Opioid Addiction

Opioid Addiction

The Opioid Crisis in Canada

Canada is facing a national opioid crisis. According to the Government of Canada, the growing number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioid drugs like fentanyl is now considered a public health emergency. The numbers* in Canada show that:

  • The national opioid crisis continues to grow.
  • 94% of opioid overdose deaths happen by accident.
  • Young Canadians aged 15 to 24 are the fastest-growing population requiring hospital care from opioid overdoses.

The September 2019 National Report sadly shows that the current crisis is not going anywhere. Approximately 12,800 lives have been lost since 2016, at an average of one person every two hours in 2018. Many, many other people are hospitalized each year because of opioid overdoses.

Opioid addiction is powerful and dangerous, but real recovery is possible. As an accredited national leader in treating alcohol, drug, and food addictions for nearly 50 years, Renascent offers specialized intensive inpatient and outpatient programs for opioid addiction. We’ve helped almost 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the difference between prescription and illegal opioid drugs, the risk of opioid addiction, the signs and symptoms of problem use, opioid addiction treatment options in Canada, and how you can achieve lifelong healing and recovery from addiction to these powerful drugs.

Your journey to recovery from opioid addiction starts here.

*Source: Canada’s Opioid Crisis fact sheet

What are Opioid Drugs?

Opioid drugs, or opiates, are medications that relieve pain. When prescribed by a doctor and used properly, opioids can help people. But misuse and overuse of these powerful drugs can cause addiction, overdose, and death.

Some opioids like morphine and codeine are found naturally in opium poppies, while others are semi-synthetic (e.g., hydromorphone or hydrocodone), which means they are made by changing the chemical structure of a naturally occurring opioid. Synthetic opioids include methadone and meperidine, and are made entirely from chemicals in a lab without any naturally occurring opioid ingredients.

Opioids can be prescribed and used as tablets, capsules, syrups, solutions, or suppositories. Some people also inject opioids with needles or inhale opioids as a spray.

Types of medical opioid drugs that can be prescribed by a doctor for pain, or to sometimes treat coughs and diarrhea, but that can also be additive include:

Illegal opioid drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, are made in illegal labs or stolen and sold illegally on the street. Using opioids without a prescription from a doctor, or by getting a prescription for an opioid from more than one doctor, is also illegal.

Carfentanil — A Hidden and Dangerous Opiate

One of the most dangerous opioids right now is carfentanil, a synthetic drug very similar to fentanyl.

Carfentanil is an opioid that is used by veterinarians for very large animals like elephants. It is NOT made for human use. It is approximately 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and 10,000 times more toxic than morphine. This means carfentanil can be deadly even in extremely small amounts.

Carfentanil is being found in other illegal drugs like heroin and counterfeit pills and being made to look like prescription opioids. There is no easy way to know if carfentanil is in your drugs: you can’t see it, smell it, or taste it.

Its side effects are more dangerous than with other opiates: users are experiencing serious overdoses, and even brain death that requires them to live out the rest of their lives in nursing homes. Carfentanil is also currently the leading cause of opiate-related death.

Naloxone has been used to reverse carfentanil overdoses; however, greater than normal doses are required to revive those who have overdosed. If you are using illegal opioids, be aware of how to spot an overdose and how to help someone who is overdosing.

The Effects of Opioids on Your Body

Because opioids are a group of drugs that have morphine-like effects, they produce euphoria, or a mellow, relaxed “high”. At low doses as prescribed by a doctor, they can suppress the sensation of pain in your body and your emotional response to pain. But this is also what makes opioids highly addictive and dangerous.

Misusing and overusing opiate drugs can change your brain and body in ways that can make it hard to stop using. As your body gets used to a regular supply of the drug, you can experience withdrawal when you stop using them, or when you use less.

Also, when people take too much of an opioid, it slows down their breathing, often leading to unconsciousness and even death from overdose.

