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Sex Addiction: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Written by Munis Topcuoglu, Editor at EHN Canada.

A valid definition and diagnostic criteria for “sex addiction” have long eluded experts because, historically, definitions and diagnostic criteria have either represented sexually oppressive cultural norms, or they have been vague and imprecise, requiring too much subjective interpretation. Cultural norms, oppressive or otherwise, are not valid bases for diagnostic criteria, because they have no scientific justification. The definition of “too much sex” has varied widely throughout history and currently varies widely throughout the world, and none of the definitions are supported by scientific evidence.

The following excerpt from the book Nymphomania: A History describes a historical example of the problem of diagnosing sex addiction based on cultural norms:

In the Victorian period, both doctors and patients who sought medical help believed that strong sexual desire in a woman was a symptom of disease. Self-control and moderation were central to the health of both men and women, but women’s presumably milder sexual appetite meant that any signs of excess might signal that she was dangerously close to the edge of sexual madness.

Another excerpt from Nymphomania: A History, illustrates the absurdity of Victorian doctors’ culturally biased understanding of the etiology of “nymphomania”:

Eating rich food, consuming too much chocolate, dwelling on impure thoughts, reading novels, or performing ‘secret pollutions’ [i.e. masturbation]… overstimulated women’s delicate nerve fibers and led to nymphomania.

Interesting to note, is that in the Victorian era, the male equivalent of nymphomania “satyriasis” existed in medical textbooks, but was almost never diagnosed in practice—because “a man wanting too much sex” was not really considered a thing. Fortunately, both science and culture have come a long way since then, and we are now able to understand sex addiction in more functional and less sexist terms.

Evidence-Based Definition and Diagnosis of Sex Addiction

If we make the effort, we can minimize cultural bias, and define and diagnose sex addiction based on evidence. The key element for deciding whether or not a person’s sexual behavior is problematic is determining whether or not their sexual behavior results in real negative outcomes. This is the most effective approach for identifying genuinely problematic sexual behaviors and it lays the groundwork for creating effective treatment programs for the people who have them.

Required criterion: negative consequences or endangerment

The necessary criterion for identifying sex addiction is that the person’s sexual behavior actually results in negative consequences or endangerment in one or more of the following ways:

Other signs of sex addiction: loss of control, frequency, consuming focus, and mood regulation

The following features can be signs of sex addiction when they result in negative consequences or endangerment:

The “other signs” by themselves are too subjective for diagnosis

The inability to control, reduce, or stop sexual behavior is only a sign of sex addiction when the person recognizes that the behavior has negative consequences or is unacceptably dangerous. Similarly, excessive frequency and repetition of sexual behaviors, or excessive focus on sex, can only be signs of sex addiction when the individual recognizes the negative consequences or dangers because, otherwise, “excessive” is merely cultural and subjective. It’s also important to note that, for similar reasons, engaging in sexual behaviors that others find offensive or disturbing does not, per se, indicate sex addiction.

What Is the Underlying Disorder?

Experts tend to agree that the problematic and uncontrollable sexual behaviors associated with sex addiction are usually the result of an underlying mental health disorder. They do not agree on which disorder is most often the cause, but the following is a list of possibilities:

Consequently, there does not exist an established standard process for how to treat sex addiction.

Understanding sex addiction as an attachment disorder

At EHN Canada, we find that nearly all of our sex addiction patients have underlying attachment disorders. Our experience has shown us that treating a patient’s attachment disorder is essential for helping the patient to overcome sex addiction, regain control of their sexual behavior, and have healthy and satisfying intimate relationships.

In adults, attachment disorders usually result in problems with intimate relationships that can include any of the following:

Hence, we understand that sex addiction is a relational and intimacy disorder and this understanding informs our approach to designing the most effective treatment programs to help patients overcome sex addiction.

Interactions with concurrent substance use disorders

Sex addiction and concurrent substance use disorders can interact in a number of different ways including the following:

At EHN Canada, we believe that it’s essential to understand how each patient’s sex addiction interacts with any substance use disorders that they may have. We address these interactions in the individualized treatment programs that we design for each patient. This approach allows us to create the most effective treatment programs according to each patient’s unique needs.

