Alcohol Addiction

The Stages Of Alcohol Withdrawal And Their Symptoms

Alcohol is one of the most difficult substances to give up. This is partly because alcohol use is so socially acceptable – even expected in some cases – and partly because of the nature of withdrawal. Quitting any substance can be an unpleasant experience. In the case of alcohol, it can actually be dangerous if the right supports are not in place.

In this article, we will talk about the stages of alcohol withdrawal, what symptoms you may experience, and crucially, how you or a support person can tell when it’s time to call for medical help.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

If you have been drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, you will have become used to it. You may still feel the effects of intoxication, but your body and mind will have reached the point of needing that alcohol in order to function. You may feel anxious or unable to concentrate without a drink, the smallest amount of stress can result in cravings, your hands may tremble until you’ve satisfied that thirst.

Why Does Alcohol Withdrawal Happen?

Most Canadians who drink do so in mild or moderate amounts – they do not experience withdrawal simply because they do not drink enough for their bodies to start relying on alcohol. The problem of withdrawal arises when you consume significant amounts of alcohol on a regular basis over a sustained period of time.

The more you drink, the more you need to drink: you may find yourself consuming larger amounts to achieve the same effects. Since alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, your brain starts to compensate by producing what for most people would be an overabundance of natural stimulants, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

If you abruptly reduce or eliminate your intake of alcohol, your body ends up with a massive surge of stimulants that have no place to go. This creates a potentially dangerous imbalance in your physiological functions, such as breathing and cardiac functioning.

The Stages Of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal should be seen as a process that happens over a period of time rather than an event that is over and done with quickly. Many people believe that withdrawal is the process of the alcohol working its way out of your system, but it is more complex than that. Because of the physiological and neurological changes that happen, alcohol withdrawal includes a period of the brain chemistry trying to get itself back to the way it was prior to the period of alcohol abuse.

Stage 1: Tremors


5-10 hours after your last drink, you will start to experience the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal, which include:

  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A raised pulse and/or elevated blood pressure
  • Insomnia, nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety and/or irritability

These symptoms typically peak after about 24 hours before starting to ease off on the second or third day. Some symptoms, such as insomnia and mood disturbances, can persist for several weeks or months.

Stage 2: Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

Seizures can start between 6 and 48 hours after the last drink, although the risk is at its highest after around 24 hours. The frequency, duration, and severity of seizures depends on how heavily and frequently you used alcohol.

Stage 3: Alcohol Hallucinosis

12-24 hours after your last drink, you may see the onset of visual or tactile hallucinations. In other words, you see or feel things that are not there. Common hallucinations include the illusion of small moving objects and the sensation of crawling insects under the skin. These symptoms can last for up to two days.

The Dangers Of Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. People at highest risk are those who have used alcohol extremely heavily over a long period of time, and people with a prior history of substance abuse. Delirium tremens causes dangerous changes in key physiological functions, like breathing, circulation, and temperature regulation. It can also temporarily reduce blood flow to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive difficulties. If left untreated, it can lead to catastrophic health effects and death.

The symptoms of delirium tremens include the following:

  • Dehydration: for a quick test, press down on a fingernail until it blanches. If it does not return to its normal colour immediately after being released, the individual is probably experiencing dehydration.
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Stupor, extreme drowsiness or loss of consciousness
  • Nervous or angry behaviour
  • A racing pulse and short, rapid breaths
  • Sweating to the point of soaking
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If you are with someone who is experiencing these symptoms, it is critical that you get medical care for them as quickly as possible.

dangers of delirium tremens

Planning For Safe Alcohol Withdrawal

While it may seem that people with alcohol addictions are caught between two bad options – to quit or not to quit – there are things you can do to ensure your safety during the withdrawal process. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Book yourself into a detox facility. This way, you will have doctors and nurses taking care of you throughout your withdrawal, and treating withdrawal symptoms as they arise.
  • If you are unwilling or unable to go to detox, at least make sure you’re not alone. Go to a friend or family member’s house, or have someone stay with you. It is important to ensure that there is someone with you who can call for medical help should the need arise.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers with you. This could include your local hospital, your doctor, and some emergency contacts.
  • Make sure there is an easy way to get to the hospital. Whoever is with you should know the route, and the car should have gas in it.
  • If you’re taking prescription medications, write down the names and dosages so that medical professionals can give you appropriate care.

Getting Help For Alcohol Use Disorders

Withdrawal is just the first step in your recovery from an alcohol addiction. At 1000 Islands Rehab Centre, we will get you through your detox safely, and then we will put together a customized addiction treatment program that will get you on the path to recovery. Call us today for more information, or to book your spot.

Alcohol Addiction

How Quickly Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol addiction is a tragic condition that affects around 4% of the Canadian population. In 2016, almost 7,000 Canadians died as a result of liver disease, cancer, and traffic accidents attributable to alcohol. In addition to the health effects and loss of life, alcohol use disorders can have a significant economic and social cost, resulting in job loss , food insecurity, spousal separation, and the removal of custodial children.

One of the tragedies of alcohol addiction is that it is so difficult to overcome. Many people make unsuccessful attempts to quit drinking before they are finally able to enter into long-term recovery. This is because it does not take long for early withdrawal symptoms to appear. These symptoms are so uncomfortable – and sometimes dangerous – that the individual resorts to having a drink just to make them go away.

As difficult as it may seem when you are in the thick of it, you can quit drinking. The initial challenge is knowing how to get through withdrawal. In this article, we will talk about why withdrawal happens and how soon you can expect to start experiencing symptoms.

