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Drug Fact Sheet: Crystal Meth

Posted by on Aug 14, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Drug Fact Sheet: Crystal Meth

Methamphetamine, often referred to as meth, is a strong and toxic illegal drug. It is part of the stimulant category and its only use is as a recreational drug. It has no pharmaceutical purpose, although it is cousins to amphetamine which is used to treat conditions like ADD. It can be consumed by snorting as a white powder, injected when the powder is mixed with water, tablets that are swallowed, or by smoking “rocks” or crystals which is where the name crystal meth comes from. Short-Term Effects Depending on the method of consumption, methamphetamine’s effects can be felt right away or up to 20 mins. However, despite its quick onset, it has staying power compared to things like cocaine, and its effects generally last 6-8 hours but can last up to 24 hours. Mentally, users experience high levels of energy, alertness, confidence, and excitement. This huge rush of energy contributes to insomnia and a lack of appetite which can lead to days long benders of little to no sleep or food. Physically, increased blood pressure, body temperature, and heartbeat are all hallmarks of meth use. Users experience extreme dry mouth, headaches, stomach ache, and problems breathing. Long-Term Effects Due to the highly addictive nature of methamphetamine, all the short-term effects/symptoms can cause terrible long-term damage in the majority of users. Brain damage occurs and affects many facets of the person’s life including the loss of memory, hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, paranoia, and suicidal feelings. The physical impact of having such a high temperature, blood pressure, and heartbeat can have irreversible effects on the heart and other organs. Stroke, heart attack, and organ failure are the main causes of death as a result of meth use. The lack of appetite leads to malnutrition and many users end up underweight with brittle bones. “Meth mouth” is a colloquial term because it is such a common affliction of those who use meth. The extended dry mouth allows bacteria to grow and create serious dental problems. The Current State of Meth Use The opioid crisis is dominating the headlines currently, but before that was methamphetamine. The only real positive about the opioid crisis is that we now have medication like methadone and Suboxone in our arsenal to help people come off the drugs. However, there is no medical replacement therapy for amphetamines. Doctors working in clinics in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are at a loss on how to help their patients being devoured by this drug. The aggression, paranoia, and psychosis that is associated with its use make it difficult to treat patients.  (Check out our resource on Vancouver Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment programs). Additionally, meth is one of the cheapest street drugs and has one of the longest highs. While heroin still tops the list of drugs most frequently used at Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection site, meth use has increased 600 times since 2005. It is half the price of heroin and many believe more addictive. Active meth users as well as support workers like those at Insite and physicians, advocate for more community programs to help users break the cycle and become more integrated back into regular life. The first step to ending crystal meth addiction is to safely go through detox, then find a program that works for you to stabilize...

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Addiction Recovery Group Meetings in Canada

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

Addiction Recovery Group Meetings in Canada

There are many kinds of recovery group meetings for alcohol treatment and/or drug rehabilitation throughout Canada you can attend as you work through your recovery. If you are trying to decide which style of meeting will work for you best, this list will help compare the options. This blog will cover four kinds of meetings, some with a religious basis and some secular. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are very similar as they stem from the same 12 step methodology. SMART Recovery stands for “Self-Management and Recovery Training” and is a non-12 step program. LifeRing is another non-12 step program but it has a different emphasis to SMART Recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr Robert Smith. They believed in the disease model of addiction, which states that addicted people have no control over the substance and its addictive powers. An integral part of the disease model is that the disease of addiction is irreversible, and due to this, lifelong abstinence is required to be successful. The 12 step process is also heavily influenced by a belief in a higher power. Therefore, AA meetings are likely to be more helpful for people who already share some of this ideology. Narcotics Anonymous NA is based on the principles of AA, as they apply to those with drug use problems. AA began in the late 1940s and the first NA meetings happened in the early 1950s in California. NA recovery group meetings are open to people who struggle with any kind of drug, whether they be illicit narcotics or prescribed medications. SMART Recovery SMART Recovery uses its “Four-Point Program” to help meeting attendees with their substance use struggles. The four main points taught are: enhance and maintain motivation to abstain; cope with urges; manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviours; and balance momentary and enduring satisfactions. The striking difference between SMART Recovery and 12-step programs like AA and NA is that it is science-based rather than spiritual-based. The meeting organizers do not expect attendees to come indefinitely, as they are taught self-reliance and problem-solving skills. SMART Recovery does not use terms like “addict” as they believe a person has a problem and is not the problem. LifeRing LifeRing is a non-12 step program that promotes abstinence in recovery. Self-described as ‘sober, secular, and self-directed’ this is another good option for those who do not want a faith-based group. Meeting attendees will not only participate in group discussion but also work through a “Recovery By Choice” workbook.  The CDR website is one of the top directories in Canada of drug rehabilitation and alcohol treatment program options, so turn to the website to location options near you. For example, check out our resource on British Columbia Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Programs. Resources: SMART Recovery The Evolution of Addiction Models: How Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Program Thinking in Canada has Evolved Narcotics Anonymous LifeRing JMC – 2018.07.25 The post Addiction Recovery Group Meetings in Canada appeared first on Canada Drug...

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WHO Recognizes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

WHO Recognizes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder

Earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) officially designated addiction to video games as “gaming disorder”. Now it has recognized compulsive sexual behaviour as a mental disorder. However, this announcement comes with some caveats. Sex addiction as a term has been used for years, and we have a specialized page on sex addiction treatment on our website. Many therapists say that they specialize in sex addiction as part of their addiction medicine. However, experts disagree over whether it is even a true condition. The WHO stated that it is a mental illness, although have not classified as an addictive behaviour. WHO expert Geoffrey Reed said, “conservatively speaking, we don’t feel that the evidence is there yet… that the process is equivalent to the process with alcohol or heroin.” The health organization’s update of the International Classification of Disease (ICD) in June said compulsive sexual behaviour disorder (CSBD) is “characterized by persistent failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges… that cause marked distress or impairment” but that it could not be concluded yet that CSBD constitutes the manifestation of a behavioural addiction. Some may think this is an on-the-fence ruling, but this actually helps a lot of people who are looking for clinical help. The ICD is the benchmark for doctors giving diagnoses, and for health insurance companies. Now that there is a classification, people who have CSBD have greater access to services and resources. It is also important to remember that just like alcohol consumption or playing video games, everyone will have a different level of activity that they find normal. What pushes an activity to an addiction level is when doing that activity is negatively impacting someone’s life. Some people may have a high libido, but if their sexual activities are consensual and do not cause negative ramifications in other areas of their life, there is likely no addiction present. If you are questioning the safety or frequency of your sexual encounters take a look at “The 3 Cs of Addiction” and consider giving our specialist a call to find out the options available to you. References: WHO Recognizes ‘Compulsive Sexual Behavior’ as Mental Disorder JMC – 2018.07.25 The post WHO Recognizes Compulsive Sexual Behaviour Disorder appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Health Boards Across Canada Call for Decriminalization: Ignored by Feds

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Health Boards Across Canada Call for Decriminalization: Ignored by Feds

We reported earlier this month that the Toronto Board of Health released a report by the city’s medical officer, Dr. Eileen De Villa, that called for the decriminalization of all illegal recreational drugs. The Board urged Dr. De Villa to forward her report to the health boards in Canada’s 10 largest cities, among other organizations. Now, Montreal’s public health department has come out in support of Dr. De Villa’s report and its recommendations. Mylène Drouin is the director of Montreal’s public health department and has said the matter of decriminalization will be on the agenda for their provincial and national health meetings. Long before decriminalization was the hot topic it is today, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has been calling for drug policy changes. Vancouver has been at the forefront of the drug use epidemic for years and is the home of North America’s first supervised injection site, InSite. Vancouver had 335 opioid-related deaths in 2017, while Toronto had 303, and Montreal 140. It’s not just the mayor, multiple health bodies and officials have petitioned the federal government to address the issue of decriminalization. With three of Canada’s largest and most influential cities’ health boards calling for decriminalization, surely Ottawa is willing to listen. Not so. The spokesperson for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the federal government is not willing to decriminalize or legalize any more drugs after cannabis. Fardous Hosseiny, the national director of research and public policy at the Canadian Mental Health Association applauds the decisions of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal and agrees dark times call for enlightened ideas. Even the Liberal Party itself wants decriminalization on the table, but Trudeau and Taylor flatly refused to consider the resolution passed by their own party during the national convention in April of this year. As other Canadian cities health boards meet and look over Toronto’s recommendations we will report back, and keep you updated as to whether or not the federal government decides to start taking these esteemed scientists and public officials’ educated opinions into account. References: Toronto Recommends Decriminalization Federal Government Won’t Decriminalize Other Drugs Besides Cannabis The post Health Boards Across Canada Call for Decriminalization: Ignored by Feds appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Sober Living vs. Primary Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment in Canada