EHN Canada’s Sex Addiction Treatment Programs

Patients are admitted to our treatment programs based on screenings that evaluate the negative outcomes of their sexual behaviors and their persistence in engaging in those behaviors. Since we expect that problematic sexual behavior usually stems from an underlying attachment disorder, we analyze each new patient’s history of family relationships and family dynamics to learn about their attachment style. To allow us to further individualize our treatment programs to address each patient’s particular needs, we also screen for the following:

Ultimately, our goal is to develop a deep understanding of what the problematic sexual behaviors mean and signify personally for each patient, rather than try to understand the sexual behaviors in terms of any standard typology. We believe that this understanding allows us to design the most effective treatment program for each patient and reduces the influence of cultural bias.

Helping patients regain control of their sexual behaviors

EHN Canada treatment programs are designed to help patients regain control of their sexual behaviors. This begins with helping patients recognize and fully acknowledge the consequences of their problematic sexual behaviors. Next, we teach them how to identify and predict situations in which their sexual behaviors might have negative outcomes. We also teach patients how to identify triggers for their problematic sexual behaviors and how to address them in healthy ways. Throughout the process, we help patients with concurrent substance use disorders understand how their substance use disorders interact with their problematic sexual behaviors.

Whenever applicable, group education and therapy activities are conducted in small, intimate groups where patients can learn from each other in an environment free of shame and judgment. The following are some of the activities that help patients regain control of their sexual behaviors:

Teaching patients how to build healthy and satisfying relationships

Since we view sex addiction as a relational and intimacy disorder, our treatment programs include substantial education and therapy components focusing on interpersonal work such as effective communication, relationship building, and developing healthy attachments. Due to their interpersonal and experiential emphasis, our sex addiction programs involve more in-the-moment behavioral interventions compared to our other addiction and trauma programs.

Again, whenever applicable, group education and therapy activities are conducted in small, intimate groups where patients can learn from each other in an environment free of shame and judgment. The following are some of the activities that teach patients how to have healthier and more satisfying relationships:

Other elements of treatment programs

The following elements are included in some of our treatment programs or may be optional for patients:

Full recovery takes much longer than other addictions

A full recovery from sex addiction can take three-to-five years after completion of a treatment program. Therefore, long-term success depends on a patient’s commitment to participating in aftercare programs and to continue working on themselves after they complete one of our residential treatment programs.

EHN Canada Sex Addiction Treatment Programs

If you or someone you love needs help with sex addiction, please call us at one of our numbers below for more information or to enrol in one of our programs.

References

Groneman, C. (2000). Nymphomania: A History. New York, NY: Norton.

Krueger, R. B. (2016). Diagnosis of hypersexual or compulsive sexual behavior can be made using ICD‐10 and DSM‐5 despite rejection of this diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association. Addiction, 111(12), 2110-2111.

Ley, D.J. (2012). The Myth of Sex Addiction. London, England: Rowman & Littlefield.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_in_adults

When the Most Destructive Force in Your Life Is You, Then It’s Time to Reach out for Help

Opinion by Guest Writer
Written by Lorelie Rozzano, an internationally recognized author and advocate.

If you struggle with addiction as I have, you know the dark, hopeless place that exists on the other side of being high. It’s the thing that every addict tries to avoid—reality. Reality is the time and place when you’re not high or intoxicated and forced to face the consequences of your actions. For me, reality was the morning after. I’d lie in bed and remember all the horrible, embarrassing things I’d done the night before. I would replay each moment wishing I could turn back the hands of time and undo my humiliating deeds. To cope with my painful emotions, I sought relief through substance abuse and then the process would start all over again. I was baffled by my inability to use drugs and alcohol socially. I tried changing how much I used, what I used, and the places I used, but it didn’t help. Each time I consumed a substance, the consequences seemed to get worse. In spite of my good intentions, I continued hurting my family and my life was a mess.

