others, it can lead to another stage of active addiction.

What Strategies Can Be Used To Prevent Relapse?

Something that a multitude of physical and mental health conditions have in common is that early detection can prevent a full-blown flare-up. The best way to prevent relapse is to look out for those negative emotions and subtle changes to daily living habits that could be a sign of emotional relapse.

Preventing Or Coping With Emotional Relapse

preventing or coping with emotional relapse

Specific strategies include the following:

  • Ensure that you have a schedule to your day so that boredom doesn’t set in. If you’re not working, take up a creative hobby, learn a new skill, or read that book you’ve been meaning to.
  • Take care of your physical health. This means eating nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and being physically active. Emotional relapse can be triggered by tiredness or a sense of not feeling well.
  • Avoid social isolation. Ensure that you have access to people who can be a positive part of your life. This could be family members, trusted friends, and people you meet at your Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
  • Stay away from people you used drugs with prior to your addiction treatment. They may trigger those negative emotions that could put you on the slippery slope to physical relapse.
  • Keep your therapy appointments. While you are transitioning from rehab to real life, you are re-learning how to go about your daily life. Taking what you learned in rehab and applying it to the big wide world can be overwhelming, and ongoing therapy can help.
  • Consider mindfulness or meditation classes. These can help you teach yourself how to accept negative thoughts and feelings, and then let them go. Not only do these practices reduce stress, they can help you cope better.

Mental Relapse: It’s Not Too Late

If you do progress to the stage of mental relapse, it is not too late to avoid using the substance. Getting through this phase could depend on a simple factor: ensuring that you do not have access to heroin. This will require prior planning. Some things you could consider doing as soon as you are out rehab include the following:

  • Get rid of any drugs or drug paraphernalia that might still be in your house. If you have a history of using other substances along with heroin – such as cigarettes or alcohol – get rid of them too.
  • Make a list of emergency contacts you can call if you feel that you are in danger of relapse. This could include your rehab centre support line and your NA sponsor.
  • Avoid keeping large sums of cash. Consider asking a trusted friend or family member to safeguard your bank card to prevent you from being able to buy heroin on the street.

What If Relapse Happens?

For some people, physical relapse will happen in spite of their best efforts. If this happens to you, you need to remember that relapse does not mean your treatment has failed. As with any illness, you can face setbacks in your addiction recovery. The thing to do is get yourself the help you need, without delay. This may mean a brief stay in your rehab centre, or it could mean a series of outpatient appointments.

You want to avoid relapse if at all possible – but if it happens, it is not the end of the world.

Getting Help For An Addiction

If you are struggling with heroin addiction, either for the first time or after a physical relapse, help is available to you. At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we treat people, not addictions. We will create a customized treatment program that takes into account your unique needs and circumstances. For more information about our programs, or to book your treatment, call us today.

Categories
Heroin Addiction

What Happens During Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that can be ingested by sniffing, smoking or injection. What makes it desirable to users is the rush of euphoria and the feeling of being detached from pain. These effects can produce a strong psychological dependence that leads to users seeking out larger doses of the drug to produce the same effects. Before long, users can find themselves in a position of having to take heroin multiple times a day in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, border restrictions have cut off the supply of several street drugs. During this time, a dangerous mix of heroin and fentanyl has taken hold as the most popular street drug in parts of Ontario and Manitoba. This combination can produce intense, unpredictable effects, and it comes with a high risk of accidental overdose.

If you or someone in your life uses heroin, it is important to know what the short-term and long-term effects are, how to recognize a possible overdose, and how to safely withdraw from the drug and get the help that is needed.

What Are The Effects Of Heroin?

The general effects of heroin are well documented, but in recent years there has been a troubling rise of heroin combined with other substances, often without the user’s knowledge. As a result, the effects can be unpredictable, which poses a challenge for health care professionals responding to possible overdoses.

In addition, many people who use heroin also use other substances like alcohol, and this too can produce effects that are unexpected or unusually intense.

It should also be noted that the effects of heroin depend on several factors, such as the dosage taken, the age and state of health of the user, and the chemical makeup of the drug.

Short-Term Effects

Heroin is used because of the rush of euphoria that it produces. Other less pleasant side effects include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mental “fog”
  • Dry mouth
  • A sensation of weights in the arms and legs
  • The skin feeling warm and flushed or clammy
  • Drifting in and out of full consciousness
  • Decreased respiration

Heroin Overdose

Long-Term Effects

If you take heroin regularly over an extended period of time, you may be at risk of serious long-term effects. These include the following:

  • Heart problems, such as infection or inflammation of the heart lining and valves
  • Complications of the lungs, liver and kidneys
  • Digestive complaints, such as constipation and stomach cramps
  • Menstrual cycles that are irregular or absent
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Disrupted sleep cycles
  • Collapsed veins for those who take the drug through injection
  • Damaged nasal tissue for those who take the drug through sniffing
  • Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or behaviour

What Is The Heroin Overdose Risk?

When heroin is used in high doses, breathing can slow down significantly, resulting in a shortage of oxygen to the brain. This can result in loss of consciousness, and in some cases, this can be fatal.

If you or a loved one are a regular user of heroin, it is important that you keep a naloxone kit nearby. Naloxone is available free of charge in most parts of Canada. It is an opioid antagonist that works by binding to the opioid receptors. This blocks the effect of any opioid drugs that are present, including heroin.

Naloxone should never be regarded as the sole treatment for heroin overdose; instead, buys time for you to get the heroin user to a hospital emergency room.

Heroin Risks To The Unborn Child

The use of heroin during pregnancy can be harmful to both the pregnant parent and the baby. Risks include death during or after childbirth, preterm delivery, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Babies may develop neonatal abstinence syndrome, where they suffer withdrawal symptoms from substances they were exposed to in utero.

Heroin Withdrawal

The withdrawal from heroin can produce symptoms that are uncomfortable and potentially harmful. These symptoms include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, diarrhea, anxiety, hot and cold flushes, and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose.

One of the dangers of heroin is that it is frequently mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances without the user knowing about it. What this means is that withdrawal from heroin may be accompanied by withdrawal of another substance as well.

Safe Withdrawal Via Medical Detox

In order to stay safe during heroin withdrawal, it is recommended that you seek medical detox services. This way, you will have access to medical care throughout the withdrawal process. Symptoms will be treated as they arise, and you will come out of detox in a state of good health, ready to start the rehab phase of your recovery.

What Does Heroin Addiction Treatment Look Like?

A good heroin addiction treatment program is customised to the person who needs it. No two paths to addiction look the same, so the paths to recovery should cater to each individual. Addiction to any substance is rooted in context: it stems from trauma, stress, physical or mental illness, relationship difficulties, or some other cause. In order to treat the addiction, it is important to identify and treat the underlying cause.

