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The Importance of Diet in Addiction Recovery

Posted on :  September 11th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When it comes to a successful recovery, people focus on a variety of things but often ignore the importance of nutrition. Eating a healthy diet is essential while going through a treatment program. It not only helps with drug withdrawal symptoms, it also aids psychological recovery and sets up healthy habits for life.

Why diet matters in addiction recovery

You’ve heard the old saying “you are what you eat.” That matters more than ever while undergoing rehab. Being clean and sober also relies upon eating clean, healthy foods. Doing so addresses nutritional deficiencies, eases withdrawal symptoms, supports mental recovery and promotes lifestyle changes.

Addicts are notorious for having poor diets. They often rely on their substance of choice instead of food for sustenance.

Being trapped in a cycle of addiction also leads to vitamin, mineral and other nutritional deficiencies. Drugs and alcohol can interfere with the body’s absorption of nutrients. Alcoholics, for example suffer from calcium deficiencies, which can lead to osteoporosis, muscle spasms and even memory loss. A healthy diet in recovery is essential to help replace such deficiencies and losses.

Aiding withdrawal and recovery

In addition to addressing nutritional deficiencies, a healthy diet also combats withdrawal symptoms. Foods rich in B vitamins, for instance, can help ease the stress and nervous tension associated with detoxing from opioids. Calcium and magnesium rich foods aid muscle twitches and cramps, while vitamin E helps repair skin damage from drug injection sites.

Drug and alcohol cravings also lessen when the body is given nutritional support. Healthy foods help sustain energy levels, leaving the body less likely to seek drugs in order to function.

A proper diet also facilitates recovery by strengthening the mind. Eating healthy reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as mood swings. Regular nutritious meals keep blood sugar levels stable, which helps with those psychological ups and downs. A successful recovery requires a good deal of mental strength, and a good diet can support that.

There is no underestimating the healing power of good nutrition. As Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician said, “Let food by thy medicine and medicine by thy food.”

Supporting a lifetime of healthy habits

Adopting a wholesome diet is a lifestyle change that supports other healthy habits, often for life.

Opting for nutritious foods leads to a sense of control that can impact other areas of a person’s existence. Making healthy food choices gives one a sense of pride that boosts self-esteem. Eventually, this feeling takes hold and influences other life choices. It can lead to many positive new developments such as starting an exercise program, taking classes, or seeking a better job.

A healthy diet, as part of an addiction recovery program, can empower an individual to make that all-important shift from addiction to achievement.

Diet dos and don’ts in recovery

Here are some dos and don’ts when trying to follow a healthy diet during recovery:

  • Do eat organic foods as much as possible.
  • Do drink plenty of filtered water.
  • Do eat complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, whole-grain breads, beans and starchy vegetables.
  • Do eat lycopene-rich foods, like tomatoes, to help mop up toxic drug residue in the body.
  • Do eat foods containing good fats like avocados, salmon and walnuts.
  • Do indulge in dark chocolate now and then. It’s rich in minerals and boosts mood.
  • Don’t eat junk food or processed food. An occasional treat is fine.
  • Don’t drink beverages with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.
  • Don’t eat too many sugars or simple, refined carbohydrates like cakes, cookies and white bread. Avoid them as much as possible.
  • Don’t eat foods with trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils if possible.
  • Don’t expect to make dietary changes overnight. It’s a journey.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, contact Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.


Some Important Lessons from Robin Williams’ Death

Posted on :  September 8th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

The recent news of Robin Williams’ tragic death serves as a reminder for all of us dealing with addiction and depression. Although his widow, Susan Schneider, said the comedic actor’s sobriety was intact, his battle with drug and alcohol abuse was a never-ending struggle. Some important lessons we can learn is that an addict is always in recovery, and mental illness, such as depression, often goes hand-in-hand with addiction.

What is meant by “always in recovery?”

As so many recovered addicts will tell you, “recovery is a journey, not a destination.” There is no exact “finish line” to cross where one is declared officially recovered. The potential for substance abuse is constantly there, so in effect, one is “always in recovery.”

Although an addict may not have used drugs or alcohol for quite some time (even years), there is always the possibility of a relapse. Robin Williams himself was sober for 20 years until he relapsed in 2006.

While some people overcome addiction without experiencing a relapse, the triggers and temptations to start up again always exist. In many instances, a small, apparently harmless incident can cause a person to start using again. For Robin Williams, it began with a simple trip to the store while shooting a movie. His eyes fell on a tiny bottle of whiskey when that little voice went off in his head. Seemingly okay after drinking the first one, things eventually escalated, landing him back in rehab in 2006.

This incident just goes to show that “always in recovery” is a very real phenomenon. Williams proved it again when he visited the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center in Minnesotain July of this year.

Mental illness and addiction

Rarely is addiction an isolated issue. Drug and alcohol abuse often coexists with mental illness. Substance abusers often experience depression, anxiety or other psychological disorders. Meanwhile, many mentally ill people have ongoing drug and alcohol problems. Mental illness and addiction are closely related.

A person suffering from depression or anxiety may choose to “self-medicate” by drinking or taking drugs in order to feel better. Eventually, this can lead to dependency and addiction. By the same token, someone without mental illness may find that these addictive substances cause behavioural changes, which may turn into psychological issues.

The connection between mental illness and addiction is complex, sometimes resembling the “chicken or the egg” question. Whether underlying conditions like depression or anxiety lead to substance abuse or whether drugs and alcohol promote mental issues is hard to discern. However, what is most important to understand that a relationship exists — and to get treatment for both.

In recent months, Robin Williams was battling depression, which led him to reenter that 12-step program at Hazelden. Whether his ongoing depression or the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease was a trigger for substance abuse, no one can say for sure, but it seems likely they were related.

What Else Can We Learn from Robin Williams?

Robin Williams’ suicide also serves as a reminder that substance abuse, along with preexisting condition like depression, can be a deadly combination.

Drug and alcohol abuse is a very real factor in suicide. While under the influence, a person’s judgment is severely impaired, which can lead to rash actions and impulsive behaviours — including taking one’s life.

If you suspect someone is suffering from depression and/or substance abuse and is threatening suicide, it is crucial that you seek immediate assistance. Calling a suicide prevention hotline is the best option for help.

Robin Williams’ passing was a huge loss for his fans. It is sad to think that a man who made so many people laugh struggled with so much sadness and addiction. Hopefully, we can all learn that those who are struggling with substance abuse and mental conditions deserve our love and support.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, contact Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.


Resentment: A Danger to Recovery

Posted on :  September 4th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Harboring resentment is a danger to the addiction recovery process. It is even mentioned in “the big book,” Alcoholics Anonymous. “Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” (64). Not only does it impact alcoholics; it poses a danger for anyone undergoing a substance abuse treatment program.

Why is it a danger?

Resentment is a dangerous emotion to experience during recovery because it can thwart your efforts and possibly lead to relapse. Here are some of the damaging ways resentment can hold a person back from a successful recovery:

It serves as a relapse trigger. Perhaps the most harmful aspect of resentment is its potential to cause a relapse during recovery. This negative emotion is unpleasant, to say the least, and it can be an excuse to go back to drugs or alcohol. Using substances helps to suppress those ugly and painful feelings. At that point, it’s easy to slip back into old patterns of addiction.

It causes a loss of focus. Resentment is very sneaky because it draws attention away from personal issues and behaviours. You become so focused on wrongs committed by the transgressor that you lose sight of personal responsibility. It also leads to the development of a victim mentality. The reality is only you can fix yourself. Blaming someone else won’t advance your recovery efforts.

It keeps you stuck in the past. This emotion keeps you focused on the past. Whether the hurts and wrongs were intentional or not, they remain in the past and can’t be undone. Resentment prevents you from healing and moving forward in recovery. It’s almost like driving while looking in the rearview mirror and expecting to arrive easily at your destination.

It prevents relationship building. If you hold much resentment, it becomes difficult to establish and maintain connections with people. One of the most rewarding aspects of recovery is fostering new relationships and reestablishing old ones. Resentment prevents this from happening and keeps you emotionally isolated.

It delays progress. Not only does resentment delay progress in recovery, it hinders progress in life. Harboring resentment is similar to lugging a heavy weight around all the time. It slows you down and holds you back.

So what is resentment exactly?

Resentment is a negative emotion that occurs when someone feels wronged or harmed in some way. It is often a lethal mixture of anger, contempt, bitterness and hatred.

Feelings of resentment may occur in response to actual events and situations, or they may simply be imagined. Many people often feel ill will for perceived slights that others would consider totally irrational.

Regardless of the cause, letting these feelings of anger and hatred fester does more damage to a person feeling the resentment than to the transgressor. Actress Carrie Fisher said it best in this quote, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” For someone in recovery, that emotional poison can lead right back to drinking or drug use.

How to deal with resentment

Just like dealing with addiction, dealing with resentment takes time and patience. It is a process. Individuals struggling with this emotion also need to remember that resentment (and other negative emotions) shouldn’t be eliminated, but acknowledged and managed.

Some tips for dealing with resentment include:

Counselling. Most people in recovery are going through counselling or a 12-step program already. If not, it’s wise to seek professional help. It’s also crucial to bring up resentment issues as they arise.

Focusing on positive emotions. Feelings of resentment will lessen when focus is given to building and maintaining positive emotions.

Journaling. Writing out feelings can be helpful in order to understand them and come to terms with resentment issues.

Meditation. Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, helps individuals become more objectively aware of thoughts and feelings, making it easier to deal with resentment.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.


Dealing With Addiction during Pregnancy

Posted on :  September 2nd, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Both addiction and pregnancy are challenging on their own, but when combined, they present a unique set of problems that need to be addressed. The best way to deal with addiction during pregnancy is to undergo a comprehensive, multidisciplinary treatment program.

Treatment of multiple issues

A comprehensive treatment approach deals with multiple issues. Obviously the mother’s addiction is a focus, but so is psychological support, as well as medical and prenatal care.

One of the first issues to tackle is substance abuse. This step involves weaning the woman off the addictive substance or giving her medication that acts as a substitute. In the case of opioids such as heroin or oxycodone, a client is often given methadone, which is steadily reduced during the withdrawal process. A health care professional will help determine the best course of treatment.

However, overall treatment goes beyond eliminating substance abuse. Psychological support through counselling is essential. Pregnant substance abusers suffer from a wide variety of mental and emotional issues. Pregnancy fears, anger, guilt and shame, are just a few common problems, not to mention the stigma of drug abuse among pregnant women.

Comprehensive treatment also takes into account medical and prenatal care. That means ensuring adequate nutrition, testing for HIV and other diseases, and monitoring fetal development.

According to a 2013 report issued by Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, multidisciplinary programs that address a variety of issues among pregnant substance abusers have many positive results. Noteworthy ones include a reduction in illegal drug use, greater retention in treatment programs, and improved infant mortality rates.

How addiction impacts pregnancy

Dealing with addiction early on in pregnancy can help reduce the effects of substance abuse and ensure a better start for both mother and child.

Addiction impacts pregnancy in a number of ways. It can cause miscarriage, premature birth, physical deformities, fetal developmental issues, as well as addicted infants at birth.

The toxic effects of drugs can affect the development of the placenta so that it does not adequately support the fetus, which can result in miscarriage, premature labour or other problems.

When a mother ingests drugs or alcohol, these harmful substances pass through the umbilical cord and placenta, eventually ending up in the baby’s bloodstream. Continued substance abuse does considerable damage to fetal development. Fetal alcohol syndrome, for example, causes facial deformities, damage to the baby’s central nervous system, as well as delayed physical and mental growth.

Sadly, a mother’s addiction can result in giving birth to an infant with the same addiction. This phenomenon is often referred to as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), where the baby develops an addiction in-utero only to suffer through drug withdrawal at birth.

Why moms avoid seeking help

With all the benefits to be gained from addressing addiction, why do many expectant mothers avoid seeking help?

Pregnant substance abusers have the same reservations as any addict when it comes to seeking professional help. Excuses include denial, excessive financial cost, and lack of time to invest in therapy. Psychological issues such as shame and hopelessness are also involved in avoiding treatment.

In addition to these common reasons, pregnant women are also burdened with some unique troubles. Not only do they encounter the social stigma of addiction, being pregnant compounds it. Ignorant and judgmental people often view such women as uncaring monsters. This makes it all the more difficult for them deal with addiction by seeking appropriate care.

Many women are also worried about the consequences of admitting their substance abuse. Some fear that their child may be taken away from them or that they will be prosecuted, particularly if they live in certain areas of the United States, where health care providers are required to report drug use to authorities.

Understandably, dealing with addiction during pregnancy is not easy, but taking that first step can lead to a better life for both mother and child.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.


Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

Posted on :  August 7th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Of all the health phenomena in the world, drug addiction is perhaps one of the most widely misunderstood.