At the time, I didn’t believe I was addicted. I didn’t know I was sick or that my thinking had changed. Addiction is sneaky. It starts with subtle shifts in your perception and behavior. The following are five ways it can play tricks on you.

(1) You’re in Denial

Denial is a primary roadblock to getting help. Denial makes things appear smaller than they are. Denial tells you your problems aren’t that bad. Denial says I’m not hurting anyone. Denial says I can quit whenever I want to. Denial protects you from facing the facts. Denial is dangerous as it minimizes warning signs and perpetuates the problem. No amount of pretending can make addiction go away.

(2) You Make Promises You Can’t Keep

You promise to show up on grandma’s birthday. Yes, you’ll pick up the kids after school. Of course, you’re coming home straight after work. But in spite of your good intentions, you’re unable to follow through. You can’t predict what might happen anymore. You’ve lost credibility. The more you try and control your addiction, the more it controls you. Every time you use the substance, you break hearts and hurt the people you love.

(3) You Manipulate Your Friends and Family

You lie to cover up what you’re doing. You tell people what they want to hear to get them off your back. You may pit parent against parent, or friend against friend. You know who to call when you need money. You’re good at fabricating excuses and making it seem like the problems in your life are never your fault. You blame others when cornered and manipulate your loved ones through guilt and fear tactics.

(4) You don’t tell anyone, but you’re scared, and you cope with your fear by using more

While using the substance was fun in the beginning, now it’s become work. Maintaining your addiction is a full-time job. When you’re not high, you feel fearful and anxious. The euphoric release you once found in the substance has disappeared. You’ve developed tolerance and need increasingly larger doses to produce the same physiological and psychological effects. You’re not using to feel high anymore; you’re using to feel okay and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

(5) You feel ashamed

You know your life is out of control, but you don’t know how to make it stop. You hurt everyone who loves you. Your best thinking is killing you. You can’t look in the mirror. You feel ashamed and avoid people. Shame is an uncomfortable, toxic emotion. Shame tells you you’re unworthy, unlovable, and inadequate. Shame says give up. Shame creates feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Take responsibility

While you’re not responsible for your addiction, you are responsible for your recovery.

Nobody wakes up and says “I’m going to be an addict.” But there is one choice addicted people make, and that’s how long they will stay sick. While addiction isn’t a choice, recovery is.

When the most destructive force in your life is you, then it’s time to reach out for help.

Good intentions followed by broken promises don’t mean you’re a terrible person. Substance use disorder is a progressive disease that if left unchecked can be terminal. But there is hope. Addiction is treatable. Recovery happens when you stop making excuses and start taking action. The key to wellness is breaking your silence and admitting you need help. There’s no shame in wanting to get better and the only way you can fail at recovery is to quit trying.

We Can Help You

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.

Recovering from Sex Addiction: Getting out of the Storm and Back to My Life

Opinion by EHN Alumni
Written by Adam W, a recent graduate of the sex addiction program at Edgewood Treatment Centre.

Before I arrived at Edgewood to start working on my recovery from sex addiction, my life was like being in the eye of a tornado. That might be a tough analogy for someone to understand, but I was in the middle of a storm, with no way out. Everything around me was getting caught in the storm and I was simply waiting for it to take me away with it. I couldn’t find my own way out, and I certainly was trying to harm myself enough so that perhaps I wouldn’t wake up. I remember the feeling of despair and this heavy sadness.  When it was suggested I “go away” for a while, to take a break and heal—despite the tremendous arguments I had to not go—I simply gave up and said “okay.” 

I had lost my wife, been kicked out of my house, and had been removed from being a part of my kids’ lives. My family of origin stopped being involved with me, my business was crumbling, and my closest of friends had given up on trying to help. As typical of a pre-treatment story that is—it was and is my story. 