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

Sober Living vs. Primary Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment in Canada

Feeling good after leaving rehab but worried about re-entering the environment that fostered your addiction? Sober living throughout Canada can be a great option to help bridge the gap from primary treatment to home life. Primary treatment programs usually refer to inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation. These primary treatment programs are very structured and usually intensive. This means most of the day is scheduled so clients are going from small group sessions to recreational activities to one-on-one time with counselors. Sober living is a bridge from this highly structured and supported environment to the real world. It can be very jarring going from rehab back to regular life. Especially if the client’s home environment or daily routine was part of their previous substance user lifestyle. Sober living is a good transition for people leaving primary care. Sober Living Sober living is usually a post-treatment option, but some programs accept people who have not been to treatment before. These programs offer a safe and supportive living environment for those wanting to live a sober life. They often require that the clients attend a certain number of meetings a week, and most require that the clients participate in domestic duties like cooking and cleaning as they are designed to help reintegrate people to regular life. Another aspect of these programs is that they usually ask that clients be employed, or volunteer, or be working towards an education. This is again to demonstrate a willingness to live a productive healthy life. Supportive Recovery Supportive recovery programs are similar to sober living and are often classified in three stages. Stage one is close to primary treatment. While less intensive, they are still quite restrictive where clients must participate in on-site meetings, and cannot leave the facility without permission or being accompanied by a staff member. As clients demonstrate progress they can move to Stage 2. This entails less supervision, more offsite meetings, and clients are encouraged to apply for job and volunteer opportunities. Stage 3 is substantially less restrictive and has much more flexibility in the types and times of meetings to attend. Programs in Canada BC is the best province for sober living programs and has many private and public options. Alberta has only a few options in Calgary and Edmonton. Ontario has a few private options, as well as the government-funded ASH program. If you are looking at drug and alcohol rehab in Canada, ask facilities if they offer any aftercare or sober living options for once you complete the program. Contact our specialist for help finding the right level of support for you. JMC 2018.06.19 The post Sober Living vs. Primary Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment in Canada appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Plan

Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Plan

Nova Scotia announced plans to develop a mental health and addictions strategy in 2010. During 2011 the advisory committee met with more than 1200 Nova Scotians and reviewed best practices and other research to produce a Nova Scotia mental health and addictions action plan. The report Together We Can: The plan to improve mental health and addictions care for Nova Scotians was released in 2012 to serve as a guide for the next five years. This blog will look at this original report, as well as the Progress Update released in 2016. In Together We Can five priority areas were identified, with recommendations on how to move forward. Intervening and Treating Early for Better Results – With a Focus on Children and Youth The Nova Scotia mental health and addictions plan noted that 70% of mental illnesses begin before the age of 25, and early intervention can prevent bigger problems later in life. As such, one of the action points is to screen every child in Nova Scotia at 18 months of age to hopefully pick up any developmental delays to help foster a healthy childhood. Strongest Families, a 12-week phone-based program for children with behavioural problems that has already been implemented in some areas of the province, will be expanded throughout the province. SchoolsPlus is a service offered in 79 schools where children have access to mental health professionals at school. Shorter Waits, Better Care One of the biggest difficulties facing Nova Scotia mental health and addictions is expanding services to reduce wait times. Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA) is supposed to see patients shortly after being referred in order to match them with the treatment they need. However, the action point does not adequately explain how this program will be faster than what is currently in place. There are not enough drug and alcohol rehabs to send people to in Nova Scotia. Peer support for those leaving a mental health or addiction treatment program in hospital and transitioning back to their regular life is suggested. Perhaps sober living housing units in underserved communities would be better suited to aiding a successful transition. There are a few more action points that are good ideas, such as more family support for those caring for people with mental illness or addictions. However, it seems to shift the burden of care from provincial structures to families and does not address wait times. Expanding the current toll-free line for the province so it is 24/7 is a good step forward though, as many in rural areas lack out of hours care. Aboriginal and Diverse Communities Most of the provinces we have looked at so far pay lip service to wanting to expand ‘cultural competencies’ and serve marginalized populations. However, Nova Scotia has some concrete ideas that if successful could truly make the mental health and addictions field more diverse and able to care for all its citizens. The committee suggests creating diversity implementation groups that are made up of the diverse populations themselves (LGBTQ, Francophone, First Nations, African Nova Scotians etc) to create guidelines on how best to deliver mental health and addiction services and programs. Most interestingly and different from the other provinces is that Nova Scotia is actively recruiting and promoting mental health and addiction careers within these diverse communities...