Why Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Happen?

If you regularly overuse alcohol over a sustained period of time, your brain is constantly exposed to its depressant effects. To compensate, it increases production of natural stimulants, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. If you suddenly deprive your brain of alcohol, it becomes flooded with stimulants. The excess results in mental confusion and erratic changes in the way your breathing and circulation are controlled. Harvard Health Publishing likens this to a speeding vehicle abruptly losing its brakes.

What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, or AWS, is a condition affecting people who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol, and then abruptly reduced their alcohol consumption.

What Is Alcohol Dependence?

alcohol dependence

While most people who consume alcohol are casual recreational drinkers – in other words, they drink moderate amounts of alcohol simply because they enjoy it – there are some who drink in order to achieve the effects that alcohol produces. For example, you might drink because it generates a feeling of confidence, or because it reduces social anxiety.

The problem is that over time, it takes progressively larger amounts of alcohol to achieve these effects, and the more you drink, the more stimulants your brain produces to compensate. This results in a situation where your body needs alcohol in order to function.

A Sudden Reduction In Drinking

The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition 5 (DSM-V) stipulates that a condition for diagnosis of AWS is a sudden reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption after having been a heavy drinker for a sustained period of time. This is a fairly subjective criterion: DSM-V does not quantify either the amounts of alcohol consumed or the duration of the heavy drinking.

Additional Diagnostic Criteria

DSM-V lists eight primary alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with AWS, you need to be displaying at least two of these in the absence of other medical causes.

  • Anxiety: new onset of anxiety symptoms, or exacerbation of symptoms in people with pre-existing anxiety diagnoses
  • Psychomotor agitation: restlessness, inability to sit still, self-stimulating activities like nail-biting and pacing, tapping the hands or feet, irritability or anger, bouts of tearfulness
  • Autonomic hyperactivity: arousal of the autonomic nervous system resulting in sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and stomach cramps
  • Hand tremors
  • Insomnia: difficulty falling or staying asleep, or difficulty going back to sleep after waking up
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations: may be visual, auditory or tactile
  • Tonic-clonic seizures: also known as a grand mal seizure, this results in severe muscle contractions and loss of consciousness

How Soon Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol withdrawal is a process rather than an event. There is a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms, and they appear, peak, and wane at different points of the process.

Initial Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been drinking significant amounts of alcohol on a regular basis over a period of time, you can typically expect your first withdrawal symptoms to start about eight hours after your last drink. These symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nausea and stomach cramps.

The initial withdrawal symptoms start as mild discomfort and get progressively more uncomfortable, peaking after around 24 hours. It is during this time that a lot of people with alcohol addictions relapse, preferring alcohol over the withdrawal symptoms.

Stage Two Withdrawal

At around the time your initial withdrawal symptoms are peaking, you may start to experience the next phase of symptoms. These include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, elevated body temperature, and confusion.

Stage Three – The Danger Zone

2-4 days after your last drink, you may start to experience seizures, hallucinations, fever and agitation. In severe cases, you may experience delirium tremens, a severe withdrawal complication that can be fatal. Symptoms include seizures, disorientation, delirium, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme shakiness, and loss of consciousness.

danger zone

Getting Through Alcohol Withdrawal Safely

The withdrawal process generally lasts for 5-7 days, although some of the psychological symptoms may endure beyond that.

Many people feel that they can break their dependence on alcohol simply by quitting drinking. It is not impossible: a lot of people have begun their long-term recovery in this way. It can be dangerous, though, especially if you have been a heavy drinker for a long time.

If you want to quit drinking, follow these tips to ensure your safety and reduce your risk of relapse:

  • Book yourself into a detox centre. This will ensure that you have medical attention throughout the most dangerous parts of withdrawal.
  • If you are unwilling or unable to go through medical detox, ensure that you are not alone. Get a friend or family member to stay with you.
  • Keep your phone charged in case you have to call for medical help, and ensure that emergency services have a way of getting to you.
  • If you are using any prescribed medications, write them down along with the dosages. Keep this list nearby or on your person so medical professionals can find it.
  • Make a plan for what happens after detox. Your chances of maintaining sobriety are vastly improved if you enter an addiction treatment program.

Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we offer customized addiction treatment programs for people who want a life without alcohol dependence. We recognize and value the uniqueness of all people. No two addiction journeys look the same, so it makes sense that everyone’s recovery will look different. Call us today to learn about our alcohol addiction treatment programs. We will take care of you through detox and rehab, and our aftercare program will ease your transition back into the real world.


Symptoms Of Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol is like many things in life: in moderation it can be good, but overconsumption can lead to disaster. And like many things in life, it can be difficult to draw the line between what is reasonable and what is too much. The line is in a different place not only from one person to the next, but from one occasion to the next for the same person.

In other words, you might have a different level of tolerance to the person standing next to you. And what you consume today with no ill effects could give you a splitting headache next week.

This line is further blurred by the fact that alcohol inebriation is not merely accepted, in some instances it is celebrated and sought after. How many times have you heard someone state their intention of getting drunk at an upcoming party? Or brag about how many drinks they had last weekend? How often have you seen the most impaired person at a gathering being lauded as “the life of the party”?

In this article, we will look at some signs that it may be time for you to switch to water, and we will look at the troubling and sometimes tragic phenomenon of alcohol overdose.

How Much Is Too Much?

According to Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, people assigned male at birth (AMAB) should limit consumption to 15 drinks a week and no more than three drinks at a time, while those assigned female at birth (AFAB) should not exceed 10 drinks a week and two drinks at a time.

It is important to understand that these guidelines are based on generalizations about how AFAB and AMAB bodies work. People who are AFAB have lower body weight and blood volume, but their body fat percentage is higher, which puts them at higher risk of long-term health effects from overconsumption of alcohol. In addition, they produce less alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, meaning their bodies do not break down alcohol as efficiently as the bodies of AMAB people.

Safety Limits Vary From Person To Person

The guidelines are just guidelines. Actual safe alcohol consumption limits vary widely from one person to the next based on several factors, including the following:

  • Age, weight and state of health
  • Whether you are taking any medications and if so, what those medications are
  • Whether you are pregnant or breast/chest-feeding
  • Whether you have a prior history of substance abuse

If you are in any doubt about if or how much alcohol you can consume, it is important that you seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. What is safe for your neighbour or relative may not be safe for you.

How Do I Know I’ve Been Drinking Too Much Alcohol?

In general, the human body is capable of metabolizing one standard unit of alcohol per hour. If you consume more than that, you will start to feel the effects of mild alcohol intoxication. These include the following:

  • Overinflated sense of confidence
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Talkativeness
  • A sense of relaxation or tranquility
  • Mildly impaired motor skills, such as unsteadiness on the feet
  • Reddening or flushing of the skin

If you continue to drink in spite of these symptoms, you may experience moderate intoxication, which has the following signs:

  • Mood swings
  • Inhibitions that are lowered to the extent that you engage in potentially high-risk behaviour, such as driving impaired
  • Increased motor skill deficits, slurred speech, and blurred vision
  • Confusion, impaired attention, and poor judgment
  • Reduced reflexes and reaction time
  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Legal Driving Limits Do Not Mean Safe Driving Limits

Few people would argue that driving while impaired is extremely dangerous, not only for the person driving, but for any passengers as well as other users of the road. In Ontario, the maximum legal blood alcohol content (BAC) while driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood, which translates to BAC of 0.08.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with BAC over this level, and many people use this figure to determine how many drinks they can have in order to legally drive. But the question should not only be about legality, it should also be whether it is safe to drive. People have different levels of tolerance. One person can be over the legal BAC without showing any signs of impairment, while someone else could have a fraction of the legal BAC and be obviously intoxicated.

The best course of action is to avoid any drinking and driving. Arrange for alternative transportation prior to the party, or leave your car at the venue, get an Uber or a cab home, and retrieve your car the following day.

driving limits

The Dangers Of Alcohol Poisoning

When you consume alcohol, it gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream through the stomach wall, and it immediately starts to circulate through your body. A single glass of wine or a beer are not likely to produce effects: your blood will pass through your liver, which will break down the alcohol so the body can get rid of it.

But the liver can only do so much. The more you drink, the more alcohol you will have circulating in your body while the liver is working overtime trying to deal with it all. As the alcohol is being transported to various parts of your body, you start to feel the effects of intoxication.

If you continue to drink, you can eventually get to the point where the parts of your brain that are responsible for supporting life start to shut down – examples include breathing, heart function, and temperature control.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning?

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Difficulty maintaining or regaining consciousness
  • Slow or irregular breathing: fewer than eight breaths a minute, or gaps of at least 10 seconds between breaths
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme mental confusion
  • Slow or irregular heart rate
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Skin that is cold or clammy to the touch, or skin that is pale or blue-tinged
  • Seizures

How To Help Someone Who Is Experiencing Alcohol Overdose

If you are with someone who is showing signs of alcohol overdose, it is imperative that you do not leave them unattended. They could be at risk of falling or choking. Immediately call for medical help, and stay with the person until help arrives.

If you can, get the person onto the ground in a sitting or semi-reclined position. If they are lying down, roll them onto their side.

When paramedics arrive, be prepared to tell them everything you know about what and how much the person drank, and whether they used any other substances or medications.

Getting Help For Problem Drinking

Located in a beautiful setting, Thousand Islands Rehab Centre provides customized alcohol addiction treatment programs that respect and value the uniqueness of all people. We provide an environment conducive to healing, and you will be guided by staff who are compassionate and non-judgmental. Call us today to learn more, or to get started on your healing journey.

Alcohol Addiction

20 Warning Signs Of An Alcohol Drinking Problem

Around 80% of Canadians who are of legal drinking age consume alcohol. This number may seem high, but the majority of this alcohol consumption is within the bounds of what would be considered responsible.

Alcohol is a big part of life in Canada and around the world. It is a staple at most social gatherings for adults. It is used to celebrate milestones and accomplishments, or as a means to relax after a long day. If you are over the age of 19 and not notably inebriated, you can easily get your hands on some alcohol without spending enormous sums of money.

When Does Drinking Become “Too Much”?

Because of the availability and social acceptability of alcohol, it can be difficult to know when you have crossed the line from regular drinking to problem drinking.

Here are 20 signs that you or a loved one may have an alcohol drinking problem.

#1 You regularly exceed Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines

According to Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, those assigned male at birth should consume no more than three drinks at a time and a total of 15 drinks per week, and those assigned female at birth should consume no more than two drinks at a time and a total of 10 drinks per week. These guidelines are based on averages: your safe alcohol limits may be different based on your age, weight, state of health, whether you are taking any medications, and any prior history of substance abuse.