Several therapies and methodologies are used in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Therapy

Individual therapy allows you to talk through your issues in a safe, confidential environment. You may also benefit from group therapy, where you can listen to the stories of other people who are struggling, and share your own experiences. Family therapy can help those who are struggling with their relationships with their loved ones.

Mindfulness

Practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training are being used with increasing success in addiction treatment. These are effective tools for creating mental clarity, reducing stress, and improving concentration and self-awareness.

mindfilness

Creative Therapies

Many people need a creative outlet to facilitate their healing. Music, art, dance, and drama therapies provide avenues for self-expression and stress relief. These methods also give people a way to communicate ideas and memories that they are unable to put into words. If you do not feel capable of talking about your feelings, a more creative form of therapy can give you a safe way to work through those difficult emotions.

Health & Wellness

Heroin addiction can do a lot of damage to a person’s health. Most addiction rehab programs include a focus on healthy eating and physical activity, with a view to boosting the immune system and restoring health. With a healthy body, you are far more likely to be able to focus on other aspects of your recovery.

Preventing Relapse

Addiction rehab aftercare is important, especially for those leaving inpatient treatment programs. During rehab, you are in a protected environment, away from your usual stresses and triggers. Once you are back in the real world, you may be susceptible to the same triggers that kept you addicted in the first place. Addiction aftercare programs provide you with support to get you through those difficult times. They may include support lines, training and education, and check-ins with your addiction rehab team.

How To Get Started With Heroin Addiction Treatment

If you need help with a heroin addiction, either for yourself or a loved one, the staff at 1000 Islands Rehab Centre are ready to welcome you. We will provide you with a safe environment that is free from judgment, where you can heal and learn the tools to cope without needing substances. Give us a call at (855) 929-4045. We look forward to being part of your recovery journey.

Categories
Alcohol Addiction

Have Canadians Been Drinking More Alcohol During The Pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives. Our lives pre-pandemic were governed by things like our daily commute and our interactions with people. In COVID-19 times, we are having to plan our lives around lockdowns and restrictions. We are working from home, attending school remotely, and shopping online. Even our healthcare has largely gone virtual, with appointments with doctors and therapists taking place over the phone or via Zoom.

Our daily routines have been turned upside down. Instead of rushing out the door, we are setting our kids up for online classes before settling down in our own hastily assembled home office spaces. Gatherings with friends take place via a computer screen. We cannot go to the gym, so we make do with workouts in our living rooms and walks around the block.

Our consumption of foods and beverages has also changed. A phrase that people have been increasingly using is “pandemic pounds” – the weight gain associated with eating less healthily as a result of being stuck at home. Many of us resort to takeout or microwave meals because we’re tired of constantly cooking for family members who, unlike the “before” times, are home 24/7.

Has this change in consumption extended to alcohol? Are Canadians drinking more wine, beer and spirits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic?

To answer this question, let’s first take a quick look at what “typical” alcohol consumption looks like in Canada.

Typical Alcohol Consumption In Canada

Alcohol is by far the most used and abused substance in Canada. During pre-COVID times, around 77% of Canadians consumed alcohol at least once in a one-year period. At 83%, the highest rate of alcohol use was among young adults aged 20-24. 78% of people aged 25 and older reported alcohol use, and in a troubling trend, 59% of youth aged 15-19 were using alcohol.

Although there has been some variance from one year to the next, these numbers have been relatively stable over the last decade.

Has The Pandemic Changed Alcohol Consumption In Canada?

According to a Statistics Canada survey done in January 2021, 54% of Canadians who consumed alcohol prior to the pandemic have not changed their drinking habits. The remaining number is split roughly evenly between those who have increased their alcohol consumption and those who are drinking less.

When we break down the change in alcohol drinking habits by age, an interesting picture emerges. While increases in alcohol consumption have occurred fairly uniformly across age groups, teens and young adults (ages 15-29) have decreased their consumption at much higher rates than older people.

Another thing that seems apparent is that the pandemic has produced more heavy drinkers. Prior to 2020, 11% of Canadians had at least five drinks on the days they consumed alcohol. By January 2021, this number increased to 18%.

Why The Changes In Alcohol Consumption?

why the changes in alcohol consumption

Human beings are creatures of habit. Even the more adventurous people among us like to have some semblance of order: sleeping at certain times of the day, following some kind of work schedule, buying groceries from a favourite location.

When any singular element of someone’s daily routine changes, other things have to change to accommodate it. If you get a new job, you have to change your morning commute. If you take up exercise, you may have to get up earlier to get to the gym. If you get a dog, you have to buy dog food and set aside time for daily walks.

For most people, alcohol consumption is just part of that daily routine, and it is one of the things that can vary depending on the changes that are going on in one’s life. It is not surprising that for almost half of the Canadian population, the massive routine changes that have come with the pandemic have led to different drinking habits.

Why Are Some People Drinking More During The Pandemic?

Any change – even a positive one – is stressful, and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in complete changes to many people’s lives. According to an April 2020 report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, 94% of Canadians reported that they were staying home more as a result of the pandemic. Major routine changes experienced by many include:

  • Working from home
  • Supervising school-aged children who are learning remotely
  • Reductions in exercise due to fitness centres and pools being closed
  • Shopping for groceries online
  • Eliminating social gatherings
  • Reducing or eliminating travel
  • Spending more time on household chores as a result of everyone being home at all times

The top three reported reasons for increased alcohol consumption are:

  • Lack of a regular schedule resulting from the above-mentioned disruptions
  • Boredom resulting from lack of social interaction
  • Stress resulting from all of the changes plus anxiety about the pandemic itself

Other reasons cited include loneliness and online social gatherings.

Why Are Some People Drinking Less During The Pandemic?

Drinking alcohol is closely linked with social gatherings, especially among younger adults who are more likely to drink alcohol only when they with other people. This could go a long way to explaining why younger adults have cut back on alcohol consumption far more than older people. The lack of opportunities to socialize is by far the number one reason for decreased alcohol consumption.

Other reasons include wanting to be healthy to reduce COVID risks, caring for dependents, and trying to regain health after having had COVID-19.

Alcohol Sales As An Essential Service

alcohol sales as essential service

Throughout the pandemic, the sale of alcohol has been regarded as an essential service in most parts of Canada, including Ontario. Many people have questioned why this is the case. On the face of it, there do appear to be arguments in favour of limiting alcohol sales.

Some countries have taken this approach. In South Africa, for instance, alcohol sales have been banned outright during the most severe phases of lockdown. Two factors have driven this decision: the concern about alcohol-fueled domestic violence incidents while lockdowns make escape difficult for the victims, and the goal of keeping alcohol-related trauma cases out of hospitals that need space for COVID patients.

