We all deal with our emotions in different ways. One may seek refuge in a friend, while others may withdraw and seek solitude. Some people turn to food as a source of comfort and pleasure. This scenario is not typically ruled by physical hunger, but rather an emotional hunger that is satisfied by specific foods, such as potato chips, ice cream or chocolate. Most comfort foods have something in common; they contain sugar, fat and/or sodium. It may be difficult to control how much we eat during these times, as ‘comfort foods’ elicit a calming feeling and ultimately improve our mood – fueling us to continue eating. We have all engaged in this behaviour on occasion in the past, but at what point does this behaviour become problematic? When one eats to create a feeling, or to manage emotions regardless of hunger levels, this creates an unhealthy relationship with food. Read more
Benzodiazepine Abuse Epidemic
Benzodiazepines are a prescription medication that is commonly prescribed by a physician for individuals with legitimate medical conditions such as:
Inducing amnesia for uncomfortable procedures
Yet, individuals across North America are obtaining these prescription drugs illegally and therefore are abusing these drugs to obtain the side effects that one experiences using them.
There is a serious epidemic occurring in the United States and is quickly spreading into Canada. According to a recent report released in 2013 from the International Narcotics Control Board, Canada is now the second- largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, behind the U.S.
As stated by Health Canada, “In 2012, about 1 million youth, aged 15-24 years, reported having used a psychoactive pharmaceutical in the past year.” As a result of this research, Health Canada is looking for ways to raise awareness among parents and youth about the health risks of marijuana and prescription drug abuse. Read more
The notion of self-care is no longer an exotic or optional practice for healthcare workers. However, the way in which it is effectively incorporated into the life of a nurse working in a mental health setting is not routine by any means. Given my experience as a nurse for over a quarter century in the addiction treatment field, I have reflected on what it means to effectively integrate self-care into practice. In the “caring professions,” burnout is becoming more and more common. This unfortunate outcome may be intensified, given that individuals seeking help for addiction or other healthcare services are presenting with very complex problems. Therefore, self-care becomes imperative to ensure there isn’t a “cost of caring” for those providing the care.
For 15 years I worked at a women’s addiction treatment program and it was there the issue of self-care for staff became apparent. Read more
Food is one of our primary sources of pleasure, and critical to our survival. In a healthy reward pathway of the brain, food is a natural stimulus that produces feelings of pleasure from the release of dopamine. This gratifying feeling makes this activity worthy of repeating, as we want to experience it again. However, not all foods have the same effect on the brains’ reward system. So why do certain foods activate the brains’ reward system more than others? Sugar, salt and fat are three substances that ‘hijack’ the brains’ reward system, by releasing a burst of dopamine, similar to the effects of drugs and alcohol. As more research emerges, we gain knowledge about how a diet of large portions of refined and processed foods affect the way our brain responds to food. Some individuals develop a dependence on these foods to feel happy and satisfied, and eventually develop a tolerance by needing more of these ‘addictive’ foods to experience feelings of pleasure. Read more
The 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Religion
Our clients come from all walks of life and while some people identify with a particular religion, others describe themselves as atheists, agnostics, humanists or freethinkers. One question we are frequently asked by clients relates to the 12-steps aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous. People often wonder: “Do I need to believe in God or religion to benefit from the 12-Step process?’ or “I am not religious, is AA right for me?”.
While it is true that six of the original 12-Steps refer to ‘God’ or a ‘Higher Power, it also true that Alcoholics Anonymous is the most common self-help source for individuals dealing with alcohol addiction in North America.
Although it is an undeniable fact that the original 12-Steps were based on Christian teachings, today, AA has grown into a spiritual program. Spirituality being much broader and more encompassing can be defined as “that which gives people meaning and purpose in life” (Puchalski, Dorff, & Hendi, 2004). Read more