#2 You experience cravings for alcohol

Most people who consume alcohol do not experience cravings. If you are consuming alcohol frequently, you may start to experience an overwhelming desire to drink. This can set in hours, days, or even weeks after the last consumption of alcohol. For many people, the only way to get rid of this craving is by drinking alcohol.

cravings for alcohol

#3 You are hiding your alcohol consumption from friends and family members

If you are doing anything to hide your alcohol consumption from the people who are close to you, you may have an alcohol drinking problem. For some people, this means physically hiding alcohol in strange places. For others, it means lying about how much alcohol is being consumed.

#4 You shift money around to finance your alcohol consumption

A single bottle of wine or six-pack of beer is fairly inexpensive. But if you are overusing alcohol on a regular basis, the cost starts to add up. You may find yourself moving money from one bank account to another, withdrawing larger amounts of cash, or using funds intended to pay bills to buy alcohol.

#5 Your alcohol consumption is getting in the way of your personal relationships

Most people don’t mind if their spouse or parent comes home from work and cracks open a beer. But if your drinking starts to cut into family time or make you behave aggressively toward your loved ones, your relationships may start to suffer. As alcohol occupies an ever-increasing part of your life, it may drive a wedge between you and the people you love.

#6 Your alcohol consumption is getting in the way of work or school

getting in the way of work or school

Alcohol can affect your professional life in several ways. Perhaps you have fallen into a habit of calling in sick to work – or asking someone to do so on your behalf – because of a hangover. Or maybe you have started showing up late. For some people, alcohol consumption extends into work or school hours, leading to declines in performance. If alcohol is regularly preventing you from performing at your best at work or school, it may be time to look at your consumption.

#7 You cancel social plans because they get in the way of your drinking

For most people, alcohol is a way of being social. We go to a gathering or a celebration, and it’s the most natural thing in the world to have a drink. Once alcohol dependence takes hold, though, the opposite starts to happen. You may start avoiding these gatherings because you don’t want people to see how much alcohol you are consuming. You would rather be alone so you can drink as much as you like without having to worry about social decorum.

#8 You buy alcohol from multiple retailers to avoid recognition

People who consume alcohol moderately or lightly can visit their local alcohol retailer without a second thought. If you are drinking large amounts of alcohol each day – and therefore having to replenish it – you may start to worry that the staff at your regular liquor outlet will notice your excessive purchases. A lot of people with alcohol addictions rotate between retailers to avoid suspicion.

#9 You cannot quit alcohol in spite of attempts to do so

Nobody picks up an alcoholic beverage with the intention of becoming addicted to alcohol. On the contrary, people in the early stages of alcohol addiction often have an awareness that they are drinking too much, and they decide to either quit or embark on a period of abstinence. The cravings may prove to be too overwhelming to handle, though, resulting in a relapse.

#10 You consume alcohol at times that are not considered socially acceptable

Most societies have evolved in such a way that “normal” consumption of alcohol is reserved for specific times. For instance, it is acceptable to have a drink in the evening, when the day’s work is done, but not in the morning. It is fine to drink at a gathering of adults, but not at a child’s birthday party. If you are starting to break those unwritten rules – for example, if you are drinking upon waking up or while driving to work – your alcohol consumption may be problematic.

#11 You experience withdrawal symptoms when you are not drinking

If you overuse alcohol regularly over a prolonged period of time, you may start to experience withdrawal symptoms when you’re not drinking. The severity of symptoms depends on several factors, including the frequency and amounts of alcohol consumption. Symptoms range from mild anxiety and irritability to high blood pressure and seizures.

#12 You are drinking progressively more alcohol

Sometimes people drink alcohol not for the simple enjoyment of it, but to achieve the effects it produces: confidence, relaxation, an escape from stress. The more frequently you drink, the more you have to consume in one sitting in order to achieve those effects. If your alcohol consumption is creeping up, you may have started to develop that tolerance.

#13 You are unable to control the number of drinks you have

One of the hallmarks of alcohol addiction is that it renders you incapable of controlling your consumption. You may go to a social gathering intending to have just one or two drinks, but after one or two drinks you may think, “Just one more”. Before you know it, you’ve had several drinks and you are unable to stop.

control the number of drinks you have

#14 You engage in potentially risky behaviour when you have been drinking

Alcohol lowers your inhibitions and numbs your sense of danger. These two effects can result in you doing things under the influence of alcohol that you would never consider while sober. The obvious example is impaired driving, but you may also perform dangerous stunts, engage in criminal activity, or engage in high-risk sexual behaviour.

#15 You are losing interest in previously enjoyed activities

As alcohol starts to take over your life, you may gradually stop participating in things you previously enjoyed. To begin with, you may back out of the occasional engagement or take longer to read a book or complete a drawing. But before long, your hobbies and interests may be all but abandoned, either because you would rather spend the time drinking, or because ongoing use of alcohol is affecting your motivation and mental health.

#16 You feel anxious or aggravated when you do not have easy access to alcohol

The more you drink, the more you need to drink. If your body and mind have become accustomed to receiving alcohol, they may revolt when you try to abstain. If you are craving a drink and you don’t have alcohol available to you, you may become agitated and anxious.

#17 Friends or family members have asked you to stop drinking

Alcohol abuse does not only affect the person who is drinking – it also affects family members and close friends. Your loved ones may be feeling the effects of a disintegrating relationship, or they may be concerned for your wellbeing when they approach you and ask you to stop drinking.

#18 You have started neglecting your personal health and hygiene

Alcohol abuse often goes hand-in-hand with declining self-care. If you are no longer maintaining basic hygiene, you have stopped exercising, or you have abandoned healthy eating, you should seek help as soon as possible. Addiction is hard on the body, and the sooner you can return to a state of physical health, the sooner you can focus on addiction recovery.

