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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.




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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