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Toronto Recommends Decriminalization

Posted by on Jul 18, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Toronto Recommends Decriminalization

Toronto’s Board of Health is recommending decriminalization of all illegal recreational drugs following a new report by the city’s medical officer. Dr Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, has taken the last year to work with her team on the best way to tackle Toronto’s growing opioid concerns. The opioid crisis is most prominent in the west of the country, with Vancouver being hardest hit, however, fentanyl and other analogues are now more common in the eastern provinces. There were 303 opioid overdose-related deaths in 2017 in Toronto, a 63% increase from 2016. Nearly 4000 Canadians died last year from opioid overdoses. Dr Eileen De Villa says “drug use has always been with us, humans have always used drugs in one way, shape or form. The potential harms associated with any of these drugs is worsened when people are pushed into a position where they have to produce, obtain, and consume those drugs illegally.” De Villa and her committee have been reviewing scientific literature, conferring with other jurisdictions, and speaking directly with drug users and others for the past year. The main jurisdictions analyzed were Portugal, Switzerland, and Germany. De Villa stated “they are getting reduced drug use rates. They are getting minimized harm associated with drug use and ultimately better community health as a whole.” The results of that report were presented on Monday to the Toronto Board of Health. The recommendations outlined in the report, namely to force the federal government to take a public health rather than a criminal approach to drug use, were unanimously approved by the board. Due to this approval, the federal government has now been issued a letter informing it of the board’s recommendation. The board also asked De Villa to forward her report to Ontario public health boards, the boards of health in Canada’s 10 largest cities, and the Ontario Public Health Association. The Toronto Board of Health is not the first to recommend decriminalization across the spectrum of substances. At the Liberal National Convention held in April in Halifax this year, Liberal party members passed a resolution to address the opioid crisis through a public health approach. As well, the proposition to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs was passed. Despite building public pressure, as well as scientific data in favour, the Liberal elite is still against decriminalization, with both the PM and Health Minister dismissing the possibility. References: Toronto Board of Health to Urge Federal Government to Decriminalize Drug Use Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Wants Feds to Decriminalize All Drugs for Personal Use The post Toronto Recommends Decriminalization appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Nova Scotia Government Funded Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Programs

Posted by on Jul 16, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Nova Scotia Government Funded Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Programs

For this Provincial Snapshot learn how to access Nova Scotia government-funded drug rehab and alcohol treatment programs. Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment Like most of the other provinces we have covered so far, it is best to start with your primary care provider when looking for addiction treatment. Your family doctor can provide you with referrals to both public and private treatment programs. Find your closest outpatient Community Mental Health and Addictions Clinics here. Most of these clinics are located in hospitals or as part of a health unit. These clinics have a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide outpatient services like assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, individual and group therapy, as well as support for families and community organizations. Government Funded Inpatient Treatment Nova Scotia only has approximately 2 government funded inpatient treatment programs.  Unfortunately, these government-funded drug rehabs are usually only 21 days, and this often includes the time it takes to detox. This is not considered nearly long enough to have an impactful change on clients. While there are a few community-based addiction services, the bulk of resources are located in or close to Halifax, creating a disparity in access to services. It is commendable that Nova Scotia has created opioid replacement programs to help wean people off. However, there seems to be more funding going towards medication than counselling and other treatment options. Nova Scotia government-funded drug rehab and alcohol treatment is lacking, especially in regards to inpatient facilities. New facilities with the capabilities to treat people for longer periods of time would help reduce the current lengthy wait times and hopefully help clients be more successful upon leaving treatment. If you are struggling with a substance or process addiction and are looking for drug and alcohol rehab in Nova Scotia, please contact our specialist for more help.   References: Community Mental Health and Addictions Clinic JMC 2018.06.19 The post Nova Scotia Government Funded Drug Rehab & Alcohol Treatment Programs appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Health Canada Urges Caution Despite Drug Testing

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Health Canada Urges Caution Despite Drug Testing