#19 You are experiencing legal problems as a result of alcohol consumption

People do strange things when they have been drinking, and some of these can lead to legal trouble. Being pulled over for impaired driving or having to go to court because of alcohol-induced criminal activity are signs that your alcohol consumption is a problem.

#20 You are questioning whether you have an alcohol drinking problem

Human beings are intuitive. We usually have a good sense of when something is not right within ourselves. If you are spending a lot of time wondering if you have an alcohol drinking problem, something in your behaviour has led you to ask this question. That alone could be a sign that you need to seek help.

Alcohol Addiction Help Is Within Your Reach

No matter where you are in your alcohol addiction journey, Thousand Islands Rehab Centre is ready to welcome you. We offer customized alcohol addiction treatment programs that respect your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and social needs. We will guide you through your recovery journey, from detox and rehab, right through to aftercare. Call us today to learn more or to reserve your spot.

Alcohol Addiction

The Early Signs Of Liver Disease From Alcohol

Regular overuse of alcohol over a sustained period of time can result in significant health problems, including heart complications, neurological deficits, and various cancers. But of all the organs in the body that can be impacted by excessive consumption of alcohol, the liver probably bears the biggest brunt.

The liver is one of the body’s natural filters. It is a means by which we get rid of waste products and toxins. With its regenerative capabilities, the liver is remarkably durable. But even the toughest components will eventually wear down and ultimately break if they are not used properly.

Fortunately, the human body is intuitive, and the liver gives plenty of warning when it starts to function less optimally than it should. In this article, we will talk about how the liver works, what those early warning signs are, and most importantly, what you can do about it.

What Does The Liver Do?

The liver has many essential functions, one of which is to process all blood that leaves the stomach and intestines. It breaks down both useful and harmful substances within the blood. Useful substances like nutrients and medications are returned to the bloodstream and distributed to other parts of the body. Harmful substances are excreted into bile, which goes into the intestine and leaves the body as feces, or blood, which goes into the kidneys and leaves the body as urine.

The liver has been found to be responsible for at least 500 vital functions, including the following:

  • It regulates amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
  • It stores excess glucose in the form of glycogen, which it converts back to glucose as needed
  • It produces some proteins that are needed for blood plasma
  • It removes harmful bacteria from the bloodstream and produces immune factors
  • It regulates blood clotting
  • It convert poisonous ammonia to urea, which is passed out of the body in urine
  • It produces cholesterol and proteins to help move fat through the body
  • It stores iron and processes hemoglobin for its use

How Does Alcohol Affect The Liver?

When you consume alcohol, it is absorbed into the bloodstream via the wall of the stomach. From there, it is distributed to all parts of the body, including the liver. The liver processes alcohol in much the same way as it processes everything else, but it can only metabolize about one standard drink per hour. Anything over and above that circulates throughout the body, potentially affecting the other organs.

A single episode of binge drinking can interrupt normal functioning of the liver, and this in turn can result in your body chemistry being unbalanced. This is why people tend to feel a little rough for a day or two after a heavy drinking session. If you are not misusing alcohol on a regular basis, the liver is able to resume normal functioning.

Problems can arise if your liver is being called upon to metabolize alcohol on a continuous basis. It can lead to liver damage, resulting in the following:

  • Fatty liver disease: excess deposits of fat
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: inflammation of the liver
  • Cirrhosis: Scarring of the liver that is not reversible

What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Liver Malfunction?

early signs of liver disease from alcohol

The early signs of liver disease can be easy to miss, because they can be mistakenly attributed to other causes. In general, you should consult your doctor if you experience any unexplained symptoms that persist.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, your body may be giving you some early signs that all is not well with your liver.

  • You appear jaundiced (yellow-tinged skin and eyes)
  • Your urine is dark yellow
  • Your stool is unusually pale
  • You experience abdominal pain and swelling
  • You experience nausea and vomiting
  • Your skin is unbearably itchy
  • Your legs and ankles are swollen
  • You bruise more easily than usual
  • You are extremely tired in spite of getting sufficient sleep
  • You have noticed a decrease in your appetite

What Happens If The Signs Are Ignored?

Like many medical conditions, early intervention can be key to reversing early liver damage. The longer you leave it, the more extensive the damage will be, and the longer it will take you to heal. If left unchecked for long enough, you may find yourself dealing with serious long-term conditions that, in some cases, are not reversible.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Regular overuse of alcohol over a prolonged period of time can result in inflammation of the liver. Common symptoms include jaundice, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, chronic fatigue, and abdominal pain. Advanced alcoholic hepatitis can result in fluid buildup in the abdomen, failure of the liver and kidneys, and confusion resulting from a buildup of toxins that would usually be broken down and eliminated by the liver.


Damage done to any part of the body can leave scar tissue, and the liver is no exception. The more you have liver damage resulting from alcohol or any other cause, the more scar tissue will form, and the harder it will be for the liver to do its job. Cirrhosis is not reversible, but you can prevent further damage by eliminating your use of alcohol and making some other lifestyle changes that are described below.

With cirrhosis, you may experience the symptoms of hepatitis, plus the following:

  • You bruise easily
  • Your legs, feet and ankles become swollen
  • You lose a significant amount of weight without attempting to do so
  • Spider-like blood vessels appear on your skin
  • You experience period irregularities not related to pregnancy or menopause
  • The palms of your hands become abnormally red
  • You experience a loss of libido, breast enlargement, or testicular atrophy

What Steps Can Be Taken To Prevent Further Damage?

This may seem like a doom-and-gloom scenario, but you do have the power to stop liver disease in its tracks. Fatty liver disease can be reversed if you make some changes to your lifestyle.

Stop Using Alcohol

stop using alcohol

The sooner you stop consuming alcohol, the sooner your liver will be released from the job of trying to metabolize it. You may be able to start reversing the harm of fatty liver disease in as little as two weeks. It is important to bear the following in mind when you are planning to quit drinking:

  • Withdrawal without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous. It is recommended that you check into a detox facility, where medical staff can keep you safe and manage withdrawal symptoms as they arise.
  • Your cessation of alcohol use should be permanent. Even if you manage to completely reverse your liver disease, those conditions will return as soon as you start drinking again.

Improve Your Eating Habits

Alcohol is not the only thing that can cause liver damage. Foods and beverages that have added sugars and trans fats can also do harm. Conversely, your liver will benefit from a diet of whole grains, unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.

Other Lifestyle Changes

Some other things that can help your liver include the following:

  • Drinking plenty of water helps with liver functioning
  • Studies are showing that smoking cigarettes can aggravate the symptoms of fatty liver disease
  • Any prescribed medication you take is processed by the liver: inform any doctor who is prescribing medication of a fatty liver disease diagnosis

Getting Help For Substance Abuse Disorder

You only have one body, and you deserve for it to be in good working order so you can live a long, fruitful life. If alcohol consumption is destroying your health, you have the power to change that, and we can help. Thousand Islands Rehab Centre is a full-service addiction treatment facility that will take care of you from detox right though to aftercare. We will design a treatment program that is tailored to your needs and circumstances. With our compassionate staff and our welcoming facility, you will soon be on the road to recovery.

Alcohol Addiction

10 Risks Of Alcohol Misuse

It is estimated that roughly 80% of Canada’s population consumes alcohol at least once during any given one-year period. While this number may seem high, the vast majority of alcohol use in Canada is within reasonable limits. About 15% of those who drink alcohol consume more than the quantities laid out in Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines.

Alcohol misuse is still a concern though. It costs the economy over $14 billion a year in healthcare, lost productivity, legal costs, and more. It destroys relationships and creates or exacerbates mental illnesses. Worst of all, it costs lives that can never be brought back.

In this article, we will talk about what constitutes alcohol misuse, and what the risks are.

What Counts As Alcohol Misuse?

Misuse of alcohol can take several forms, and although the general impacts are well documented, there is variability from person to person. How alcohol affects you in the short- and long-term depends on factors like your age, weight, state of physical and mental health, what medications you are taking, whether you are going through stressful life events, and more. If you do consume alcohol regularly, you should monitor your consumption and reduce it if needed, to account for any of these factors.

Exceeding Alcohol Use Guidelines

Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines recommend that adults assigned female at birth should not exceed two drinks in one day, with a maximum of 10 drinks weekly. Adults assigned male at birth should not exceed three drinks in one day, with a maximum of 15 drinks per week. Anyone up to the age of 24 should limit themselves to two drinks in one day, no more than twice a week.

Exceeding these guidelines could result in harm to yourself or others. It is important to note that these numbers are averages only, and could vary according to several factors. If you are on any medications or you have been diagnosed with a physical or mental illness, talk to your doctor about safe alcohol consumption guidelines.

Underage Drinking

In Ontario, the minimum legal drinking age is 19. It is illegal for merchants to sell or serve alcohol to people below that age. Nor can adults purchase alcohol and pass it to someone who has not attained legal drinking age.

There is a solid body of evidence showing that alcohol can have detrimental effects on developing brains. Drinking at young ages can lead to serious long-term effects, and it increases the risk of addiction to alcohol or other substances later in life.

Drinking And Driving

drinking and driving

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level for drivers is 0.08 in Ontario (80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood). This equates to around four standard units of alcohol. However, many people experience signs of impairment before reaching that level. The best course of action is to avoid driving after consuming any alcohol. If you have been drinking, hand your keys to someone who hasn’t, or find an alternative way of getting home.

Drinking Alcohol While Pregnant Or Breast/Chestfeeding

Some people believe that having the occasional glass of wine during pregnancy is harmless, but this has not been established. Until a safe amount of alcohol consumption is established for pregnant people, it is best to avoid alcohol entirely if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Similarly, alcohol has been shown to pass into breast milk. If you do have a drink, wait for two hours before breast/chestfeeding your baby.

Using Alcohol In Conjunction With Medication Or Other Substances

Alcohol alone can have some serious side effects, and these can be exacerbated when alcohol is used with other substances. It is essential that you talk to your doctor about alcohol consumption guidelines if you are using any medication, particularly benzodiazepines, barbiturates or opioids.

Using various street drugs with alcohol can be extremely dangerous, since many drugs are combined, or “cut” with substances unknown to the user.

Using Alcohol As An Escape

Most people use alcohol as a way to relax after a long day at work, to celebrate a special occasion, or to socialize with friends. If you are drinking as a way of escaping from past or present traumas in your life, this could be a sign that you do not have a healthy relationship with alcohol.

What Alcohol Misuse Risks Should I Be Aware Of?

Misuse of alcohol, either on a single occasion or as a repeated pattern, can have far-reaching effects on all areas of your life. Many people only think of the long-term consequences of alcohol addiction, but remember that it only takes one incident of impaired driving to send your life spinning out of control.

Here are ten of the biggest impacts of alcohol misuse.

