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What you should know about Opioid Use Disorder

As declared by Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, North America is in the midst of an Opioid Crisis. It is widely accepted that the crisis has resulted from the proliferation of prescription opiate use, the wide spread availability of potent opiates such and Fentanal, limited access to appropriate treatment and the lack of a timely and comprehensive public health strategy.

“Opioids” refer to natural and synthetic painkillers derived from the poppy plant. The related term “opiate” refers to medications that use natural opium poppy products. For example, the drug heroin is an opiate. Physicians typically prescribe opiates to relieve acute pain from injuries and surgery in situations such as accident, dental procedures or caesarian section. Opiates are also used in oncology for chronic palliative cancer pain. Some well know opiates include:

  1. Morphine
  2. Codeine
  3. Heroin (Diacetylmorphine)
  4. Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  5. Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab)
  6. Opium
  7. Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  8. Oxymorphone
  9. Meperidine (Demerol)
  10. Methadone
  11. Fentanyl (Sublimaze, Actiq)
  12. Tramadol

To be diagnosed with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), 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 the eleven criteria during the same 12-month period receives a diagnosis of OUD. The severity of OUD—mild, moderate, or severe—is based on the number of criteria met.

The Eleven Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) as per the DSM-5:

1. Opioids are 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 opioid use.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. Continued opioid use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.

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

a.    A need for markedly increased amounts of opioids to achieve intoxication or desired effect.

b.   A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of an opioid.

Note: This criterion is not considered to be met for those taking opioids solely under appropriate medical supervision.

11. Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following:

a.    The characteristic opioid withdrawal syndrome

b.    Opioids (or a closely related substance) are taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms

Helping your child with addiction.

Helping your child with addiction, some important tips.

Being a parent can be very demanding already without having to deal with a teenager struggling with addiction. With everything that is happening in the world today, the last thing you’d want for your child is to have to deal with problems related to substance abuse. There’s a variety of reasons why your child might find him/herself addicted and the problem only becomes worse the more time that goes by without the issue being noticed. Keep an eye open for signs, they are there. If you don’t know them, read about it or seek help from those around you.

Keep in mind that if your teenager uses drugs or alcohol once in a while that wouldn’t make them an addict. Just like the occasional glass of wine for dinner doesn’t make you an alcoholic. But if you believe that they can’t go days without using, then there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Don’t play the blame game.

It is highly suggested that you don’t start a conversation built on reproaches, it will only make your child close up and it will be even more difficult to get crucial information about the dependence. Take a step back, breathe and talk calmly while asking questions in a kind manner. Your child will feel threatened and attacked because they know they have done something wrong. Experts advise talking to someone outside of the family, who is not emotionally invested and can be a neutral party.

Additionally a counsellor will help you to feel that you aren’t alone in facing this type of situation, other parents deal with the same problems as you and can help with past and current experiences.

Establish communication through trust.

It can be difficult to find the right time to be heard, but approach the situation with affection and attention. Your child needs to know that you are only trying to help them out of love and concern for their health. Don’t hesitate to read about the subject or seek professional help before getting into a strong debate you may not have the answers for.

If you have a family doctor who has regular follow-ups with your child, you can ask them if they have seen any changes, the urgency of the situation and perhaps what kind of drugs they’ve been using. If your child doesn’t have a family doctor, you can seek help from a psychologist, or a therapist outside of the family and friend circle that will be able to provide moral support.

Educate yourself about the signs of a child with addiction.

Make sure any unusual behaviour in your child doesn’t go unnoticed. You know your child better than anyone, not the school, not your neighbours or the school counsellor. If you aren’t sure whether something is a sign of addiction, do a drug test. Of course your child won’t like the lack of trust, after all if they are using, they will lie to you about doing so. But it can be one of the easiest ways to know if there is a potential problem.

Beware of potential abuse signs from their surroundings.

One of the common signs of a child with addiction is the circle around them or their being abused. You should know who your child is surrounded by and make sure that they want to be there. Someone who’s abusing or bullying your child will often be threatening them with harm if they talk about it. It is your role as a parent to know if your child is safe. Negative surroundings can be one of the strongest influencers towards substances. After all, everyone wants to fit in somehow and if it seems that the only way to do that, or be “cool”, is to use drugs and alcohol then they are much more likely to make that choice.

Engage in a conversation, stay firm.

You need to be able to say NO without being scared to show your authority, it is simply an essential educational attitude that a parent has to adopt.  Categorically refuse to give your child money until you absolutely know where that money is going. Also knowing what your child is doing in their spare time can really help to understand if the problem is as big as you imagined.

Often, your child will try drugs or alcohol as a way to defy your authority, but through repeated use they end up becoming an addict and that’s when a solution needs to be implemented. Talk to them, ask why this happened, what motivated their decisions, perhaps the problem goes deeper than you are aware. It isn’t always just because some friend said it was cool. Communication is key, as well as knowing how you will approach the situation. As mentioned before, seek professional help if you believe that you don’t have the knowledge to constructively have these conversations. They are trained to help guide you through them.

Remember what you’re doing this for, get the best help you can to make sure your child is in good hands.

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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