There is a dangerous risk to this approach, though: by cutting off access to alcohol, we run the risk of everyone with an alcohol addiction going into withdrawal at the same time. Alcohol withdrawal without medical supervision can be extremely harmful – in some cases, fatal. For someone who is addicted, alcohol sales are indeed essential.

It is reasonable to believe that most jurisdictions worldwide responded to the pandemic as best they could with the information and resources available to them. A lesson learned could be that access to alcohol should be balanced with mental health services for people with addictions, and social services for those who are victims or at risk of becoming victims of alcohol-induced crimes. These services should be available to anyone who needs them, regardless of whether there is a global health crisis. If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has done a great job of highlighting areas where these services are lacking.

Why Is The Data Important?

There are those who would argue that these statistics are “just numbers”, and that alcohol addiction is a serious issue regardless of what is going on in the world. And yes, it is true that help needs to be accessible to anyone who needs it, but by having an understanding of the impacts of a major event like a pandemic, policy makers and service providers can create targeted programs and awareness campaigns.

The world was not prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic: by taking the learnings from this experience, programs and response plans can be put in place for any future crises that may arise on a local, national or global scale.

Getting Help For Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

If you think you have a problem with alcohol abuse or addiction – whether it is related to the pandemic or not – it is never too soon or too late to get help. At 1000 Islands Addiction Centre, we will provide medical supervision to enable you to detox safely, and then we will put together a customized alcohol addiction and recovery program that is right for you. Contact us without delay so that you can reclaim your life.

Categories
Marijuana Addiction

Did Cannabis Legalization Worsen Marijuana Addiction In Canada?

Any discussion about the legalization of marijuana is bound to draw a wide variety of opinions. On one end of the spectrum are people who believe that easy availability of cannabis will increase rates of marijuana addiction, and even addiction to other substances. On the other end are those who believe that far from being harmful, cannabis is actually “good” for you.

But what does the data tell us? Since marijuana was legalized in Canada in 2018, have more people become addicted to it? And what does it all mean for the addiction landscape in this country?

Cannabis Use In Canada: A Brief Timeline

Canada’s relationship with cannabis plants has a long and varied history.

A Thriving Hemp Industry

Early in Canada’s history, the growing of cannabis plants was not only allowed, but actively encouraged. Various rulers and administrators used incentive systems to encourage farmers to produce hemp, which was used for fabrics and ropes. By the middle of the 19th century, several hemp mills were running across the country.

From Commerce To Crime

Several short decades later, hemp was edged out by cotton production, and cannabis was used more as a substance to be consumed than as a fabric. In 1922, women’s rights activist Emily Murphy wrote a book called The Black Candle, in which she combined anti-marijuana rhetoric with racism in a bizarre way.

Perhaps fueled in part by this, Canadian lawmakers banned marijuana the following year. The next few decades saw a tumultuous conflict when it came to cannabis, with people protesting the ban being confronted by law enforcement authorities who were determined to disperse them. There were escalations of marijuana-related penalties, and there were calls for decriminalization of marijuana which were largely ignored.

The Best Medicine?

the best medicine

After the start of the 21st century, calls to decriminalize marijuana intensified. Several bills were passed, but they were defeated at various stages in the process, partly because of strong negative reactions from United States officials who were concerned about border enforcement.

Parallel to this, the path was being paved for legalization of marijuana for medical purposes. A man with epilepsy successfully sued the Ontario government for the right to grow and use marijuana to treat his condition. Twelve years later, in 2013, Canadians finally gained the right to get medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription.

No More Limits

In October 2018, Canada became the second country in the world after Uruguay to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Residents of Canada who meet minimum age requirements (which vary by province or territory) can purchase cannabis in various forms from marijuana retailers, without having to provide any documentation other than proof of age. In addition, people who live in Ontario are allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants on their private properties.

Impaired driving laws were updated to include consequences of driving while under the influence of marijuana, and it remains illegal to transport cannabis across the border.

Has Marijuana Use In Canada Changed Since 2018?

There were concerns from some quarters that the legalization of marijuana, and the resulting ease of access, would lead to increased use, which in turn would inevitably lead to increased marijuana addiction.

But did this actually happen?

For the purposes of this article, we distinguish between two kinds of marijuana use:

  • Overall use, which includes regular, occasional and one-time use
  • Regular use, which includes daily or almost daily use

Overall Marijuana Use Increased By A Small Amount

According to Statistics Canada, almost 15% of Canadians aged 15 and over reported using marijuana over a three-month period prior to legalization in 2018. A corresponding study done post-legalization showed that this number increased slightly, to 16.8%.

Cannabis use after legalization was at roughly the same level as it was prior to legalization – around 33%  – among people aged 18-24. Usage increased from 13.1% to 15.5% for those aged 25 and older, but it declined quite sharply in those aged 15.17 (from 19.8% to 10.4%).

No Significant Increase In Regular Use

When we look at the data for Canadians who use cannabis on a regular basis (daily or almost daily), there does not appear to have been a significant change. Both pre and post-legalization, around 6% of Canadians reported using cannabis regularly. This suggests that legalization had the effect of making it easier for people to try marijuana in one form or another, probably out of curiosity, but it did not create new habitual users.

What Does This Mean When It Comes To Marijuana Addiction?

No reliable figures have been released that compare marijuana addiction rates before and after cannabis legalization. However, logic would indicate that since marijuana use did not increase significantly as a result of legalization, addiction probably didn’t either.

Addiction Is Still A Concern

None of this means that Canadian communities should become complacent about addiction to cannabis, especially when it comes to teenagers and young adults.

According to the US National Institute of Health, there is increasing evidence supporting a link between habitual marijuana use starting in the teenage years and psychosis. It should be noted that a causal link between adolescent cannabis use and psychosis has not been established, but the data continues to be collected and analysed.

Is Cannabis A “Gateway Drug”?

There is also a possible link between marijuana use in the teen and early adult years and subsequent use of other substances. In other words, marijuana could well be a “gateway drug”. This could have little to do with cannabis itself, and more to do with the characteristics of the user and their circumstances. Is the individual a risk-seeker by nature? Do they get a thrill out of experimenting with new things? Do they have a history of trauma, abuse, or mental illness?

Is Marijuana Good For You?

is marijuana good for you

The notion that marijuana is “good for you” became popular at around the time it was legalized for medical use. After all, if something can be used as a medicine, it must be good, right?

There are a couple of concerns with this line of thinking. First, there are hundreds of strains of marijuana out there, and each one is unique in the effects it creates. Certain strains of marijuana can help with the management of specific medical conditions. But marijuana in general should not be regarded as an elixir of good health.

Second, just because something is medicine, that doesn’t mean it should be used at will. The current opioid crisis is evidence of that: medications that have legitimate medical use can quickly become abused substances.