I quickly packed my personal belongings in Calgary and travelled to Edgewood, soon realizing that I was no longer alone in this storm. The men’s sex addiction group in my treatment program was a critical part of my recovery and healing. I could speak with men who could relate to the pain and shame associated with engaging in problematic sexual behaviours for many years. Although the group structure throughout the week was tremendous for unpacking a lot of stuff, the ability to really do the work in the confidence of men who were walking a similar path made me feel safe to express, accept, and move on from that part of my life. In previous treatments and therapy, I had never been able to explore my problematic sexual behaviours and the associated guilt, shame, and sadness that I held inside. If I had not addressed that pain, I would not have been able to grow and find my footing in recovery. 

Some of the highlights of the program at Edgewood include the sacredness of the room, the compassion from the other men, and the guidance from the sex addiction therapists. The ability to share my story, the unheard version of my life that I was unable to previously share in co-ed settings, with other men who were willing to do the same, was transformational in my healing and essential for my recovery.

I learned that the work, meetings, groups, walking with men in recovery, and service to others are all lifelong habits and commitments that I need to make daily to continue to enjoy the blessings of recovery and good mental and spiritual health. It’s not a destination but a journey of awakenings, blessings, and sharing and giving that allows me to enjoy my life today.

The opportunity to give back in some small way to this program, and to the men with whom I walked, is something I cherish and for which I am thankful.

With gratitude for being in recovery from sex addiction,

Adam W.

We Can Help You!

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.

More Information About Our Sex Addiction Programs

You can also find more information about our sex addiction programs on our website:

Four Things You Need to Know About Fentanyl to Stay Safe

Fentanyl has been a problem in Canada for several years now and the situation is not getting any better. It feels like every day brings a new report about an overdose, an arrest, or a large shipment seized on its way to a Canadian city. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat severe and chronic pain; for example, it is often prescribed for cancer patients. Understandably, digesting all the information from numerous news stories and constant buzz can be difficult, so here we are providing some quick facts about fentanyl in Canada.

(1) It’s Fast and Deadly

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine and 100 times stronger than heroin. It’s so potent that you can overdose on as little as two milligrams. When ingested, it can reach your brain within minutes and cause respiratory failure. Many of the reported deaths have happened this way: someone takes half a pill, falls asleep and never wakes up.

(2) It’s Highly Addictive

Just like any other opioid, fentanyl is extremely addictive. Many users report craving it after just one use. Also like other opioids, regular users build a tolerance: they need to use more and more to get the same high, which is very dangerous with such a toxic drug.

(3) It’s Often Cut into Other Drugs

Fentanyl has been found in many other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and oxycodone. Often, people who think they’re buying oxycodone will really be getting Fentanyl. It has no odour or taste, and it’s invisible, so using a testing kit is the only way you can tell if it’s in your drugs.

(4) A Lot of People Are Dying

Given that you can overdose on an amount the size of two grains of salt, it’s not surprising that people are dying. This is especially true because many people are consuming fentanyl unknowingly through other drugs that are laced with it. People who do consume it intentionally, usually consume non-pharmaceutical street fentanyl produced by an amateur chemist. This implies that impurities and toxicity can be even higher than pharmaceutical fentanyl. Also, dealers often combine it with caffeine, meth, or heroin which increase the probability of a negative reaction or overdose. Vancouver has the highest rate of deaths from overdose in Canada, most of which are likely from fentanyl and other similar opioids like carfentanil. So far, this year (as of the end of September, 2018) there have been over 260 deaths from suspected overdose in Vancouver.

Safety Resources

TestKitPlus Fentanyl Testing Kit
Bunk Police Fentanyl Testing Kit
DanceSafe Fentanyl Testing Kit
How to get a naloxone kit if you live in BC

We Can Help You

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.

Dependence Vs. Addiction- What’s the difference?

 

 

Joshua Montgomery, Director of Operations- Bellwood Health Services

Transcript from video:

When we talk about addiction and when we talk about opiate use, a lot of things come up. There are a lot of questions around: What’s dependence? What’s tolerance? What’s pseudoaddiction? What’s actually addiction? And they are all very great questions.

Addiction is a neurobiological disease that has genetic, psychosocial and environmental factors. It’s characterized by poor impulse control, compulsive drug use, continued use of the drug despite any consequences to their finances, their mental or social well-being and there’s a craving for the drug.