Risk #1 – There Are Immediate And Long-Term Health Risks

Alcohol intoxication happens when you drink more than what your body is capable of metabolizing. The effects include impaired motor skills, poor judgment, mood swings, high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, and loss of consciousness. In most people who are generally healthy, these effects will wear off within a few hours, although you may be left with a nasty headache and a feeling of dehydration the next day.

Drinking large quantities of alcohol on a regular basis over a long period of time can result in serious health effects, including liver disease, various cancers, cardiac problems, digestive complaints, reproductive health problems, and cognitive decline.

Risk #2 – You Are At High Risk Of Accidental Injury Or Death

When you are under the influence of alcohol, your sense of judgement starts to fail, and your inhibitions are lowered. This can result in you doing potentially dangerous things while being impervious to the risks. Examples include driving while impaired, trying to perform dangerous stunts, and engaging in high-risk sexual behaviour. These actions can have life-long effects, and they can even result in your death – or the death of somebody else.

Risk #3 – Alcohol Misuse Can Lead To Aggression And Violence

One of the more frightening side effects of alcohol is mood swings. One moment you may be feeling happy and relaxed, the next moment you may feel the need to lash out at someone for no reason that they can discern. Many incidents of domestic violence are triggered by overuse of alcohol. Your victims could end up seriously hurt or worse.

Risk #4 – You Could Alienate Your Family And Friends

you could alienate your family and friends

Whether you are dependent on alcohol or not, the way you behave when you’ve been drinking can have a potentially traumatizing effect on the people around you. If you tend to become violent, your family might fear you. If you have an addiction that is making you deceptive, you may lose the trust of those closest to you. If there are children in the home and you are deemed a safety risk to them, they could be removed from your custody. Sometimes damaged relationships can be mended during rehab with a lot of patience and hard work, but there are times when those broken relationships are lost forever.

Risk #5 – You Could Lose Your Job

If you have developed an alcohol addiction, you may have reached the point where your body needs alcohol in order to function. When this happens, your life becomes centred around making sure you can obtain and consume alcohol. This often leads to increased incidents of lateness and absenteeism, erratic work performance, and workplace behaviour that results in coworkers feeling uncomfortable or afraid. If you approach your employer for help, they may give you a leave of absence so you can attend rehab. Many times, though, you could simply find yourself without a job.

Risk #6 – Your Mental Health Will Suffer

In many cases, mental illness is a trigger for alcohol use and alcohol addiction, but the opposite can also happen. Many people who become dependent on alcohol experience an increase in anxiety and depression. These effects can be compounded by the social isolation that many people with alcohol addictions experience.

Risk #7 – You Could Find Yourself In Legal Trouble

Overuse of alcohol can lead to you doing things that are reckless and illegal. The most obvious example is impaired driving: depending on whether you cause a collision, you could face charges over and above the impaired driving charges. You can also face legal trouble if you assault somebody, if you trespass on private property, or if you engage in other criminal activity, like breaking and entering.

Risk #8 – Attempts To Quit Can Be Dangerous

If you go down the path of alcohol addiction, you could end up in what feels like a no-win situation because it is so difficult to quit. One of the reasons for this is that the body can have intense reactions to alcohol withdrawal, and this could be dangerous if you are not under the supervision of a doctor. A severe form of alcohol withdrawal, called delirium tremens, is characterized by seizures, and can be fatal. If you are intending to quit using alcohol, we strongly recommend that you check into a detox facility that will keep you safe during the withdrawal process.

Risk #9 – You Could Become Addicted To Alcohol

become addicted to alcohol

Not everyone uses alcohol for enjoyment. Some people seek out alcohol as an escape. It can create feelings of relaxation and confidence. It can make people feel less anxious. The problem is that the more you use alcohol, the more you have to use. The amounts you consume have to increase in order to give you the same effects. Over time, your body becomes dependent on alcohol, and your life becomes consumed with drinking and planning to drink.

Risk #10 – Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

If you drink alcohol throughout your pregnancy, you face risks like preterm delivery and complications during childbirth. Your baby could be born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This has potentially lifelong effects for the child, such as inability to gain weight, cognitive delays, behavioural challenges, learning difficulties and social challenges.

Getting Help For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction

If you are concerned about alcohol misuse, either in yourself or in a loved one, call 1000 Islands Rehab Centre for help. With our compassionate staff and our beautiful location, we can provide customized alcohol addiction treatment in an environment that is conducive to healing. We look forward to being part of your journey to recovery.

Alcohol Addiction

Short-Term And 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.

Alcohol Addiction

How Harmful Use Of Alcohol Can Affect Your Life

Alcohol is an intrinsic part of life in most societies. When we get home after a stressful day at work, we unwind with a beer. We go out to restaurants and order wine to drink with our dinner. We celebrate birthdays and weddings with alcohol, and we ring in the new year while we are holding a glass of sparkling wine.

For many teenagers and young adults, getting drunk for the first time is regarded as a rite of passage. Alcohol is a staple ingredient for most parties that we attend as adults. The person who drinks the most is seen as “the life of the party”, while those who choose to abstain are pressed to “have a real drink”. When the party is winding down, guests are invited to “have one more for the road” before getting into their cars and driving.

All too often, people cross the line from having a drink to engaging in harmful use of alcohol. It is a fine line, and we often do not know when it has been crossed because it is socially acceptable – in some cases, socially expected – to get drunk.

The problem is that harmful use of alcohol, either as a one-off or on a regular basis, can have far-reaching effects on multiple areas of your life.

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Body

Most adults can metabolize about one unit of alcohol per hour. If you drink more than that, you can become intoxicated. This can result in nausea and vomiting, elevated blood pressure, headaches, and impaired motor skills. Some of these effects can linger into the next day – what we know as a “hangover”.

Unless you consumed enough alcohol to experience alcohol poisoning, these effects generally pass as the body metabolizes the alcohol. However, if you consume large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, you may experience some longer term effects. These include the following:

  • Liver disease. Excessive alcohol consumption over a period of time can lead to fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and liver fibrosis.
  • Heart disease. Cardiac complications can arise, such as irregular heartbeat, stroke, cardiac arrest, and cardiomyopathy.
  • Cancer. There is a higher risk of certain cancers, like breast, throat, colorectal, and esophageal.
  • Cognitive decline. Long-term heavy use of alcohol can lead to neurological damage, which can result in learning difficulty, impaired memory and difficulty focusing or maintaining attention.
  • Digestive problems. Repeated exposure to large amounts of alcohol can cause ulcers, pancreatitis, and other problems relating to digestion and metabolism.
  • Reproductive problems. People with alcohol use disorders are at higher risk of erectile dysfunction, irregular menstruation, and reduced fertility.

Additionally, the use of alcohol during pregnancy can be harmful to the pregnant person and to the baby they are carrying. Risks include preterm labour, low birthweight, neonatal failure to thrive, and heart complications. The baby may experience the life-long effects that come with fetal alcohol syndrome, such as ADHD, intellectual disability, poor social skills, impaired motor skills, and behavioural difficulties.

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Livelihood

For most people, a glass of wine or a beer is simply a way to relax or be social with friends. They save their alcohol consumption for appropriate times, and if alcohol is not available to them, they do not get anxious or upset about not being able to drink. They are able to moderate their use of alcohol.

On the other hand, most people with alcohol use disorders drink in order to achieve a certain effect – to reduce social anxiety, to escape from stress, to cope with trauma, or any number of other reasons. If this behaviour is repeated enough times, it can quickly become a situation of, “the more you drink, the more you need to drink”. As your body and mind become used to the effects of alcohol, you find yourself needing to consume more in order to achieve those effects.

While this is happening, your body is developing a dependence on alcohol, meaning that you need to drink in order to function. And when this starts happening, alcohol consumption can take over areas of your life where it could do a lot of damage.

This can affect your livelihood and your financial wellbeing in several ways:

  • As your alcohol dependence grows, you will spend increasing amounts of money on alcohol. A bottle of wine or a few beers here and there may not impact your family finances much. However, if you reach the point of needing to have a drink as soon as you wake up, you may be buying your alcohol with money intended for groceries or bills.
  • You may start restructuring your life around your alcohol consumption. This may involve planning alternative routes to work so you can purchase alcohol on your way to the office, requesting different shifts to allow for your typical “down” times, and taking more frequent breaks.
  • Being dependent on alcohol can result in you being late for work, and you may find yourself calling in sick frequently as a result of drinking or recovering from drinking.
  • Your work performance itself can suffer, especially if your job involves physical strength or coordination, or mental acuity. In some cases, this can put coworkers or customers in danger.

Poor or dangerous work performance, lateness, absenteeism, and inconsistent hours can lead your employers to think of you as unreliable. You may be at risk of losing your job, and if your alcohol consumption caused injury or damage to property, you could also be on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

How Alcohol Can Affect Your Relationships

affect your relationships

Like most addictions, alcohol use disorders can damage relationships with loved ones. The period of addiction – and in some cases, the circumstances leading up to the addiction – can create mistrust and fear.

Here are some of the ways in which harmful alcohol use can damage relationships.

  • As you spend more money on alcohol, you may be trying to hide elements of your family finances from your partner. This behaviour may intensify as bill payments become past due.
  • You may start asking loved ones to cover for you when you do not go to work, often by asking them to call your supervisor to tell them you are sick. This can lead to your family members resenting you for asking them to make excuses, and you resenting them when they refuse.
  • People with alcohol addictions frequently withdraw from contact with people, even those who are closest to them. You may be spending time alone drinking instead of spending time with your partner and children, and you may start declining invitations to spend time with friends.
  • Alcohol consumption can result in aggressive behaviour and violence. Many incidents of domestic assault are fuelled by alcohol. Not only does this generate fear and trauma among your loved ones, it can put their safety at risk, and it could result in children being removed from your custody.

The Human Cost Of Impaired Driving

Whether you use alcohol excessively just once or as a regular pattern, impairment can lower your inhibitions and reduce your powers of judgment. This leads to potentially risky behaviour, including driving while under the influence of alcohol.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 1,273 people lost their lives in 2014 as a result of drug or alcohol impaired driving. Alcohol was a factor in more than half of these fatalities, as well as thousands of injuries that range from minor to permanently life-altering. It is not only the impaired driver who is at risk, but also anyone who happens to be walking or driving anywhere nearby.

Impaired driving creates tragedies that do not need to happen. While legal  blood alcohol content (BAC) limits have been laid out in impaired driving legislation, it is important to remember that you could be impaired even before reaching those legal limits. Your age, weight, state of health, medications that you use, and other factors could result in your “safe” BAC level differing from the legal guidelines.

Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we do not treat addictions – we treat people. To us, you are not “just an addict”. You are a human being struggling with a devastating illness, and we are here to help you. We will put together a customized addiction treatment program that takes into account your unique situation, and we will help you build the strength and the tools to cope in the outside world without needing alcohol. To get started, call us today.

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


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.


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.


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 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.

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.