Opioid Side Effects

In their fact sheets on the opioid crisis, the Government of Canada outlines the many short- and long-term effects of taking both prescribed and illegal opioids.

In the short-term, using opioids can cause:

  • Drowsiness, headaches, dizziness, and confusion
  • Constipation
  • Impotence in men
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed or difficulty breathing

With long-term use, opioids can cause:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Liver damage
  • Infertility in women
  • Worsening pain or “opioid-induced hyperalgesia”
  • Life-threatening withdrawal symptoms in babies born to mothers taking opioids

Physical dependence, addiction, overdose, and death are also linked to using both prescribed and illegal opioids.

If you need help or someone to talk to about a possible addiction to an opioid drug, call Renascent for help. We can help you, your family, or friends deal with opioid dependence and addiction.

The Problem with Prescription Opiates

The opioid crisis in Canada means more and more people every year are misusing opioids, overdosing, and in far too many cases, dying from overdose. This includes people from every age group – from teens to older adults – and in every socioeconomic group. Canadians young and old, poor and rich, are being exposed to opioids and suffering from the effects of these powerful, dangerous drugs.

To combat this growing problem, the government has made problem opioid use illegal. This means that using opioids without a prescription from a doctor, or by getting a prescription for an opioid from more than one doctor, is illegal, just like selling or buying opioids on the street. Giving your prescription opioids to someone else, even for free, is also illegal.

It also means that healthcare professionals like doctors, dentists, and pharmacists are much more careful about prescribing opioid medicines to treat pain. You should feel comfortable talking to your doctor or dentist before taking any opioid medicine prescribed to you so that you understand the risks. And you can ask about other pain management options you might be able to use instead.

Spotlight on Tramadol, the “safe” opioid

Tramadol is a type of opiate prescribed by doctors to help their patients relieve moderate to moderately severe pain. It works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain.

The problem with Tramadol and other slow-release or long-acting analgesic (pain-relieving) opioids is that they are commonly touted as being a safer alternative to prescription narcotics. But, Tramadol is a narcotic opiate, and one that can be addictive with prolonged use.

If you’ve been prescribed Tramadol, don’t take any more of it, or more often, than you have been prescribed. If you think you might have a problem using Tramadol, talk to your doctor or call Renascent for a free consultation.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

It can be hard to admit you have a problem with drug use, especially one that has been prescribed to you by a doctor. It can be even harder to ask for help.

But recognizing the signs that your drug use is causing problems in your life at work or at home is the essential first step to accepting help and your successful recovery. This is why honesty is the first principle of every 12-step recovery plan.

You can begin by asking yourself if you are:

  • Craving opioid drugs.
  • Using opioids even when you experience harmful effects.
  • Feeling like getting and using opioids has become the focus of your thoughts and daily life.
  • Having withdrawal symptoms such as:
    • Chills or sweating;
    • Diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain;
    • Trouble sleeping;
    • Body aches;
    • Nervousness, irritability, and agitation.

These are all possible signs and symptoms of a drug addiction to opioids. At Renascent, we understand addiction and we can help.

And if you or someone you know is using opioids, there are also signs and symptoms of overdose you need to know about to stay safe.

Have you witnessed an overdose? Canada’s Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act can legally protect you when seeking emergency help in an overdose situation.

Am I an Addict?

Yes, you might be addicted to opioids, but it’s important to not let this label stop you from getting help to quit. Addicts are always people first, just like anyone else. And you can get the treatment you need to recover fully from your addiction.

It might help you to keep in mind that addiction is considered a chronic disorder by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5), a handbook used widely by doctors to guide diagnosis of mental disorders and addictions.

This means that if you’re experiencing problems as a result of opioid use, it doesn’t make you a bad person, or any other label out there – it means you have a psychiatric brain disorder or disease that can be treated like any other health condition. And in Ontario, addiction is recognized as a disability in the Human Rights Code, so you are protected against discrimination based on your addiction from anyone you need to tell at work or elsewhere in your life.