People question about addiction versus physical dependence and so we see physical dependence in individuals who are chronic pain sufferers. We also physical dependence on things like anti-depressants and so forth.

The physical dependence is the body’s adaptation to a particular medication and what happens is the body becomes so use to it that without it, it kind of has a negative reaction, so the body needs that medication. Therefore, it creates dependence and a tolerance as well. Some individuals question well, I’m taking an opiate, I may be physically dependent, will that progress into an addiction? And that’s not always the case. A lot of individuals, who take opiates as prescribed, may be dependent. And chances that they are- will never acquire an addiction. Where we see individuals that shift from dependence to addiction are individuals that often have some concurrent mental health disorder, maybe there are some stressors going on in their life, maybe it’s provided some sort of secondary relief.

The best thing that you can do is reach out, reach out to a family member, a friend, your physician. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, reach out to a professional.Certainly, looking to resources in the community.

At the Edgewood Health Network, we’re a national organization, so we do have outpatient offices throughout Canada. We have residential facilities. We’re a good start. What’s nice about when you call a facility like ours, a facility that’s comparable, is the fact that they should have a continuum of care as we do. And that allows the client to recognize, ‘Do I have an addiction? Am I abusing? Is this a pseudoaddiction? We can really help to determine where you kind of fit on that spectrum of abstinence to addiction.

So, again just to wrap up: You gotta reach out, you gotta seek help, and there’s a lot of help out there.

 

Joshua MontgomeryJoshua Montgomery RN, joined Bellwood as the Clinical Manager of Intake and Assessment in 2014. Joshua graduated from Conestoga College’s Nursing Program and received his Registered Nursing certification in 2004. He began his nursing career at Grand River Hospital working in the area of pediatrics. While working in this area, he accepted a position with the hospital’s acute mental health and addictions services. Throughout his career, Joshua has gained experience working in a variety of roles, the majority of which has been acquired in acute mental health and addictions at Grand River Hospital. Roles included front-line nurse, prime nurse, patient flow coordinator, and patient relations coordinator.
While working in the area of mental health, Joshua developed many departmental processes designed to enhance the hospital’s care delivery systems, one of which was adopted by the entire organization. Following his time with acute mental health, he coordinated the opening and operations of Mount Hope Day Hospital, a facility focusing on mental health, in 2010.

One of Joshua’s greatest passions, second to helping others, is optimizing people’s abilities to help others.

What You Need To Know About Lethal Drug W-18

W-18, a drug referred to by the media as “a Frankenstein,” is making headlines because Health Canada has confirmed a number of Fentanyl overdoses in connection with it. Scientists state it’s more potent and lethal than Heroin or Fentanyl.[1] Originally, it was created to relieve pain several years ago and forgotten. W-18 has shifted back to Canada and has Canadian law enforcement officials concerned for the health and safety of people who are unknowingly ingesting drugs purchased on the streets that could potentially contain W-18.

Although Alberta is the main province that has seen W-18 in traditional street drugs, this opioid can quickly reach other Canadian provinces because of the current lack of regulation for it. It’s important that information about this drug be shared so that that people are made aware of the risks from using it. The following are some quick facts about W-18:

  1. 1. It’s extremely potent: It’s described as “One of the most dangerous drugs on the whole spectrum of synthetics or analog”[2] It is “10,000 times more powerful than morphine and 100 times more potent than Fentanyl.” [3]
  2. 2. The Likelihood of overdosing from W-18 is very high: Anyone that comes into contact could overdose immediately and needs medical attention right away.
  3. 3. It’s being mixed with other drugs: Even if you’re not looking to use W-18 you might unknowingly ingest it. People are cutting it up and mixing it with other drugs such as Fentanyl. Others may also sell it as Heroin or OxyContin.[4]
  4. 4. It’s very accessible: W-18 isn’t regulated in Canada yet. Technically, anyone can purchase it online or have it delivered to them in the mail. Health Canada states it is expediting the process of getting W-18 in the federal Controlled Drug and Substance Act.[5]
  5. 5. First line responders are preparing themselves for the worst: Emergency room doctors across Alberta are anticipating a rise in overdoses from W-18.[6]
  6. 6. Many Canadian scientists and healthcare professionals believe Naloxone may help with overdoses from this lethal opioid but it’s not a concrete solution to the problem.[7]

The Edgewood Health Network does not encourage recreational drug use at all. We want everyone to be aware of what W-18 is and the high risk of overdosing if you ingest it. If you know someone who is using drugs such as Heroin, OxyContin or Fentanyl, please find help.