Many view those suffering with drug addiction as lacking in willpower, irresponsible or actively self-destructive, and as a result, maintain a view that addicts are wholly responsible for their own actions and deserve little sympathy for an entirely self-imposed predicament.

While this viewpoint is obviously unhelpful when it comes to encouraging recovery, it is also an utterly mistaken belief, as drug addiction is entirely self-perpetuating. This means that some people may be more vulnerable to its lure than others, and once hooked, the addiction itself generates further dependencies. As a result, in many ways, the addiction takes control of the addict, and not the other way around.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is best thought of as a disease.

It affects the brain and prompts uncontrollable and compulsive behaviors that encourage the subject to seek out substances irrespective of the potential negative consequences.

Because it is considered a disease of the brain, its treatment follows accordingly, and focuses on readdressing and transforming the direction of control between the addict and their addiction. This takes time, and impeccable commitment on the part of the addict, but with help, sympathy and patience, it is very possible to resolve.

How does drug abuse change your brain?

We’ve already learnt that drug addiction is a disease of the brain, but what exactly goes on?

Drug abuse changes the brain in two separate, but interconnected ways. Firstly, it imitates the brain’s natural chemicals, and interferes with the brain’s reward system by triggering rewarding sensations of pleasure in exchange for the drug use itself. Secondly, this reward system interference leads to overstimulation, which results in the need for increasing quantities of the drug in order to trigger a response that, earlier in the cycle, could have been triggered with less.

Are some people predisposed to suffer from drug addiction?

While the causes of addiction can vary largely from one person to another, and indeed, the likelihood of predisposition is not widely agreed on, there are around two discrete factors that can influence an individual’s tendency to addiction. They are as follows:

  • Biological: A person’s inherent genes can play a substantial part in determining their likelihood of future drug addiction. You may have heard people say “I have an addictive personality.” Well, some people do.
  • Environmental: Factors including upbringing, socioeconomic standing, peer influences and financial predicament can all contribute to the likelihood of drug abuse.

If you’d like to learn more about understanding drug abuse and addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Don’t hesitate to call us! We’ll be happy to help you.


The Psychological Impact in Drug Addiction

Posted on :  August 4th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

In all aspects of life, thorough understanding of any problem is more likely to facilitate a successful resolution than wandering through blindly with little real handle on the nature of the problem.

The biological factors involved in drug addiction are complex and powerful, but perhaps less discussed are their psychological siblings. Psychological factors play a significant role in drug addiction, both before, during and after it has taken hold of the individual.

Understanding these factors can prevent drug use and addiction, but it can also provide substantial insight to anyone seeing drug addiction from the outside, struggling to understand the motivations behind what appears to be irrational behavior and compulsion.

Common psychological influences

There are numerous delicate factors at work where drug addiction is concerned, but some circumstances can place predispositions onto potential users more than others. Furthermore, additional environmental factors can actively prevent recovery, let alone the desire to seek help.

Some of these environmental factors can include:

  • Peer pressure
  • Isolation
  • Societal judgement
  • External influence i.e. a new, destructive social group
  • Hardship
  • Many more

These environmental factors tend to transform the psychology of an addict, whether potential or actual, encouraging some familiar patterns of thinking and fears, among them are:

  • A desire to belong
  • Experimental curiosity
  • Thrill-seeking behavior
  • Feeling alone
  • A desire for peer approval
  • Many more

Prevention is better than cure

Of course, because everyone is different, the psychology of a drug addict can be deeply entangled with the particular personality characteristics of the individual. As a result, the root causes of addiction, and indeed its perpetuation are likely to vary from one person to the next.

The best means of understanding the psychology of any particular addict, then, is based around observation with the intent to prevent rather than cure. Here are some things to bear in mind:

  • Young people can be especially vulnerable to external pressure. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to remain keenly aware of any young people in your life who may be subject to these kinds of influences. Young people are very responsive to treatment, so it’s important to observe any drastic changes that strike you as unusual and use them as a springboard to seek help, should that be necessary.
  • Be aware that there are no exceptions to the power of drug addiction. It may be unpleasant to consider that a loved one could be susceptible, but in reality, everyone is susceptible. The sooner you realise this, the more likely you are to approach such matters with empathy and understanding.
  • Do not approach a situation if you feel angry. It’s natural to feel betrayed, but unleashing undirected anger at an addict will only serve to isolate them from you, and make matters worse.
  • Professional help is available across a multitude of platforms, and is often the best way to treat drug addiction. Be sure to thoroughly research your options and find one that best suits you/your loved ones.

If you’d like to learn more about the psychology of drug addiction, and you live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Don’t hesitate to call us! We’ll be happy to help you.


The Behaviour of a Drug Addict

Posted on :  August 1st, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

It’s only natural to want the best for your loved ones, and part and parcel of this desire involves monitoring their behavior for change.

While change is natural and often necessary in any person’s development, sudden change should often be taken as a cue for concern. Perhaps it means nothing at all, or perhaps it should function as a signal that you need to pay attention to future behavior and look for further clues that could point to a cause.

Many drug addicts find themselves feeling very isolated, so if you’re in a position to help, you really should, but before you go in and attempt to stage an intervention, it’s important that you observe their behavior and make sure that you’re sure.

Tell-tale signs

Every individual is different, and as a result, every addict has the potential to behave differently. Consequently, loved ones are often in the best position to judge changes in another’s’ behavior, as they know what is typical and what is not of someone they care about.

However, there are a few commonly-observed patterns of behavior that could point to drug addiction.

While drug addiction affects all aspects of a person’s physiological function, these changes cannot be readily observed by an outsider, so it’s worth looking for emotional cues, among them are:

  • Prone to violence, aggression or irritation
  • Uncharacteristic calmness, energy or talking levels
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Secretive behavior, including dishonesty, theft etc.
  • A new social group
  • Insomnia
  • Quick weight loss or gain
  • Irresponsible financial management
  • Paranoia

What to do if you think a loved one has a problem

Firstly, you want to be sure, and use your own judgement of that person’s typical character. No number of observed signs can guarantee addiction, and instead can point to all manner of wide-ranging personal problems.

However, if you are certain that someone you care about is suffering with drug addiction, you need to tread carefully. Firstly, do not attempt to confront them about it if you feel angry. It is natural to feel a whole host of emotions, but approaching an already-isolated person with anger will only serve to isolate them, and you, further.

Begin by learning about the root causes of drug addiction. Understanding how it works will give you greater insight into the behavior of your loved one.

After that it is important that you seek help as part of a collaborative exercise. Let the addict know that they are not alone, and you are there every step of the way.

If you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one. Don’t hesitate to call us! We’ll be happy to help you.


Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction – Part 2

Posted on :  July 31st, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When you consider the sheer breadth of function that the brain controls, you may begin to comprehend the severity of anything that has the power to change it in any fundamental way.

Furthermore, this should give you some idea of the sheer power and seriousness of drug addiction, which works as a disease of the brain, altering its communication and processes and causing compulsive behavior for which addiction is famous.

How do drugs change the brain?

The brain is an organ which controls functions by communicating with itself. Different parts control different functions and the brain uses chemicals to send messages that coordinate behavior.

Drugs interfere with these processes by imitating these natural messengers and triggering responses accordingly. As a result, responses that shouldn’t be triggered are, as the drugs succeed in fooling the brain’s receptors by masquerading as natural messengers.

Some drugs also work by triggering the release of excessive quantities of neurotransmitters, which can complicate the brain’s communications with itself.

The importance of reward

Drug addicts often describe their experience with drug use as an attempt to chase pleasure. This is because most, if not all, drugs aim to directly target the brain’s reward center. When the center is triggered, it results in the release of dopamine, and other chemicals, which in turn result in the distinct feeling of pleasure.

Drugs over stimulate the reward center and reward the user with feelings of intense pleasure or euphoria.

Since we have adapted to seek reward-giving behaviors, this overstimulation conditions the addict to continue seeking the drug in pursuit of reward. Eventually, this pursuit becomes compulsive and it is at this point that a person can be considered an addict.

How does the brain adapt?

Of course, if this were the end of addiction, treatment would be, although still challenging, relatively simple.

Because we are adaptive creatures, however, the brain has developed ways of dealing with imbalances so, as a drug user continues to abuse drugs, the brain will deal with the influx of dopamine by adjusting the number of dopamine receptors available to the user.

As a result, the quantity of drugs used to incite a specific pleasurable response will have to increase relative to the reduction in dopamine receptors. In the simplest terms, this means the addict will develop a tolerance, and have to use more of a particular drug in order to trigger a response that would have been triggered by a smaller quantity earlier on.

If you’d like to learn more about the science of drug addiction, and you live in the Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Don’t hesitate to call us! We’ll be happy to help you.


Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction – Part 1

Posted on :  July 31st, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

For anyone experiencing drug addiction, whether first hand or in relation to a loved one, learning about its causes, effects and treatment can prove therapeutic and offer insight that can aid the recovery process and debunk a few myths about it. With that in mind, here’s a little fact sheet to run you through the basic ins and outs of drug addiction.

Is it a disease?

You’ll often hear people involved in treating drug addicts referring to it as a ‘disease.’ While this may seem odd, in actual fact, drug addiction bears so many resemblances to other physical and debilitating diseases that talking about it in this way is only natural. Drug addiction has the power to completely transform the structure and function of the brain and how it communicates with other parts of itself, so as a result, addiction is often considered a disease of the brain.

Some people object to this claim with the argument that initial abuse is voluntary, and while this often is the case (though sometimes it is not) drug addiction reverses the direction of control, placing it well within the grasp of the addiction, and not of the addict. It does so by interfering with the brain’s natural chemical messengers and triggering the brain’s reward system. After time, the brain’s reward system develops a kind of overstimulation-triggered tolerance, which means that the addict needs proportionally more exposure to a substance in order to generate the same responses as smaller amounts had previously generated. Furthermore, much like in the case of other diseases, an individual can be born with a biological predisposition to addiction, so addiction does not translate to a lack of willpower.

What happens if an addict continues to use?

We’ve already highlighted the ways in which drugs interfere with the brain, but how does this change over time?

  • The brain adjusts: As already mentioned, tolerance is a direct result of drug use. This is because the brain is able to recognize abnormal dopamine release and will reduce the availability of dopamine receptors accordingly.
  • Cognitive function impairment: Drug abuse affects other areas of the brain too, and these changes can in turn affect an addict’s ability to make judgments and learn.
  • Conditioning: Addicts can find themselves subject to non-conscious memory systems, whereby seemingly unconnected environmental cues can trigger uncontrollable cravings for a drug, leaving the addict powerless to the addiction.

Continue to Part 2 If you’d like to learn more about your options, contact Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589.


Removing the Stigma from Addiction Treatment

Posted on :  July 11th, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

Drug addiction is both a disease of the mind and body, and while its effects on health, both long and short term, are well documented, its impact on the individual’s mental states are less widely available.

Many addicts find themselves struggling with severe self-esteem problems, as there is so much stigma attached to addiction.

Furthermore, many addicts do not believe themselves worthy of recovery, or feel that seeking treatment for their addiction may be conceding that they are worthless, and without value.

As a result, it’s vitally important that people make efforts to make over popular conceptions about addiction and the treatment thereof.

“Seeking recovery is a brave, noble and worthy-of-reward action and should be treated as such.”

Why should we remove the stigma from addiction treatment?

Many non-addicts may have a slightly dismissive attitude to addicts, whether recovering or not.

Unfortunately, these people do not realize how counter-productive this attitude can be. Regardless of your personal views on addiction and the individuals who find themselves its victims, removing addiction from society where possible will positively impact everyone.

The trick is to be forward-looking rather than retributive. Among the benefits are:

  • Less criminal activity and disorderly behavior
  • Less money spent on policing criminal activity and disorderly behavior that results from drug addiction
  • Less money spent on health treatment and incarceration
  • Fewer deaths and interpersonal conflicts
  • An overall more functional and happy society

Understanding drug addiction

Part of removing the stigma from addiction treatment involves understanding what addiction is and what it most definitely is not.

Many addicts began their journey with prescription medications, and as such, find themselves on a slippery slope that can lead them down more dangerous and more illegal paths.

Furthermore, while choosing to use something for the first time does represent a choice, once full-blown addiction has taken control of the individual, said individual is often powerless to stop it alone.

“Think of addiction as a serious physical illness, and your understanding will be more accurate.“

In short, addiction does not represent a weakness on the part of the addict. It does not signify a weak will, or an inherently selfish character.

It can strike at any time, and affects all facets of society, from the rich, to the poor, from the old to the young and everyone else in between.

It also need not begin as a reckless desire to engage in experimentation. For many, it begins with pain relief for some kind of injury.

Either way, if you or anyone you know wishes to seek help for addiction, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey.

Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Towards Recovery Clinics Inc. (TRC) is an Ontario addiction treatment centre with the philosophy to help individuals take control of their addiction and help them rebuild their lives and careers.

Don’t hesitate to call us! We’ll be happy to help you.




Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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