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What You Should Know about Alcohol Use Disorder or Alcoholism:

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol has been and remains the most common substance of abuse in Canada. While the legal age of alcohol consumption is 19 in most provinces, people typically begin experimenting with alcohol in their min-teens and start drinking without incident in their early twenties and beyond. Despite the common place that alcohol holds in our society, there is a continuum of risks and problems associated with alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a recognized medical condition that refers to the regular use of alcohol despite recurrent adverse consequences. To be diagnosed with AUD, individuals must meet certain criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Under DSM–5, the current version of the DSM, anyone meeting any two of eleven defined criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of AUD. The severity of AUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

The Eleven Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as per the DSM-5:

  1. Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.

  2. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.

  3. A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.

  4. Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.

  5. Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.

  6. Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.

  7. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.

  8. Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous.

  9. Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.

  10. Tolerance, as defined by either of the following:

    1. A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect
    2. A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
  11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

    1. The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol (refer to criteria A and B of the criteria set for alcohol withdrawal)
    2. Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

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If you would like to learn more about the treatment programs provided by EHN Canada, enrol yourself in one of our programs, or refer someone else, please call us at one of the numbers below. Our phone lines are open 24/7—so you can call us anytime.

Staying Sober On Halloween – How to deal with triggers.

Staying Sober On Halloween – How to deal with triggers.

As Halloween approaches, it would be a good thing to keep recovery in mind. For some it will not be a first holiday sober, but for those who are still new to this, it can be hard to go through one without drinking or using substances.

Staying Sober Through Triggers

What are triggers?

Triggers are defined as anything that could make an addict use, make bad decisions and make the process of recovery more difficult. Often it is the people you hang with, the situations you’ll put yourself through and of course the setting. Halloween is a fun holiday where people tend to get intoxicated, being around such triggers might not be a good choice for a person in early recovery.

Drug use memories and relapse research have shown that a number of things can help a person to seek the use of drugs and alcohol long after they’ve stopped using. Known factors like stress and triggers (setting, music that reminds the user a time where he/she was intoxicated, friends who use) are all very capable of doing this, even after months of sobriety and quite possibly after years.

Simple solutions to a complicated problem

Here’s a few simple ways to help maintain the integrity of your recovery and staying sober on Halloween:

 

Then again, all of these options are strictly in the case that you’ll want to head out. There’s plenty of other things you can do that won’t involve being around said triggers. You can stay home and give out candy to those cute kids running around. It also goes without saying that you could attend a support group meeting. There’s obviously a lot of people in the same situation who would love to avoid triggers and be in supportful company.

The important thing is to keep your head on the prize. Recovery is the most important step to a better self, relapsing will only delay it and make the process even more difficult. Stay strong and remember that being sober is the best feeling.

 

If you, a friend or a family member has issues that needs to be resolved or talked about, do not hesitate to contact us via our various channels available. We are just a quick phone call, email, instant message away.

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Intensive Outpatient Programs: A Flexible Option for Addiction Treatment Could be the Solution

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Substance use disorders are pervasive and can affect everyone. Research has demonstrated that about one in ten Canadians reports having a substance use issue, and these individuals include professionals, those who are employed or self-employed and those who have other daily responsibilities and commitments such as homemakers and caregivers. At times, substance use disorders are problematic to the point that the individual needs to seek help from addiction counsellors and mental health professionals. Traditionally, when substance use is problematic, residential programming has been the conventional option for addiction treatment. However, taking an extended amount of time off could be a barrier in getting the help that is needed, especially for those who are employed or have daily commitments. It is for this reason that treatment providers also offer Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs). For those in need of addiction treatment, IOPs allow people to work and honour their daily commitments while also attending regular, outpatient treatment sessions in order to address their problems and to learn the tools that can help them maintain sobriety.

Outpatient programming is not for everyone but when appropriate, it can be a meaningful and effective treatment option to address a serious health issue such as a substance use disorder. As with any other treatment programs, recommending an IOP must be part of the individual’s treatment plan. This means taking into consideration any physical, emotional or behavioral problems relevant to the person’s care. The treatment plan must consider the needs of the client and begins with a comprehensive assessment of the individual. Once the assessment is complete, a professional can decide on the best level of care that will meet the client’s needs.

There are multiple factors that must be considered when determining whether or not someone is a good match for an IOP. For example, one of the primary considerations is the level of medical need such as a history of withdrawal symptoms, as well as existence of medical conditions that require monitoring. Professionals will also consider whether or not the individual has other emotional/cognitive/behavioral problems that may require closer attention by a mental health professional. In order to meaningfully participate and keep up with the program, the person must also have a sufficient level of motivation to be able to maintain sobriety while attending scheduled meetings. This often means that the client must have a stable and supportive home environment that will be able to foster a successful recovery.

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IOPs typically take a group approach, providing clients with opportunities to learn from and support one another while developing communication skills and socialization experiences that do not involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Such programs that cultivate a supportive environment, also establish a safe and trusting relationship between group members, as well as the counsellor. Those that are further along their path of recovery can provide guidance and support for newer members, helping them refine the new skills and tools they are learning.

Clients typically participate in a variety of groups that make up an IOP program. Such groups can include psychoeducational sessions or lectures, where individuals can begin to understand the nature of addiction and how it has been impacting their mind, body and social life. These sessions are often also accompanied by relapse prevention and skills training, as well as a selection of videos that may help clients with their understanding of the material. Other groups may consist of teaching some very concrete skills such as assertiveness training, refusal techniques and stress management strategies.
As with any other treatment program, intensity and client retention are vitally important for outpatient programs. Research shows that successful outcomes are closely related with the length of program and how often clients are able to attend. It is also important that once the client completes the intensive component, they attend regular aftercare meetings and create a close network of supports that will help them maintain a successful recovery going forward. Such meetings can also serve as a safety net in case the person begins to struggle and may require more intensive support in order to prevent a full on relapse.
Successful outcomes also depend on client’s individual characteristics. For example, research has found associations between severity of substance use and treatment success. There is also something to be said about how long someone has been struggling with an addiction, the severity if their cravings and how many previous attempts at treatment may have had. Finally, symptoms of co-occurring mental health problems such as depression or anxiety can also impact an individual’s recovery. Overall, it is best to leave the decision of selecting an appropriate treatment modality to a professional who is able to consider a variety of factors that may be contributing to the maintenance of the addiction. However, when appropriate, participation in an IOP can be a realistic, meaningful and effective means of addressing alcohol and substance use disorders.