A Word About The Data

It has been said many times that “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. Every set of numbers has to be analysed in the context of when and under what circumstances the data was gathered. In this case, what we have to bear in mind is that the data is still very new. Cannabis was only legalized in Canada in October of 2018 – less than three years prior to the writing of this article. As data continues to accumulate over time, a picture very different to the one presented here may emerge.

Statistics relating to addiction are particularly difficult to gather and assess, because there is often a delayed effect. Someone may report using a substance today, but only acknowledge being addicted to that substance a year from now. What this means is that someone could enter a rehab program this year for a marijuana addiction that predates cannabis legalization. By the same token, the addictions that have started since legalization may not be reflected in any numbers for months or years.

Could Stigma Impact The Stats?

There is also a very real possibility that the numbers are being underreported. Significant percentages of people would not tell family members, friends, or coworkers about a mental health or addiction problem, and this does suggest that some people may not answer survey questions about these subjects completely honestly. It is important to continue the work of reducing the stigmas surrounding mental health and addictions, not only for the sake of gathering data, but so the proper help can get to the people who need it.

What Are The Next Steps?

What we need to do is continue collecting data. While it seems a little cold to reduce a human problem to stark numbers, it is important to gather the data so we can understand the extent of any issue.

At the same time, the human beings are more important than the numbers, and we need to ensure that people who need help for marijuana addiction are able to get it. At 1000 Islands Rehab Centre, we create addiction rehab programs that are tailored for each individual, and we encourage anyone who is concerned about themselves or a loved one to contact us.

Categories
Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Abuse And Addiction In Canada

Few substances have cultural, religious, and social significance in the same way alcohol does. Since the beginning of time, alcohol has been a cornerstone of celebrations and ceremonies. It has been regarded as an indicator of wealth in some societies, and one of poverty in others. Some religions ban alcohol consumption; in others, it is an integral part of worship.

Given that alcohol has been an integral part of life for so many generations, it is perhaps not surprising that it is the most commonly abused substance in most parts of the world. According to the World Health Organization, alcohol is responsible for around three million deaths worldwide every year.

Here in Canada, it is estimated that over 20% of people who consume alcohol do so in excess of low-risk drinking guidelines. Substance abuse in Canada costs around $46 billion per year: alcohol and tobacco account for 63% of this amount.

But the true cost of alcohol abuse and addiction goes far beyond a dollar amount. People caught in the grip of an alcohol addiction are at risk of losing their relationships, their health, and even their lives.

What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Abuse And Alcohol Addiction?

Although the terms “alcohol abuse” and “alcohol addiction” are sometimes used interchangeably, they are two distinct conditions.

According to the American Psychological Association, alcohol abuse is a pattern of alcohol consumption that has “significant and recurrent adverse consequences”. These consequences can manifest in many ways: acting violently or dangerously while under the influence; failing to meet work or family obligations; being pulled over for impaired driving.

Alcohol addiction, on the other hand, is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. Some signs that you may have an alcohol addiction include the following:

  • You feel as if you need alcohol in order to function
  • You consume ever-increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects
  • When you do not have access to alcohol, you suffer from intense withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • You consume alcohol at inappropriate times – for example, first thing in the morning, while driving, or while at work
  • You are unable to stop drinking once you start, in spite of wanting to

While many people do suffer from both alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction, this is not always the case. Many people who abuse alcohol are not addicted: they may drink excessively but limit this behaviour to certain days, or specific social gatherings. They do not rely on alcohol to get them through their day. However, if you do abuse alcohol, you are at higher risk of developing an alcohol addiction at some point during your life. An alcohol rehab program can help you, whether you abuse alcohol, are addicted to it, or both.

What Factors Contribute To Alcohol Abuse And Addiction?

It should not come as a surprise that alcohol is the most widely abused substance in the world. Many societies are set up in a way that makes excessive alcohol use not only easy or acceptable, but desirable.

A Friendly Neighbourhood Liquor Outlet For Everyone

In Ontario alone, there are almost 900 LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores and convenience outlets. Additionally, wine and beer can now be purchased at more than 300 grocery stores across the province. While most liquor retailers do their best to follow safe alcohol sale guidelines, such as checking IDs to verify age, and refusing to sell to individuals who appear to be intoxicated, no system is perfect. One method by which people with alcohol use disorders hide their addictions is by purchasing from several liquor retailers in rotation. The sheer availability of retailers makes this very easy.

A Society That Celebrates Drinking

society that celebrates drinking

But while availability of alcohol might make life logistically easier for people with alcohol addictions, societal attitudes are more of a problem. People are often pressured to drink alcohol at social gatherings. If they decline, they are referred to as “party poopers”, or persuaded to have “just one”. Meanwhile, those who drink to excess are seen as “the life of the party”. This perpetuates the notion that one must drink alcohol in order to have a good time, and this could result on people drinking in spite of not really wanting to. After all, no one wants to go to a party and be regarded as “boring”.

An Escape From Stress

For many people, alcohol is an escape. Sometimes people need ways to cope with the stress of major life events, like job loss or spousal separation. Sometimes, alcohol provides a way to avoid the lasting effects of trauma that has been witnessed or experienced. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) estimates that people with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety and PTSD are twice as likely as the general population to develop substance use disorders. With mental health stigmas still alive and well, many people are hesitant to seek the help they need, and they may fall into alcohol consumption as a coping mechanism.

What Are The Effects Of Alcohol Abuse And Addiction?

Like many substance use disorders, alcohol addiction can have far-reaching effects.

Physical And Mental Health

The World Health Organization states that harmful alcohol use – whether as a one-time occurrence or as an alcohol consumption pattern – can cause over 200 physical and mental health conditions. These include various cancers, liver disease, stroke, digestive complaints, depression, anxiety, and psychosis. In addition, people who are alcohol impaired are more likely to engage in behaviours that could result in injury or death, such as impaired driving.

One of the most dangerous elements of alcohol addiction is the effects of withdrawal. For people who have been consuming large amounts of alcohol for an extended period of time, unsupervised withdrawal can lead to high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and seizures. Delirium tremens, often referred to simply as “the DTs” is a serious seizure condition that can be fatal.

Relationships

relationships

Alcohol abuse and addiction can result in the erosion of relationships with family members and close friends. This happens for several reasons, one of them being the fact that alcohol abuse can make a person behave aggressively. Many incidents of domestic violence begin with excessive alcohol consumption, and it doesn’t take long for family members to fear the person who is drinking.

But even in the absence of domestic violence, relationships can suffer. The person with the alcohol addiction may start to withdraw, favouring alcohol use over other activities. Combined with the deception of trying to hide the addiction, this can alienate family members. Many marriages have broken up due to alcohol addiction; many children have been removed from parents for whom alcohol use had taken precedence over family.