Recreational drug use is usually a sign of something more serious than presumed. When you seek help for ingesting W-18 or any opioid, please ensure you are under the supervision of a doctor.

We are always available to discuss drug addiction and treatment in Canada 1-800-683-0111.

 

[1] Warrnica Marion. Canadian Police Fight a Frakenstein in New W-18 Street Drug. CBC News. (April 24, 2016) Retrieved From https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/street-drug-w18-delay-1.3550642

[2] Warrnica Marion. Canadian Police Fight a Frakenstein in New W-18 Street Drug. CBC News. (April 24, 2016) Retrieved From: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/street-drug-w18-delay-1.3550642

[3] Dangerous Drug W-18, More Powerful Than Fentanyl, Originally Invented in Alberta. CTV News. Published on April 21, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/dangerous-drug-w-18-more-powerful-than-fentanyl-originally-invented-in-alberta-1.2870077

[4] Warrnica Marion. Canadian Police Fight a Frakenstein in New W-18 Street Drug. CBC News. (April 24, 2016) Retrieved From https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/street-drug-w18-delay-1.3550642

[5]Consultation- Proposal Regarding the Scheduliing of W-18 Under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and it’s Regulations: Health Canada. Published on February 13, 2016. Retrieved From: https://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hc-ps/consult/w-18-eng.php

[6] Balca Dario. Alberta Police Warn of W-18, A Drug Far More Powerful Than Fentanyl. CTV News. Published April 20, 2016. Retrieved on: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/alberta-police-warn-of-w-18-a-drug-far-more-powerful-than-fentanyl-1.2867760

[7] NewlyDeadly Peril Looms For Drug Users; Bracing For Trouble. The Province. Published March 4, 2016.

Research Reveals the Baby Boomer Generation are Increasingly Developing Substance Abuse Problems

 

Within the last ten years, the face of substance abuse has changed in North America with more treatment centres having to treat a client population that are much older than it used to be.  Older adults are increasingly seeking treatment and support for painkiller and alcohol addictions. It was more common for addiction treatment centres to treat people in their 20s and 30s with substance abuse problems several years ago. Treatment and group therapy was focused on people of that age group as they shared certain demographics. Now, treatment providers  in the US and Canada, are receiving a wave of seniors with substance abuse problems and having to adjust the way they provide treatment and figure out what motivates our baby boomer generation to get well. So, why the sudden increase in our seniors developing addictions? There are several different factors that may be contributing to reasons why older Canadians are abusing alcohol or drugs.

The Main Triggers for Geriatric Substance Abuse

Loneliness, death, retirement and or health problems are the major reasons why our older generation are developing alcohol addictions, painkiller addictions or, in some cases, eating disorders. According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, women are more likely to be widows or been through a divorce, to have experienced depression, and to have been prescribed psychoactive medications that are negatively increasing the effects of alcohol. Research also suggests that several baby boomers that were in their early twenties in the 1960s, may have experimented with marijuana and other illegal drugs, are returning to these drugs as a way to cope with loss, stress or loneliness.

In addition to those factors, many seniors are entering retirement homes or those dealing with health conditions, are being prescribed more prescription drugs that have addictive characteristics. Alcohol is also being reported as a substance that is abused more heavily by seniors than it was ten years ago.  According to the British Columbia Medical Journal, one in six older adults are self reporting as heavy drinkers. The Canadian Addictions Survey in 2004, stated that 16% of people 55 and older admitted to heavy drinking. Substance abuse has a dramatic impact on the health of geriatric patients, which as a result, changes the way treatment centres provide care for them.

