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Help Finding Public Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Alberta

Posted by on Feb 22, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

This month, learn how to access public drug and alcohol treatment in Alberta in the next installment of  Provincial Snapshot. Each month Canada Drug Rehab is outlining the steps you must take to access public drug and alcohol treatment in each province. If you read the blog on Alberta’s current mental health and addiction strategies, you will know that mental health and addiction are being brought under the same umbrella. Until that happens, the services are still split so you must access mental health care and substance use support in two different channels. This blog will detail how to access both kinds of care. If you or someone you know requires urgent help, please call 911. Drug and alcohol treatment in Alberta If you or a loved on has a substance addiction or any substance use concerns, find your nearest Alberta Health Services funded addiction office. Every major city and most large towns have an addiction office, they are often found in a provincial building. Most have a sobriety requirement. This means you may need to be 12 – 72 hours sober before visiting the office. These offices offer screening for addiction and mental health issues and can refer you on to the appropriate services like detox, outpatient, or inpatient rehabilitation. The outpatient programs are often available here and counselors can facilitate referrals to residential programs. Detox is available in major cities like Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, Fort MacMurray, Calgary, and Edmonton but many smaller towns do not have detox capabilities. Residential programs are usually 18-20 days long and despite being publicly funded be prepared to pay $40 a day for treatment. Mental health treatment in Alberta Alberta’s services are split, therefore the process for receiving substance use treatment is not the same as mental health care. If you or a loved one has mental health concerns you must first see your primary care provider. This can be a family doctor or walk in clinic. Describe your mental health symptoms to the physician so they can assess you for treatment. This physician can fill out and fax any referral documents to Access Mental Health (AMH). There is one AMH per health zone in Alberta. You can find which zone you are in here. AMH calls you and does an assessment over the phone so they can redirect you to the appropriate resources. They also help you understand and navigate the system and can facilitate referrals. Be aware, it can take a while from seeing your GP to when you start receiving treatment. If you need more help finding public drug and alcohol treatment in Alberta please email or call our specialist. References: AHS Zone Map Access Mental Health Addiction Services: Adult Detoxification Current Alberta Government Drug and Alcohol Treatment Strategies The post Help Finding Public Drug and Alcohol Treatment in Alberta appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Marijuana Legalization Talks in the News

Posted by on Feb 20, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Marijuana legalization was in the news this past week with two events in Ottawa moving things along. Thursday, February 15, Senate leaders agreed on a timeline to get federal marijuana legislation passed by the summer. On the same day also in Ottawa, the Senate legal affairs committee was hearing concerns from various criminal justice groups who will be impacted by legalization. Legal affairs committee The president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police told the committee that he anticipated a surge in impaired driving litigation. Impaired driving cases currently account for 10% of the cases before Canadian courts. Stats Canada states that “drug-impaired driving cases currently take about twice as long on average to litigate in court than alcohol-impairment cases do, and are less likely to receive a guilty verdict.” Theoretically this could change once there is cannabis specific legislation. However, the Canadian Bar Association said changes in this well-established area of the Criminal Code would bring a large amount of uncertainty and therefore more room for defense litigation. The THC testing is still being refined which offers even more defense help. Yet another part of the bill almost invites a constitutional challenge as it makes breath testing for drivers mandatory. Currently police must have reasonable suspicion. Overall the largest concern seems to be the burden on the courts. Marijuana legalization timeline decided upon Despite concern that the Conservatives would try and push back the vote, all groups in the Senate agreed to a June 7, 2018 vote. This planned timeline is believed to give stakeholders, governments, businesses, and law enforcement agencies a better idea of how and when the bill will be addressed. The bill, Bill C-45, is currently in its second reading debate which should be finished end of March. Following this, five Senate committees will study Bill C-45 and deliver a report to the Senate preceding the final debate. Parliament is in session until late June so hopefully any back and forth can be resolved between the time of the vote and end of session. If the bill passes, marijuana would become legal two to three months later. References: Challenges to drug-impaired driving charges likely to clog up Canada’s courts, police warn Cannabis could be legal this summer after all after Senate agrees on timeline to pass bill The post Marijuana Legalization Talks in the News appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Current Alberta Government Drug and Alcohol Treatment Strategies

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Alberta is addressing mental health and addiction issues by improving drug and alcohol treatment facilities in Red Deer, Lethbridge, and Medicine Hat. The NDP government has increased overall funding and upgraded social detoxes to medically supervised clinics. The government is being guided by a province wide mental health and addiction review released at the beginning of 2016. Opioid Crisis Response Alberta has focused on five main objectives to address the opioid crisis the province is facing. A dedicated opioid emergency response commission is one of these objectives and it will oversee the achievement of the other four. Funding for community organizations to continue to educate Albertans will come through public awareness grants. Increased reporting and monitoring of events like overdose deaths, prescribing patterns, and the levels of use and misuse of opioid will give the commission baselines to work from and later refer to. Harm reduction in the form of safe consumption services, also known as safe injection sites, will greatly help decrease overdose deaths. Community Based Medical Treatment Safe Harbour Society in Red Deer, Alberta opened 20 new medically supported detox beds in November of 2017. The Alberta government allocated $1.6 million dollars to the society to support the existing clinic. It is a 20 bed clinic with five beds being extended stay to allow for overlap between detox and getting into residential treatment. Safe Harbour’s success is paving the way for new treatment facilities in Alberta. New opioid clinics and other treatment programs are planned for Calgary, Cardston, Edmonton, Fort McMurray,  Grande Prairie, and Sherwood Park. Review Committee Recommendations Valuing Mental Health: Report of the Alberta Mental Health Review Committee was released at the beginning of 2016. It outlined 32 recommendations following a review of the province’s mental health and addiction system. Since then, the Alberta NDP has said they took action on 6 priority recommendations. The Safe Harbour clinic in Red Deer was one of these recommendations. Lethbridge and Medicine Hat are also receiving funding for drug and alcohol treatment facility upgrades. The mental health and substance use budget for 2017 was $80 million, a 64% increase over 2016. “Of this, $15 million of new funding is dedicated specifically to address the recommendations in the Valuing Mental Health Review report.” References: How Alberta hopes to help improve mental health and addictions services Valuing mental health: Next steps Valuing Mental Health: Report of the Alberta Mental Health Review Committee 2015 Alberta’s Opioid Crisis Response Provincial support improves opioid treatment The post Current Alberta Government Drug and Alcohol Treatment Strategies appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Drug Fact Sheet: Alcohol

Posted by on Feb 8, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

History Alcoholic beverages have existed almost as long as human civilization. Ancient Egypt, China, Greece and India all have alcoholic drinks dating back thousands of years. Just like today, they used fermented grain, fruit juice, or honey to make ethyl alcohol/ethanol. Over the centuries alcoholic beverages have ranged from being very mild to very strong. In the 18th century the British government encouraged the production of spirits and unwittingly created a widespread alcoholism problem. By the 19th century drunkenness had become unseemly and there was a lot of public illwill towards alcohol. Prohibition was instituted in many countries in the early 20th century and was largely ineffective. Now, each country in the world has its own laws and regulations around alcohol consumption. Some have low age requirements like Germany where the legal drinking age is 16. Others are completely dry countries due to religious observance like Saudi Arabia. Effects Mild consumption of alcohol is not necessarily bad, however it is not without its effects on the body. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This is noticeable when people under the influence of alcohol are slow to react, have slurred speech, or have troubles walking in a straight line. Short term negative impacts are dehydration, impaired judgement, and even blacking out. Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to many serious health problems. Alcohol is processed in the liver, and overconsumption means placing the liver under stress. Long term alcohol use can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and eventual liver failure. Alcohol also damages many other areas of the body including the pancreas and digestive system. Treatment Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the USA and Canada. It is hardly surprisingly considering almost every adult social (and often work) gathering will be held at a place that serves alcohol. In the USA up to 40% of patients in large urban hospitals are there with illnesses that have been caused or exacerbated by drinking alcohol. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the USA states that “alcohol problems can yield to scientifically-based medical and psychosocial intervention in the same way as other health conditions are responsive to prevention and treatment”. There are many approaches to treatment, and it often comes down to what the individual responds to best. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol, please use our directory to find the nearest resources. References: Alcoholism: Natural History and Background The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body Short and Long Term Mental Effects of Alcohol Alcohol: A Short History Your Checklist When Looking for Addiction Treatment The post Drug Fact Sheet: Alcohol appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Liberal Caucus Supports Decriminalization