Finances

There are two elements to this one. First, alcohol doesn’t come free, and for people with an addiction, it is a necessary expense. Progressively larger amounts of alcohol need to be consumed in order to achieve the same effects, and it can easily get to the point where the addicted person has to choose between buying liquor or putting food on their table.

Secondly, excessive alcohol consumption often goes hand-in-hand with erratic behaviour. The addicted person might start showing up late or not at all. They may drink while at work, and this can affect work performance and interactions with coworkers and customers. Eventually, the individual may lose their job.

How To Get Help

If you feel that you are experiencing an alcohol abuse or addiction problem, or if you are concerned about someone you love, help is available. It is strongly recommended that you enter a medically supervised detox program, since withdrawal from alcohol can be extremely dangerous if attempted alone. At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we will get you through your withdrawal safely, and then we will design a comprehensive alcohol addiction rehab program that is tailored for your needs and circumstances. To get started, call us at 855-929-4045.

Categories
Inhalants Addiction

What Types Of Inhalants Can Be Abused Substances?

Many people think of substance abuse as being an expensive undertaking, accessible only to those who have some way, however unethical, of getting their hands on large amounts of cash. But there is a category of substance abuse that involves ordinary household products that are available for a few dollars at any grocery or hardware store: inhalants.

What makes inhalant so pervasive is that it is accessible to almost everybody. The products can be purchased without restriction by people of all ages. There is no minimum age as there is with alcohol and tobacco. No prescription is needed as is the case with opioids. These factors make inhalants a common substance of abuse among people who don’t have access to money, such as homeless people and children.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), most people in Canada who use inhalants are between 10 and 16 years of age. In 2011, 5.6% of Ontario students in Grades 7-12 reported having used solvents or glue at least once during the previous year.

What Are Inhalants?

Inhalants are volatile substances that are commonly found in common household or DIY products. As the name suggests, they are usually ingested through inhalation. They can produce a psychoactive effect similar to what one experiences through alcohol consumption. Since inhalants include products with a vast array of ingredients, they can affect people in many different ways.

The sheer volume of inhalant products makes it difficult to categorize them. One of the more common methods of classification centres around the form of the product. The four general categories are solvents, gases, aerosols, and nitrites.

Volatile Solvents

Volatile solvents are liquids that vaporize at room temperature. They are found in products like paint, paint thinner, gasoline, glue, and many household cleaning liquids.

Gases

Several household products come in gaseous form that can be abused. These include refrigerants, propane barbecue tanks, butane lighters, and whipped cream dispensers.

Aerosols

aerosols

As the name suggests, aerosol products are those that are typically used by being sprayed from a can. They include hairspray, deodorant, cooking spray and spray paint.

Nitrites

Nitrites are used mostly in the medical and dental fields, but they can still be found in a few household items such as video head cleaner and leather cleaner. Unlike other inhalants that directly affect the central nervous system, nitrites dilate the blood vessels.

How Are Inhalants Ingested?

The method of ingestion depends on the substance. As with many substances that are abused, the danger lies not only in the substance itself, but in how it is taken.

Sniffing

Some products can be ingested with very little effort. The user simply opens the jar or bottle and holds it up to their nose while inhaling deeply. The chemicals can damage the nasal cavities through burning and inflammation.

Sniffing

Bagging

This extremely hazardous practice involves spraying an aerosol substance into a plastic bag, which is then placed over the head. Bagging creates a significant risk of suffocation: as the user starts to experience the effects of the substance, they may suffer a loss of motor skills that renders them incapable of removing the bag.

Huffing

A liquid substance is poured over a cloth or rag, soaking it completely. The cloth is then put into the mouth, putting the user at risk of asphyxiation.

What Are The Dangers Of Inhalants?

The effects of inhalants can be felt within moments of ingestion. Since they are inhaled, they enter the bloodstream through the lungs, and they quickly travel to the brain and other organs. The immediate effects of inhalants that can happen with each use include the following:

  • Poor motor functioning, slowed reflexes, and loss of coordination
  • Mood swings, ranging from irritability to euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Excitability and impulsive behaviour
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, and headaches
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness and loss of consciousness

These effects are short-lived, usually lasting for a few minutes. People who use inhalants will frequently do so several times over the course of a few hours in hopes of prolonging the high. Each successive use of the substance exacerbates the effects, putting the user at increasingly higher risk.

Can The Use Of Inhalants Cause Death?

The dangers of inhalant abuse are sometimes overlooked, possibly because many people don’t automatically associate household products with substance abuse. Most instances of accidental ingestion are dealt with swiftly, and they involve relatively small amounts of the product.

However, even a single case of intentional inhalant use can lead to death in any one of the following ways:

  • Sudden sniffing death. The chemicals in the products can lead to a rapid and/or irregular heartbeat, which in turn can result in cardiac arrest.
  • Choking. One of the common effects of inhalant use is nausea and vomiting, paired with a loss of consciousness. This can result in the user choking to death as a result of not being able to move to a safer position.
  • Asphyxiation. Putting solvent-soaked rags into the mouth can result in asphyxiation. In addition, high concentrations of inhaled fumes displace oxygen in the lungs, resulting in asphyxiation, regardless of the method of ingestion.
  • Suffocation. When fumes are inhaled from a plastic bag placed over the head, the user can suffocate. A loss of motor skills and coordination can prevent the user from being able to remove the plastic bag in time.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning. Some solvents are converted to carbon monoxide, which is toxic to humans.
  • Accidental injury. Because inhalant use can lead to dizziness, impaired coordination, and slowed reflexes, the user is more prone to accidental death from motor vehicle accidents and other incidents.

Long-Term Effects Of Inhalants

Prolonged frequent use of inhalants can lead to significant long-term consequences, including the following:

  • Some volatile solvents can damage the myelin sheath – the protective coating surrounding nerve fibres. This can lead to nervous system damage that looks clinically similar to that seen in conditions like multiple sclerosis.
  • The user may experience cognitive decline ranging from mild impairment to severe dementia.
  • Due to the efficient means of ingestion, prolonged use of inhalants can have long-term effects on the organs, including the heart, lungs and liver.
  • Bone marrow can become damaged, and this can interfere with the body’s ability to produce red blood cells, putting the user at higher risk of developing conditions like anemia and leukemia.

Use Of Inhalants During Pregnancy

Although the use of inhalants during pregnancy has not been sufficiently studied in humans, animal studies suggest that some inhalant substances can result in low birth weight and delayed neurological development in babies.

How Can I Stop Using Inhalants?

Many people become psychologically dependent on inhalants, meaning they experience strong cravings after a period of abstinence. However, the physical dependence is low, which means withdrawal symptoms, while uncomfortable, are not life-threatening.

The symptoms of inhalant withdrawal include anxiety, headaches, nausea and vomiting, insomnia, hand tremors, and mood swings.