People with addictions can and do experience recovery that lasts a lifetime. At Renascent, all our counsellors have lived experiences of addiction and long-term recovery, so you’ll have the understanding and support you need to ask for help, and at every step of your diagnosis, intake, and treatment.

Opioid Addiction Treatment – How to Quit Opioids

Quitting opioids and finding lifelong freedom from these powerful drugs is hard work, but recovery is possible.

An accredited, personalized, and abstinence-based treatment is recommended for most opioid addictions. At Renascent, we have found in our 50 years of experience, that this model means that even those with the most serious of drug addictions can find renewed health and healing, and a truly transformative experience.

For example, our comprehensive, Toronto-region, opioid addiction treatment programs take place in safe, serene, and caring environments inside beautifully restored heritage homes. Our abstinence-based model integrates 12-step facilitation with other best practices in clinical and medical approaches, which are proven to make a difference in long-term sobriety. Included in every treatment stay at Renascent:

  • Education on your addiction and its physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy to understand and change your addiction behaviour patterns
  • 12-step facilitation
  • Personalized one-on-one and solution-focused therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Exercise, sleep, and healthy eating

Also, many people with an addiction to opioids will benefit from an inpatient treatment program. These types of intensive, residential treatment programs are like a kick-start to your recovery. A quality program in a home-like residence that is grounded in evidence and a client- and family-centred approach will be like a reset button for your healing and success.

Inpatient programs also have around-the-clock counselling and support, and education in practical recovery and life skills that will make long-term recovery more successful. Plus, a good inpatient treatment program gives you the time and tools you need to get to the underlying issues of your addiction and empower you to manage your addiction.

How to choose your addiction treatment program

It can be hard to decide what type of treatment program you need. There are a lot of options out there, and each person has different needs and resources for addiction treatment.

Our treatment option chart outlines some of the choices you have at Renascent, or through other healthcare providers. Don’t see what you need? Contact us anytime for a confidential assessment where we can match you with the support you’re looking for.

If You Are:We Might Suggest:
Looking for one-on-one supportA one-on-one counselling session with one of our addiction experts
Seeking a community who understandsInpatient treatment with group counselling, or AA/NA/CA/OA meetings
Struggling with relapse42-days of Inpatient Treatment, followed by active participation in our Continuing Care program.
In recovery, but looking to connect with informal supportGetting involved with Renascent’s Alumni Care community. There are regular meetings, engaged committees, and events for everyone. We’re here for life!
Concerned how addiction in your family might be impacting your childrenSafe programs geared for kids and parents/caregivers, such as Children’s Healthy Coping Skills
Worried about your family member or loved one, including siblings, close friends, and partnersOur Essential Family Care Programs, particularly the Introduction to Family Care
A parent in active recoveryA weekend course like Parenting in Recovery, to help you boost your parenting skills
Concerned addiction is affecting your work or workplaceOur Corporate Complete Care Advantage, designed to support employees and employers as they navigate addiction and recovery in the workplace.
Worried about life after treatmentOur Continuing Care Program, to support you as you re-integrate into your daily home life.
Looking for housing after treatmentOne of our many Community Partners who offer post-treatment housing. Call us at 1-866-232-1212 and we can put you in touch.
Looking to get “clean” or detox.The ConnexOntario Helpline, 1-866-531-2600, can connect you with Withdrawal Management Services. If you are interested in treatment following detox, call 1-866-232-1212 and we’ll coordinate this.

Don’t see what you need? Contact us anytime for a confidential assessment where we can match you with the support you’re looking for.

Freedom and Recovery from Opioid Addiction

Staying connected and finding healthy support systems for your new, sober life are key to lifelong freedom and recovery from addiction.

Finding an after-treatment care program, like the Continuing Care and Alumni programs offered at Renascent, extends your counselling support, peer support, and education following your primary intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment period. The goal of a program like Continuing Care is to support you to maintain your abstinence, and help you re-establish it if you struggle with relapse.