Every summer across Canada thousands of people attend music festivals, and many of them will consume recreational drugs while there. In an effort to curb overdose deaths, Health Canada has released warnings and advice for festival-goers this season. Drug testing has become more common, especially in BC as the province works to reduce its staggering amount of overdose deaths. Health Canada urges people to test their drugs prior to using them, but wants users to exercise caution as no test is perfect.   Drug Testing Strips At the end of 2017 Health Canada recommended fentanyl test strips to help drug users make educated decisions about their drug use. During tests undertaken by the department the strips always detected fentanyl, however could not always detect fentanyl analogues like carfentanyl. In BC, these fentanyl test strips have been available at the supervised-injection site, Insite since 2016 and were made available at more Downtown Eastside locations in 2017. Vancouver Coastal Health Authority said substance users at Insite whose drugs tested positive for fentanyl were 10 times more likely to reduce their dose. The positive benefits of these strips has meant they are now more widely available across the province.   Music Festival Etiquette Health Canada wants revelers to know: Illicit drugs can be tainted with all kinds of dangerous substances, including fentanyl Do not mix drugs and alcohol, and do not leave your drink unattended Never use drugs alone, and check on your friends As well, the government wants people to know what an overdose looks like: Difficulty walking and talking Very small pupils Cold and clammy skin Extreme drowsiness or inability to wake up Choking, gurgling, slow or weak breathing   Opioid Overdoses Fueled By Fentanyl Prescription opioids have recently been blamed in the media for the surge in opioid addiction and overdose. However, opioid related overdoses and deaths are still rising despite declines in prescriptions written and total opioids dispensed by Canadian pharmacies. Illegal fentanyl and carfentanyl continue to be the driving cause of overdose deaths. Last year opioids killed nearly 4000 Canadians, up 1000 from 2016. In 2017, fentanyl was associated with 84% of overdose deaths in BC. If you are attending a music festival this summer and plan to take drugs, check to see if the event has a drug testing station. Many do these days and they could save your life! However, use caution as not all testing methods can test for everything, especially the highly toxic carfentanyl.   References: Canadian Government Offers Tips for Safer Drug Use as We Head Into the Summer Music Festival Season BC Expands Access to Fentanyl Testing, Asking Users to Check Their Drugs Information Update – Drug Use During Festival Season The post Health Canada Urges Caution Despite Drug Testing appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Blog | 0 comments

Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine and Crack Cocaine

This month’s Drug Fact Sheet is looking at cocaine and crack cocaine. Where did this drug originate and why is it still so prevalent? History Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, native to South America. Indigenous people of the area have chewed the leaf for centuries in daily life as well as a part of religious ceremonies. Cocaine was only isolated from the leaf in 1860 by a German chemist, but around the same time, other Europeans were beginning to experiment with its recreational uses. In the latter half of the 19th century, pharmaceutical companies quickly picked up on the anaesthetic properties and marketed the substance to doctors. However, many patients died of accidental overdoses in surgery and so it did not remain in favour. Criminalization The USA introduced legislation to criminalize the sale and use of coca and opium products in 1914. However, cocaine had a huge resurgence in the 1980s, which included the introduction of crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in water and ammonia and boiling this mixture down until it is solid. This is then broken into “rocks” and sold to people to smoke. Smoking crack elicits a strong yet short high, making it even more addictive than cocaine. Crack is also cheaper than cocaine powder, and in 1985 a rock only cost $5 in most US cities. By the late 80s, many cities who saw a rise in crime and deaths related to crack use declared a “crack epidemic”. Physical Effects Short-term effects of cocaine are euphoria, increased energy, and heightened sensitivity to sound and touch. It can also reduce the desire for food and sleep. Cocaine’s effects are felt quickly; within a few minutes if snorting powder and almost instantly if smoking crack. However, its effects are short-lived, usually lasting from a few minutes to half an hour. The physiological effects include dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels as well as increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Cocaine-related deaths are usually the result of cardiac arrest or seizures. The mixing of drugs like cocaine and alcohol or cocaine and heroin increases the chance of overdose and death. Long-term use of cocaine has lasting effects on the brain. Illicit drugs not only affect the pleasure centres of the brain, they also affect the brain pathways that respond to stress. Research has shown that increased stress leads to increased desire for cocaine among regular users. Cocaine also reduces the efficacy of the decision-making area of the brain, the orbitofrontal cortex. Lack of self-insight and inability to recognize and adapt to negative consequences of continued drug use are effects of the cortex’s lowered function. Treatment Almost all drug treatment facilities in Canada will be able to help you or a loved one with cocaine addiction. It is one of the most popular illicit drugs, so drug rehabs will have treated many people before with a similar problem. Please contact our specialist and they will work with you to find the right facility for you.   References: History of Cocaine Cocaine JMC 2018.06.19 The post Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine and Crack Cocaine appeared first on Canada Drug...

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Where Addicts are Treated Like Human Beings