Although these symptoms may be mild, quitting inhalant use can still be a challenge. If you are caught in a cycle of inhalant abuse, it is important that you seek help. Most addictions have their roots in other causes, and by joining an intensive rehab program, those underlying issues can be explored and understood. At 1000 Islands Rehab Centre, we will create an addiction rehab program that is tailored to your specific needs and circumstances. Contact us today to start your journey to a better life.

Categories
Opioid Addiction

The Tragedy Of Opioid Addiction In Canada

Opioid addiction in Canada has many faces. It is Benjamin, who was prescribed opioids for dental pain and then discovered that they helped him cope with the memories of childhood trauma. It is Greg, who woke up one morning and found his wife dead from an accidental fentanyl overdose. It is Sean, who turned to alcohol and opiates when he lost his pregnant girlfriend in a drowning accident.

The tragedy of opioid addiction is woven through the stories of those who are addicted, the loved ones who are supporting them, and the doctors and social workers who are trying to help them. Some of these stories – including those mentioned above – have been compiled in The Opioid Chapters, a project that attempts to shed light on the humanity of a crisis that is often reduced to statistics.

A Double-Edged Crisis

Addiction to prescription opioids is not as simple to analyze as addictions to other substances. It is easy for us to say that street drugs like heroin and cocaine destroy lives. And this is true: there is no circumstance in which using these drugs contributes to a person’s overall state of health and wellness.

The same cannot be said of prescription opioids, because when used in accordance with medical guidelines, these can provide significant quality of life to people who would otherwise have none. What this means is that society has to strike a balance between solving the opioid addiction crisis and ensuring that the people who need to use the drug for legitimate medical purposes have access to it.

When Does Medicine Become A Drug?

The term “opioids” is generally used to refer to prescription medication that is used to block pain signals between the brain and the body. Opioids that are commonly prescribed include oxycodone, morphine and fentanyl. They are typically used for short term management of chronic pain, pain relief following surgery, and management of pain resulting from cancer.

The risk of addiction arises from the fact that as the medication blocks pain signals, it boosts feelings of pleasure. In an individual who is struggling with trauma memories or stress, this can be dangerous: what starts off as a pain relief medication becomes a substance that is used to help the person function mentally or emotionally.

As the individual uses the opioid medication for a longer time, they may start to increase the dosage to achieve the same effects. And as the doses and frequency of use increase, so does the risk  of decreased heart rate and breathing. This can lead to death. Add other substances like alcohol into the mix, and the danger increases exponentially.

The True Cost Of Opioid Addiction

the true cost of opioid addiction

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use & Addiction (CCSA), there were over 15,000 opioid-related deaths in Canada in the years 2016-2019. Over the last five years, emergency room admissions resulting from opioid harm have increased by 27%. It is estimated that in Ontario, the number of opioid-dependent people who gave birth to babies was 16 times higher in 2014 than in 2002. Many of these babies had to be treated for neonatal withdrawal.

The human cost of opioid addiction is undeniable. In addition to the lives lost, there are the lives permanently altered by disability or illness, loss of a loved one, and the breakdown of relationships.

The Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) estimates that mental illness and addiction costs the Canadian economy more than $50 billion per year. This includes lost productivity and the costs of healthcare and social services. With an annual amount of $3.5 billion, opioids contribute to the third biggest substance-related cost in Canada, behind alcohol and tobacco.

First, Do No Harm

The obvious answer to this crisis would seem to be, “Let’s get people the help they need.” While society should always have a goal of helping people who are vulnerable, this is not quite as simple as it sounds.

One of the problems is stigma. Although we have come a long way in terms of societal attitudes to addiction, we have not quite managed to let go of the idea that equates addiction with irresponsibility. We routinely see people with addictions being referred to as “junkies” or “deadbeats”, instead of being treated as human beings worthy of being helped.

The tragic reality is that many people who want to seek treatment for addictions hesitate for fear of being ridiculed or rejected. In a lot of cases, trauma has brought them to the point of addiction: having been hurt by some element of humanity, they do not have faith that humanity will treat them with empathy.

Another problem is access to services. Not everyone has the financial means to go to rehab. Not everyone has the option of stepping out of their lives to go into a treatment centre, and when they do, they may find that treatment centres are full.

Therefore, while it is important to ensure that as much help as possible is available for people with opioid addictions, this does not go far enough. We also need to use harm reduction strategies to protect people who use opioids from serious harm or death. Some of these strategies can also serve as a first step in a drug rehab process.

Naloxone

Freely available in most parts of Canada, naloxone is a short-acting opioid antagonist that binds to the opioid receptors, thereby preventing other opioids from binding. This can rapidly reverse the potentially fatal effects of opioid overdose, such as depressed breathing and heart rate. When given soon after possible overdose events, naloxone can save lives. It should be noted that even when naloxone is administered, the individual should receive emergency care as soon as possible, since the effects of naloxone are not long-lasting.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Unsupervised opioid withdrawal can be dangerous and uncomfortable. Individuals who want to break the hold of opioids on their lives may benefit from medication-assisted treatment, in which they are given longer-acting opioids that have less intense euphoric effects. This allows the person to start rebuilding their life while avoiding the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.

medication-assisted treatment

Public Education

One of the most powerful harm reduction strategies for any addiction is educating members of the community about the signs and symptoms of overdose, what to do in the event of such an emergency, and what sequence of events is set in motion when someone calls for help. A lot of people are hesitant to help those who are experiencing overdoses because they fear arrest by the police or stigmatization from family members. Humans have demonstrated over and over again that we fear what we do not understand: public education can reduce the anxiety about assisting people who need it.

Approaching Opioid Addiction Rehab With Empathy

The key to helping people with opioid addictions is empathy. Whether the situation calls for immediate harm reduction or longer term rehab, it is important for the individual to feel that they are in a safe place that is free from judgment, where they will receive the treatment they need.

If you decide that inpatient addiction rehab is the right choice for yourself or a loved one, 1000 Islands Rehab Centre will provide a healing environment, compassionate addiction treatment professionals, and a rehab program that is tailored to your unique needs and circumstances.

It is never too soon or too late to get help. Reach out to us today to begin your journey to recovery.

Related article: What is Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction? | 1000 Islands Addiction Rehab Centre (addictions.ca)

Categories
Amphetamine Addiction

How to Know if a Loved One is Addicted to Amphetamine?

It’s not easy to know if your loved one is addicted to Amphetamine. There are several factors responsible for this. The first is you have a blind spot for your loved one. Most times, you end up believing what you want about them. This is especially true when you can’t put a finger on any drastic changes.

Another factor to consider is they know you very well. Hence, it’ll be easier for them to keep their Amphetamine use hidden from you. However, one thing common to drug usage is that the user can’t hide it forever. Even if they hide the substance from you, there are symptoms of Amphetamine abuse and dependence that can paint a credible picture.

Beyond this, Amphetamine is dangerous to the health. If your loved one does not stop the abuse, it can lead to death. Hence, it should be a real concern for you if your loved one is dealing with Amphetamine abuse.

Not to worry, we’ll highlight all the indicators you need to know if a loved one is addicted to Amphetamine. This way, you can help them get the help they need.

But first, let’s take a closer look at the disease that is Amphetamine addiction.

What is Amphetamine and its Addiction?

Amphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant. The drug is known to alter the mood of the user, and in the long run, is highly addictive. However, unlike most other substances, amphetamine is synthetic.

Amphetamine abuse has become a major challenge in Canada. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be able to tell if your loved one is addicted to amphetamine.

After taking amphetamine, the user experiences an increase in brain activity. They may also feel an incredible surge in energy. Other symptoms that follow immediately after each amphetamine use are; focus, euphoria, and confidence. These are all common symptoms and reasons users continue to indulge in Amphetamine abuse. It is this continuous use that opens your loved one to the risk of addiction.

Amphetamine was first created in Germany during the late 1800s. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that its characteristics as a stimulant came to fore. This discovery came after scientists started prescribing it for nasal congestion.

Soon, the usage of amphetamine spun to other things. Among others, it was useful in dealing with weight loss, hangovers from alcohol and depression symptoms.

Types of Amphetamine

Amphetamine, as a drug component, is a stimulant. It is made available in combination with different other substances. This accounts for the different types of amphetamines available in Toronto. The shortlist includes Adderall, Dexedrine, Vyvanse, and generic ADHD medications.

Another type of amphetamine is methamphetamine. This is similar in structure to basic amphetamine but has a stronger effect on the body. Due to its strong effects on the user, this substance is declared illicit. Some of its effects include intense euphoria — a highly addictive state that can be very dangerous.

There is another type of amphetamine drug referred to as ecstasy. It is a drug that can alter the mind of the user. If any medical situation will warrant its use, it has to be under the strict supervision of a doctor.

Amphetamine abuse requires vigilance

If you suspect amphetamine abuse in your loved one, you should act swiftly. Amphetamine addiction comes with a host of negative effects that can drastically change a life. And as customary of most addicts, admission of substance dependence is almost impossible.

Most addicts always tell themselves — and others — they are not addicted. They’ll swear to you they can get off the substance whenever they want. This is not true. While amphetamines are mostly administered to treat ADHD, you can get dependent on these small, dark tablets almost subconsciously. Amphetamines are amongst the most addictive substances in the world.

It’s for this reason you can’t get a refill of the substance over the counter. You’ll need to get a new prescription from your doctor. The need for control with this substance is vital. Continuous use can warp the brain, resulting in lasting effects.

Common Amphetamine abuse scenarios

A common amphetamine abuse scenario is mixing it with other substances. This can be dangerous, especially if your loved one is already addicted. For the average person, it’s hard to tell which drug will react badly with amphetamine. A wrong combination can open up your loved one to the risk of nerve-damaging toxins.

The same sentiment goes for mixing amphetamines and alcohol. This also applies to using Xanax and Adderall. These substances are both depressants. Hence, they normally result, individually, in a slowdown of the central nervous system. If your loved one mixes them, it can result in an overdose.

Now, are we saying amphetamine isn’t any good for your loved one? No. However, if you know your loved one has a medical condition that warrants them to use Amphetamines, you need to be vigilant.

There is a very thin line between sticking to the recommended prescription/usage of this substance and addiction. Amphetamine is crucial to treating medical issues like ADHD. But don’t just leave your loved ones to themselves. If it gets too late before you notice the indicators of amphetamine abuse, things can get pretty bad.

Related Article: Amphetamine Addiction: What Are The Causes?

The Negative Impacts of Amphetamine Addiction

The ease with which users can pop Amphetamines into their mouth should leave you worried about your loved one. The side effects and health complications resulting from amphetamine abuse and addiction are extensive.

In this section, we’ll explore all of them. Ample knowledge of them will motivate you to pay attention to whether your loved one is addicted to Amphetamines.

Risk of heart problems or death

risk of heart problems

If you take Amphetamines incorrectly, you may be exposing yourself to a heart attack. Worst case scenario, this can lead to death. Wrong use can cause blood pressure to increase. This can be followed by an increase in heart rate, then stroke, and a heart attack.

Slowed growth in children

Amphetamine is a depressant. The presence of it in the body of a child can lead to a reduction in growth rate. In the case your loved one, a child, has to use the drug, make sure the doctor duly measures their height and weight. If during the treatment, there is a drop in these variables, there may be a need to stop Amphetamine treatments.

However, it goes without telling that once the child has developed dependence, stopping will be very difficult. A stoppage can see the child suffer painful withdrawal symptoms.

Judgment impediment

Addiction to amphetamine ends up clouding the judgment of your loved one. They may make terrible mistakes they wouldn’t make normally. Hence, during the period of amphetamine addiction and treatment for your loved one, limit the precision-demanding activities they engage in. They shouldn’t drive or use heavy machinery.

Insomnia

This is a common effect of addiction to amphetamines and their related substances. It becomes very difficult to sleep, and if this continues for a long time, it can lead to a breakdown. Before breaking down, you may start to function below optimum efficiency

Loss of Muscle control

Amphetamine addiction can result in you losing the functioning and control of your muscles. You may also experience muscle spasms.

Muscle spasms are a scenario where your muscles contract without your control. They are quick, sudden, and most often very painful. This sudden surge of pain can put the user at risk of injury.

Mental Health Problems

Addiction to any substance can make you a shadow of yourself. You’ll most likely lose your mental wellness as well as your normal thought process. With Amphetamine abuse, there’s also the possibility of bipolar illnesses.

A regular Amphetamine user will start to get aggressive for no reason and act hostile on flimsy grounds. This is one of the tells to know if your loved one is addicted to amphetamine.

What causes Amphetamine Addiction?

The factors resulting in amphetamine abuse differ from person to person. For some, it is ADHD, for others it is anxiety. The primary cause of amphetamine addiction is when you use it, uncontrolled, repeatedly. Your body begins to build a tolerance to it as you depend on it. This causes you to abuse it more.

More often than not, amphetamine dependence only develops when you use it outside of the normal prescription. When you use more than prescribed, addiction can. The same happens when you use it without a prescription.

On rare occasions, even when you adhere to prescriptions, you can still end up with a use disorder. Amphetamines have powerful addictive effects. Therefore, you and your loved ones need to exercise extreme care with its usage.

The people most susceptible to falling victim to amphetamine are:

  • Those with easy access to the substance
  • Those with depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia
  • Those with stressful lifestyles can also fall victim.

Watching out for the signs that a loved one is addicted to amphetamine becomes even more important if any of these is the case.

How to Know if a Loved One is Addicted to Amphetamine

With deliberate observation, you can tell when your loved one is addicted to amphetamine. The symptoms are easily noticeable, even to outsiders.

Most times, the consumption of amphetamine is oral. It is mainly in tablet form. However, to achieve a faster and higher level, many users snort or inject the substance. As a result of these different usage methods, several behaviours and cues serve as warning signs of amphetamine abuse. Some of these are:

  • Snorting signs: If your loved one snorts amphetamine, then you can look out for some common tools. Some of them are straws, mirrors, and tightly-rolled cash bills. Some other times, users may get a bloody nose. Hence, if you’ve ever had suspicions about your loved one abusing Amphetamines, a bloody nose makes it more possible.
  • Signs of injection: Most addicts hide the injection signs in their long-sleeved clothes. Hence, it may not be easy to detect. If you can get a good view of the inside of their elbows, injection sites are an indication your loved one may be abusing amphetamines.
  • Signs of smokers: Those who smoke amphetamines mainly use a glass pipe. There are other cases when the user works with a metal spoon. For such a spoon, you’ll probably find burn marks on it. This is another indicator your loved one may be indulging in Amphetamine abuse.

Physical Signs of Amphetamine abuse to look out for

Amphetamine is so powerful to the extent that it can drastically influence the user’s body and mind. Some of the visible signs you’ll notice include:

Changes in energy level

There is always a burst of energy in the moments immediately after using amphetamine. Though the different modes of usage afford varying times for the effects to kick in. The important part is that once the effect wears off, your loved one will seem highly fatigued and lethargic.

Increase in the heart rate of the user

Many of the processes controlled by the nervous system speed up with the introduction of amphetamine to the body. Mostly, you’ll see the effects in the breathing and heart rate of the user.

Insomnia

insomnia

Thanks to the heightened brain activity, it becomes nearly impossible for the body and mind to be at peace. Hence, insomnia crawls in.

Withdrawal symptoms of Amphetamine

Withdrawal symptoms are another way to tell if a loved one is addicted to Amphetamine. When a loved one is addicted to amphetamine, it can be hard to stop. Mostly, this isn’t due to the absence of a willingness to stop.

It’s due to painful withdrawal symptoms they have when they aren’t using the substance. The common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue and heavy sleep
  • A voraciously increased appetite
  • Sudden twitches, jerks, and uncontrolled movements of the body
  • Reaction rate slows down
  • Severe aches and body pains
  • Irritation
  • Depression
  • Agitation

All these may not happen to your loved ones at once, upon withdrawal. However, when any of them happen, the only cure they can immediately think of is to go back to the substance.

This is why the best place to begin withdrawal – and recovery treatment – is with a trained specialist. Seeking professional help is the first step towards recovery.

The Long-term effects of Amphetamine addiction

One of the most difficult things with amphetamine is to stop after first use. It is highly addictive and can lead to several chronic diseases.

Physical long-term effects of using amphetamine include the following;

  • Tooth decay and loss
  • Several diseases attack the immune system
  • Numerous kidney complications
  • Lung damages
  • Suffering cardiac issues like stroke and heart attack
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsion, extreme shakiness, and tremors.
  • There is an increased risk of contracting diseases via needles
  • Vertigo
  • Ulcer development
  • Chronic vitamin deficiency
  • User experiences very high temperatures
  • Inability to enjoy other activities

The psychology aspects of the problem include;

  • A loss of cognitive functions and abilities
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Depressive disorder is also a common scenario
  • Psychosis
  • Behavioural disorders.

As regards amphetamine addiction, you don’t have to witness all these to be convinced that your loved one is suffering from amphetamine addiction.  A few of these should put you on notice.

However, you need the expertise to approach a loved one to discuss amphetamine abuse. As said earlier in this guide, addicts exhibit denial of their situation. Hence, it may be difficult to talk about getting help, the same way it will be difficult to stop.

How to Help A Loved One with Amphetamine Addiction?

There is one thing to do when you notice that your loved one suffers from amphetamine addiction. They need to get professional help. You can’t help them by keeping quiet. Neither can you help them by agreeing they aren’t addicted.

There is so much that will be required of you if your loved one is to get back to normalcy. The very first of these is to talk. How you approach a loved one to discuss amphetamine abuse is critical.

Talking: How to talk to an amphetamine addict

Insecurity and shame are the two major reasons why every addict exhibits the denial that comes when they are confronted with statements regarding their addictions.

They all claim they aren’t addicts, which will be a good thing to believe. Even when they say that they can stop the substance whenever they feel like it, you should help them understand they can’t.

When addicts try to withdraw from amphetamine, they experience the symptoms above. The presence of withdrawal symptoms is further confirmation your loved one is addicted to amphetamine. When you want to talk to them about it, here is how you should go about it.

Don’t judge

This is a fundamental fact you need to understand. You are not engaging them in a conversation to judge them. If you do this, that’s the end. They’ll recoil and do their best to avoid you. You need to let them know you understand why they are in that situation in the first place. Be as calm as you can.

Help them understand the problem

In the most subtle of ways, you need to help them see what they are doing wrong and how it’s affecting them. It’s when you can convince them about the problem and its effects that they will be motivated to seek help.

Make sure to have a solution already

One major reason why many addicts don’t seek help is because of the drastic transition it brings to their lives. For chronic addicts, in-house treatments that leverage therapy and medications are the way to go. However, this will require that they move out of their primary environment. This can be scary. Hence, you must have come up with a plan of how you can help them navigate and mitigate the effects of addiction recovery.

Letting them know you are ready to support them in whatever way required is a big boost. This will go a long way in helping them survive the arduous journey to recovery that lies ahead.

Get them to a specialist

Specialists come at varying prices, but they all have one goal, helping your loved one recover. You should ensure you do everything possible to get them to consult with a specialist. When treatment finally starts, you should make sure they attend their sessions (if they signed up for outpatient treatment).

Support

support

Support is incredibly valuable. Either they are your friends or your family member, being there for them in times like this can change the trajectory of their addiction recovery process.

Gather positive friends, make their environment better by removing triggers, and make sure they don’t have to worry about money during recovery. As much as you can, reduce their stressors so they can focus on amphetamine addiction treatment.

Related Article: Signs Of Amphetamine Addiction

Final Take

If your loved one is addicted to amphetamine, you have a lot of work to do. From talking to them to making sure they see a specialist and focus on their addiction recovery programs.

There will be a need to buy medications, amongst other bills. Beyond financial support, moral support is also critical.

All of this can be too much for one person to bear. Thankfully, 1000 Islands Rehab Centre is here to help. Whether you need help talking to your loved one or deciding on a treatment plan, we’re your reliable partner. Contact us today to discuss an amphetamine rehab plan for your loved one!