For example, our Continuing Care program is available to clients as an in-class format or over the phone, while our Alumni program goes an additional step by providing healthy, safe, and strong social community foundations for long-term recovery to thrive. From group meetings to social events and volunteer opportunities, an alumni program can be a vital part of your personal growth and long-term recovery.

Other peer support programs in the recovery community, like a 12-step meeting through Heroin Anonymous or other group for opioid addictions, are also built on drawing your power to stay sober from people who have walked the same journey as you.

Often, these kinds of peer-support and after-treatment care programs offer just the type of friendship you need with positive ways to celebrate and value your sobriety – key ways to stay connected to your support systems and your reasons for quitting opioids once and for all.

For Healthcare Professionals – Refer a Patient

If you’re a healthcare professional, you’re in the unique position of being able to help your patients and their families reclaim their lives from addiction. Renascent is pleased to partner with physicians and other healthcare professionals to facilitate your patient’s treatment and ongoing recovery.

Our accredited, abstinence-based treatment model results in treatment outcomes that are among the best in Canada. Referring your patients to Renascent is a decision you can trust.

Your Road to Recovery Starts Here

Your addiction recovery journey begins with “I need help.” We’ve helped almost 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our counsellors, call 1-866-232-1212 anytime, day or night, or Contact Us Today.

Video: Art is My Addiction

 

“My plan was to have my new daughter, breastfeed her to health, and then do all of those I loved a favour, and, well, check out early so to speak. Luckily, my daughter was born healthy and as I kept my promise of keeping her fed, I would begin to sketch while I was up at night. These sketches were as raw as those receptors reawakening in my brain…

Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction

Heroin Addiction

Recovering from heroin addiction isn’t something you can tackle without help and support. Like any other drug addiction, heroin use makes it harder and harder to lead a normal life, putting your relationships with family, friends, and employers at risk.

At Renascent, we understand, and we can help. In 2020, we’ll celebrate 50 years as a trusted, national leader in drug, alcohol, and food addiction rehab programs and services in Toronto, Ontario.

In this article, we’ll explore heroin addiction, treatment, and recovery programs so you can realize your opportunity for life-long healing and freedom from addiction.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a dangerous, illegal, and highly addictive drug.

Heroin is a “semi-synthetic” opioid drug. It’s made from morphine, an opiate found naturally in the opium poppy, that is then chemically processed in illegal labs.

Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked and it enters your brain quickly, resulting in an immediate high that is very addictive.

The Centre for Mental Health and Addiction tells us it’s possible to become addicted to heroin after only 2–3 weeks of use.

As with other opioid drugs, overdose is a dangerous possibility with heroin use, and can lead to death. In some cases, fentanyl is used to cut heroin, and people overdose because they don’t know they are also taking this powerful and dangerous prescription opioid drug.

Effects of Using Heroin

Heroin is a depressant. It slows down the activity of the nervous system, so users often have a pleasant, tranquil, and sedated feeling lasting a few minutes or as long as an hour.

Heroin use can also lead to both short- and long-term mental and physical effects.*

In the short-term, users can experience:

  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constricted pupils
  • Itching or burning sensation of the skin
  • Headaches
  • Slowed breathing

Over long-term and increased use, heroin can cause:

  • Learning and memory problems
  • Difficulty controlling impulsive behaviour
  • Lack of emotion (apathy)
  • Unstable moods and depression
  • Risk of infectious diseases (hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV) and blood poisoning from unclean needles and syringes
  • Insomnia
  • Liver and kidney disease

*Source: Government of Canada

Heroin Use in Canada

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health reports that heroin is used by a range of people from a variety of cultural, social, economic, and age groups. First-time users tend to be in their teens or 20s, but most people who use heroin regularly are over 30 years of age.

It’s important to understand that all sociodemographic and socioeconomic groups are affected by what is known as the ‘opioid crisis’ in Canada. