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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.

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.

5 Things you need to know about EMDR, Trauma and Addiction

By Nicole Makin, MACP, RCC

Having found my place in the rooms of Al-anon in my 20’s, I was blessed to find an incredible therapist who was 20 years sober in AA and highly trained in the treatment of trauma. With her support, I processed events from childhood that still overwhelmed me and contributed greatly to my codependent behaviors as an adult. With a sense of safety and trust established we moved on to EMDR therapy, a powerful form of trauma processing, and I rapidly moved from chronic anger, depression and insecurity to a sense of personal freedom and purpose in life that is still with me today. I learned how to inhabit and listen to my body’s messages through prayer, meditation, yoga, diet, exercise and daily affirmations. I reset my nervous system from stressed to calm and confident and was able to develop skills in areas I was deficient in due to traumatic childhood experiences. I went from feeling as though isolation was my only relationship skill to developing a sense of community and trusting myself with a variety of relationships. Now that we offer EMDR therapy in both our Vancouver and Victoria clinics, here are 5 things you need to know about EMDR, trauma and addiction:

1) Growth and development are stunted in addiction.

In treatment we say that a person’s mental and emotional age typically reflects the age when substance use begins. This is also true if you were raised in a home where substances were being abused and poor role modeling was mixed with the stress of living amidst addiction. In either case, the result is that we have a lot of people in recovery with adult bodies who have the emotional intelligence of 12-15 year olds. And like any 15 year old, they are often lacking in interpersonal communication, boundary setting, self-care, managing stress and problem solving. If we want to be healthy and reach our full potential in life, it is our job to become our own loving parent and help ourselves grow up!

2) Addiction and trauma often go hand in hand.

Addiction and trauma are often correlated. Amongst individuals with addiction disorders, many have experienced trauma while many trauma survivors struggle with addiction. What folks with addiction and trauma issues have in common is that we often arrive into adulthood lacking in the personal growth and development skills we talked about in number one. In fact, some people view addiction as a misguided attempt to gain a sense of control over the enormous stress that people experience when they lack the emotional maturity and healthy supports or coping skills to meet normal life challenges in resourceful ways.

3) Trauma effects the functioning of the brain and the nervous system.

Mental health researchers and neuroscientists are widely in agreement that emotional trauma impacts the brain and the nervous system, particularly when it takes place during critical child developmental years. Children and adults who experience trauma often become more sensitive to external stimuli and it is believed that this is due to several factors happening in the brain and nervous systems.  This means that people who have experienced trauma are not as resilient as those who haven’t; they often feel unsafe when others don’t, and their brain can “shut down” during times of high stress.  This means that their brains are more vulnerable to the risks of addiction, and less able to deal with triggers when in recovery.

4) You can learn to be more resilient to life challenges.

The notion of resiliency is commonly discussed in the psychology field and it is believed that regardless of the nature or severity of trauma an individual experiences, certain individuals have the ability to overcome challenges and emerge stronger and wiser. Can we learn to be more resilient? According to the American Psychological Association website (2015), “resiliency is not a trait people either have or don’t have” but rather it is a skill set made up of “behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone.”  Bottom line: trauma doesn’t have to stand in your way forever because you can learn the skills you need.

5) EMDR can help!

EMDR is a form of psychotherapy designed to help treat the symptoms of trauma.  It allows a client to to address a traumatic experience that has overwhelmed the natural resilience and coping mechanisms of the brain. The painful memory is reprocessed through an eight-phased technique until it is no longer psychologically disturbing. By working with a skilled clinician, individuals can learn to understand their body’s stress response and how to achieve a sense of calm in the nervous system so that the brain can do the processing needed in order to integrate past experiences and move on with healthy living in the present. EMDR has been shown to be particularly effective in overcoming trauma by assisting individuals to develop the tools to change their state from stressed to calm and to fully process traumatic events so that they are no longer disturbed or triggered by them in the present moment.

If you`re interested in speaking to a clinician about EMDR, please contact 1-250-590-3168 in Victoria or 1-604-734-1100 in Vancouver.

Registration is Open for 2015 Healing and Treating Trauma and Addictions Conference

Registration is now open for our 2015 fall conference!

Historically, the Edgewood Foundation has partnered with Jack Hirose to put on a conference about healing and treating trauma, addictions and concurrent disorders. With amazing speakers like Don Meichenbaum, Stephen Grinstead and Margaret Wehrenberg, the conference has been an informative and expanding experience for over 2500 clinicians.

This year, the Edgewood Health Network is joining that partnership and taking the event national.  Instead of one city, we’ll be in three! Clinicians across the country will get a chance to attend in either Richmond (Vancouver), Winnipeg or Oakville (Toronto).  And with a full roster of knowledgeable speakers and practical workshops, it’s a chance to expand your skills as a mental health professional.  Here are a few of the presentations we’ll be featuring:

 

This event is eligible for up to 21 continuing education credit hours for the full three day attendance.

We look forward to seeing you there! Register here: https://conference2015.jackhirose.com/