Posted by on Feb 6, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

The federal Liberal caucus has recently released 39 resolutions for consideration at the upcoming Liberal Convention in Halifax in April. Among the resolutions are two that relate specifically to mental health and addiction. First, the Liberal MPs are calling for the decriminalization of possession and consumption of all illicit substances in Canada. Second, that mental health services are included in the Canada Health Act and Medicare. Decriminalization of illicit substances The call for decriminalization points to Portugal’s success with expanding treatment and harm reduction services in conjunction with eliminating criminal penalties for low level possession and consumption of illicit drugs. Portugal implemented these changes in 2001 which has given a large enough timeline to show success or failure. Since 2001 deaths from drug overdose, as well as underage use have decreased which the number of people in treatment has increased. They have also seen a drop of 60% in people arrested and seen in court. It is easy to see how the savings in the criminal system could be transferred over to the health sector. The rising overdose deaths and categorical “epidemic” that Canada is experiencing is evidence enough to warrant a change. The data from Portugal also shows that this shift has longevity. Currently we are having those with substance use issues incarcerated with no rehabilitation so the cycle repeats itself. Portugal’s emphasis on health means those using substances are offered treatment as soon as they are found in possession, as opposed to Canada’s hard to navigate and access treatment system. Mental health care to join Medicare The inclusion of mental health services in both Medicare and the Canada Health Act is something that makes so much sense it’s surprising its not already a reality. Many Canadians have a hard time finding affordable mental health care. Separating mental from physical health is an outdated ideology that is being shown to be detrimental to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. The Liberal caucus is proposing to “amend the Canada Health Act and develop a national framework to ensure the inclusion of mental health services within Medicare”. By comparison, BC’s NDP government has created a whole new ministry for mental health instead of expanding the existing ministry of health. If this resolution is accepted at the April convention, it will be interesting to see which of this ideology’s proves successful; integration or segregation of services.   April’s convention in Halifax is the first since the Liberal party’s new membership policy. Anyone can register for free to be a party Liberal and take part in policy development, conventions, and vote. Registration is currently open for anyone looking to attend the convention. References: Liberal MPs urge dropping criminal penalties for all illicit drug use Liberal Policy Resolutions Liberal caucus proposes decriminalization of illegal drug use, simple possession Current BC Government Strategies to Tackle Mental Health and Addiction The post Liberal Caucus Supports Decriminalization appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Black History Month: Dr Solomon Fuller and Advancements in Psychiatry

Posted by on Feb 1, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

February is Black History Month, so it’s a great time to look at the contributions to the mental health and addiction field by black Canadians and Americans. Dr Solomon Fuller was the first black psychiatrist recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. He graduated from medical school in 1897, and his main study interests were Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and manic depression. Dr Fuller studied under Dr Alzheimer in Munich for a year, and continued his work in neuropathology once back in the USA. He worked as a psychiatrist and consultant at Westborough Hospital, and an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine. There is now The Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center in Boston. The beginnings of schizophrenia The term schizophrenia only came about in 1910. Swiss psychiatrist Paul Eugen Bleuler chose the Greek words schizo (split) and phren (mind). He chose those to refer to the symptoms of dissociation or ‘loosening’ of thoughts and feelings. This new term was to counteract the existing concept that these patients were experiencing premature dementia. Schizophrenia sufferers were previously considered to be having mental deterioration and it was presumed they would eventually act as someone with dementia. At the same time a clearer idea of schizophrenia was developing, so was our understanding of Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia. Dr Alois Alzheimer, who Dr Solomon Fuller studied under in 1904, first saw physical changes to the brain in someone with Alzheimer’s in 1906. Schizophrenia today Over one hundred years later, the medical community still has much to learn about the brain and its functions. Although, the development of anti-psychotic medication has greatly improved the lives of modern schizophrenia sufferers. Still, schizophrenia and manic depression are often present in those with concurrent disorders. Concurrent disorders occur when someone is struggling with both substance use and a mental health disorder.  Over half of people with schizophrenia have had a substance use problem at one point, and up to 90% have a nicotine addiction. It is now believed a more holistic approach is required to help those suffering with both addiction and mental health successfully. References:  21 medical pioneers to celebrate this black history month Schizophrenia Society of Canada Brief history of schizophrenia Alzheimer’s disease fact sheet Solomon Carter Fuller: First black psychiatrist What are concurrent disorders The post Black History Month: Dr Solomon Fuller and Advancements in Psychiatry appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Bell Let’s Talk: How to be a Better Mental Health Ally

Posted by on Jan 31, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Bell Let’s Talk: How to be a Better Mental Health Ally

In 2010, Bell Media became a corporate leader in further the conversation around mental health when they launched the Bell Let’s Talk Day initiative. Every year on Bell Let’s Talk Day, Bell donates 5 cents for every applicable text, call, tweet, social media video view, and use of a Facebook frame or Snapchat geofilter. This year it is today, January 31st. As part of this campaign, the Bell Let’s Talk website has many resources for those struggling with their mental health, and for others hoping to help those struggling. This blog post will focus more on the allies hoping to help. Often people don’t know how to approach their friends or family members who are showing signs of distress. Bell suggests 5 ways to help that hopefully help people avoid common missteps. Language Matters Just as we no longer use racial or homophobic slurs, there are words that are tossed around in today’s society that can cause a lot of harm for those struggling with mental health. For example, “Oh you’re acting so crazy again!”. Actively working to remove harmful words like psycho, crazy, and mental will go a long way to fostering a positive and productive conversation. A different way to approach someone like in the previous example is “I can see you are feeling out of control right now, is there anything I can do for you?” Educate Yourself Most people have a preconceived notion of what mental illness looks like. However, much of that “knowledge” is from what we have seen in the media, which is often not a correct portrayal of the reality of mental illness. If a friend or family member has recently been diagnosed with depression, do some research.  Look at medical websites that accurately describe what depression can look like from the outside. Hopefully the resources you find will also try to put into words how your loved one might be feeling, to help you gain a better understanding of what they are going through. Be Kind This one seems pretty obvious. However, compassion and empathy aren’t always our go-to reactions when a loved one is “acting out”. Try to remember no matter how difficult they seem to be, they are having to live this reality. It is important to realize they might have limited or no control over their actions. Acknowledging their struggle is a good first step to making sure they feel heard, accepted, and safe. Listen and Ask Truly listening to what someone is saying is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. When you are already trying to “fix them” and have your ideas about what is going to work, you might not be hearing what they are actually asking for. Often those with a mental illness are so afraid of how their network will react, that they don’t reach out. Be the one to ask “is everything ok?” or “I’ve noticed you haven’t made it out to the last few family gatherings, I know they can be stressful. Is there anything I can do to make it easier for you?”. Talk About It Being open with your feelings can help break down stigma and let others know its okay to do the same. So many mental health issues are helped by talking about it. Whether that looks like...

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Current BC Government Strategies to Tackle Mental Health and Addiction

Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Current BC Government Strategies to Tackle Mental Health and Addiction

In compliment to the Provincial Snapshot series which outlines how to access province specific public treatment, we are also profiling each provincial government’s strategies to tackle mental health and addiction. Outlined here are the promises the newly elected BC NDP government has made in regard to mental health and addiction that are intended to make recovery easier for British Columbians who are suffering from mental health and/or substance use issues. Improving Access Part of the NDP’s platform is the creation of a brand new ministry, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions. This is in an attempt to streamline services and make the system more accessible to those who really need it. However, since mental health is still health, some industry professionals believe it should be part of the Ministry of Health. An example of the confusing and complex way these services are listed is touched on in part one of this Provincial Snapshot. In order to gain access to public treatment in BC, people must access their local BC mental health and substance use services office. However, on the BC Mental Health & Substance Use Service website there is no list of these offices. People must go to their local health authority and search for the offices there. This roundabout way to get resources is one of the many reasons the system fails those who need it most. Early Prevention Many mental health issues start to manifest themselves in adolescence and early adulthood. The NDP is looking to bolster support for youth struggling with their mental health by ensuring more counsellors in schools and support for community programs. Evidence Based Treatment Many health care professionals have petitioned for concurrent disorders to take centre stage in how we care for those struggling. A concurrent disorder describes someone that is dealing with both a mental illness and an addiction. The majority of those with a substance use problem also have a mental illness so it makes sense to prioritize the treatment of concurrent disorders. The NDP has taken this in stride and made commitments to using evidence-based systems of care to ensure concurrent disorders are treated. They do seem to be averse to investing in residential treatment, with a greater focus on fostering development of current community outpatient programs. This is likely inline with their priority on early prevention. Opioid Crisis Specific Actions British Columbia’s opioid epidemic is widely known, and it is an issue that has now gripped the entire continent. The problem has affected the US so significantly that opioid abuse has now lowered the average life expectancy for Americans. With a problem that is clearly systemic and multi-faceted, just how does our new government plan to tackle it? The NDP has pledged to provide more support for first responders: by assisting the police with more resources to disrupt the supple chain and providing mental health support to combat higher than average PTSD rates in first responders. Many British Columbians are already acquainted with Naloxone and the NDP plans to increase access to these life saving kits. It is a little surprising there was no mention of harm-reduction sites. In Vancouver these site have been proven to greatly reduce overdose deaths in injection drug users. References: BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services BC NDP Platform 2017 Washington Post...

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Grass Roots Efforts to Battle the Opioid Crisis

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Two recent news stories show that there are many ways of battling the opioid crisis. Former BC Minister for Health, Terry Lake, has recently stated he believes that marijuana could play a part in harm reduction, and could help people come off opioids. The Roshni Clinic is a medical clinic in BC and a social services office in Alberta working to provide support to those in the South Asian community affected by drugs and alcohol. Marijuana an Option for Opioid Reduction? Terry Lake was the Health Minister for BC during the time of declaring a public health emergency amid the fentanyl crisis and is now working as a vice president at a Quebec based medical cannabis company. He says further research is required, but some preliminary studies show that marijuana can help those with opioid addictions. Some studies have looked at reduced opioid death rates in US states that have legalized marijuana. A Canadian paper on medical cannabis patients showed that there was 63% decrease in prescription drug use and 30% decrease in opiate use. South Asian Focused Clinic Helping Opioid Users Fraser Health, one of BC’s health authorities, has opened The Roshni Clinic in response to the need for culturally sensitive care and services in Punjab and Hindi. Thirty percent of the population in Surrey, BC is Punjabi speaking. Often people need to bring along family members to act as translators, which is not always ideal. Alberta provided more than half a million dollars to increase funding to the Punjabi Community Health Services in Calgary and it is hoped that the BC government will increase their commitment. In the Alberta office, they are focusing on providing culturally tailored counselling, as well as distributing naloxone kits. The Roshni Clinic is part of the existing South Asian Clinic at the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre in Surrey. There they offer a number of services including medical management of withdrawal symptoms, individual counselling, relapse prevention, and group and family education. Looking at South Asian communities across Canada, the CEO of Punjabi Community Health Services in Ontario, Baldev Mutta, sees the opioid addiction taking root in truck and taxi drivers. These men are offered thousands of dollars to transport drugs across the country. This can lead to forming an addiction as they need to take these stimulants to meet the extreme deadlines. Sometimes it happens the other way around. They are pressured into taking stimulants by other drivers and end up becoming drug runners to pay for their addiction. Either way, expanding resources and reducing the stigma within the community will hopefully help curb the opioid addiction crisis. References: Ex BC Health Minister says pot a Promising Substitute for Opioid Addiction Clinics Across Canada Expanding Addiction Support for South Asian Families Specialized Help Available for South Asians on Opioids Fraser Health Opens New Substance Use Clinic to Support South Asian Community The post Grass Roots Efforts to Battle the Opioid Crisis appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Provincial Snapshot: Accessing Public Treatment in BC

Posted by on Jan 17, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Provincial Snapshot: Accessing Public Treatment in BC

As part of our new series, Provincial Snapshot, Canada Drug Rehab will investigate the steps involved in how to access public treatment going from province to province each month. In Canada, you must be seeking treatment in the same province or territory as your health card. Only in rare cases can someone be referred across provincial lines. Therefore, if you are living in British Columbia and wish to seek treatment but are originally from Alberta, you must decide to either go back to Alberta for treatment or change over your health number/care card number to BC in order to receive treatment in BC. This month, we are starting with a look at British Columbia, the different health authorities in the province, and the best way to access publicly funded treatment. If you or someone you know requires urgent help, please call 911. Mental Health and Substance Use Services: Your Starting Point In order to receive public treatment in BC, you must start by calling or visiting one of the many mental health and substance use services offices. All major cities and most large towns have an office. First, find out which health authority you live in; this will help you find your closest office. There are 5 main health authorities in BC listed below and each is linked to the list of mental health and substance use offices found in that authority: Interior Health Authority (IHA) Fraser Valley Health Authority (FVH) Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCH) Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) Northern Health Authority (NHA) These offices are responsible for the assessment of necessary services. Those struggling with addiction will be assessed to see if they need detox, outpatient help, inpatient services, etc. The office can also help with referrals to alternate programs and options ie. detox, rehab. At these offices, families can receive support and education on substance use issues. Those looking for help can also receive outpatient treatment, one-on-one counseling, and group programs. There is one other health authority that spans the entire province. The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) allows for those with a valid status card to attend First Nations specific treatment programs within the province. Indigenous individuals can find their local FNHA office here. Some Improvements in Access The two health authorities in the Lower Mainland, FHA and VCH, have a “no barriers to access” policy. This policy has come about due to the opioid epidemic hitting the area hard. It means that those looking for help are no longer required to be a certain number of days sober before seeking treatment. This is in an attempt to battle the overdose deaths the area has been experiencing, and hopefully speed up the process to recovery. The bulk of the province’s population is in this area, therefore the majority of folks with substance use issues live here too. It is this reasoning that has meant that the rest of the province does NOT have this policy in place. Folks living in VIHA, NHA, and IHA must all meet whatever sobriety requirements their community’s specific office requires. However, some major centres like Prince George, Kelowna, Victoria, and Nanaimo can offer additional addiction resources not found in smaller towns in those regions. Inpatient/Residential Treatment (aka Rehab) Currently, Northern Health has no primary publicly funded residential program for...

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Where Addicts are Treated Like Human Beings