According to the BC Medical Journal, geriatric patients tend to have many medical problems as a result of the abuse in alcohol and the interaction of prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants.  Drugs and alcohol in older adults take longer to metabolize but its effects are felt faster because their bodies don’t carry as much water as they did when they were younger. Healthcare professionals won’t necessarily assess older patients for substance abuse because they don’t fit the common profile of a chronic drinker. A survey of 853 primary care physicians and psychiatrists revealed that only 13% of them used formal alcohol screening tools routinely.

Treatment and Early Intervention

The BC Medical Journal also revealed that early intervention and treatment in older patients works very well and would help geriatric patients avoid serious health consequences. Older patients understand the benefits of treatment such as improved cognition, independent living, improved health and better social connectivity.

It can be difficult to diagnose alcohol abuse or painkiller abuse in older patients as sometimes they can be confused for other health conditions or mental health disorders, such as anxiety, anorexia or depression. Some people may find it difficult to approach a loved one or to try and help an older patient with substance abuse because:

 

How to Identify a Senior Has a Substance Abuse Problem?

Research states that there are a few signs that may indicate an older person has a substance abuse problem. These can all be signs of other health conditions, but are commonly associated with signs of addiction in seniors:

 

If you suspect an older loved one or patient may be abusing drugs or alcohol, the Edgewood Health Network can provide a complimentary assessment and provide early intervention. Give us a call or email us to learn more about how we can help.

Fentanyl Facts: What you need to know about the drug showing up in Canadian cities

Fentanyl is all over the news right now. It seems that there is a new report every day about an overdose, an arrest or a large amount seized on its way to Canadian cities. Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate typically used to treat severe and chronic pain. It is often prescribed to cancer patients. With so much buzz and so many news stories, it can be confusing to wade through the information, so here are some quick facts about Fentanyl and it’s use in Canada.

  1. 1. It’s strong and fast:

Fentanyl is 50-100 times more toxic than morphine and 100 times more potent than heroin. Its so strong that as little as two milligrams can cause an overdose. After ingestion it can reach your brain within minutes and cause respiratory failure. Many of the reported deaths have happened this way; someone takes half a pill, falls asleep and they never wake up.

  1. 2. It’s often cut into other drugs:

Fentanyl has been found in many other drugs like heroin, cocaine and oxycodone. In fact, buyers often think they’re buying Oxy when they’re really getting Fentanyl. The drug has no smell or taste, and you can’t see it so there is no way to tell if other drugs have been laced with it.

  1. 3. It’s addictive:

Just like any other opiod, Fentanyl is extremely addictive. Many users report craving it after just one use. And like many drugs, users often build up a tolerance. They have to use more and more to get the same high, which is very dangerous with such a toxic drug.

  1. 4. People are dying:

When an amount about the size of two grains of salt can cause an overdose, it’s not surprising that people are dying. Especially when users don’t always know that their drugs contain Fentanyl. Even when you do know, you might be getting street Fentanyl. This is non-regulated and non-pharmaceutical, meaning that it was probably created by a dealer somewhere. The toxicity levels are rarely accurate and the drug is often combined with caffeine, meth or heroin so you really don`t know what you’re getting. Thus far in 2015, there have been 145 deaths connected to Fentanyl in Alberta and 66 in British Columbia. And it is both recreational and long-term users that are dying.

Of course, we don`t encourage recreational drug use in any way, but we want everyone to be especially careful with Fentanyl. The risk of overdose it too large. If you are using Fentanyl or know someone who is, please seek help. While we can`t speak for everyone, we find that opiod use is rarely recreational, and is often a sign of a deeper problem. Drugs and alcohol can take over your life so quickly and once they do, each time you use is a risk. When you seek help, make sure you find a place that you can safely and medically detox under the supervision of a doctor. Our phone lines are always open if you need to talk about opiod abuse or just want more information. 1-800-683-0111

Look for a more in-depth article about Fentanyl in our upcoming fall issue of Phoenix Magazine. Subscribe here: https://www.edgewood.ca/e-subscriptions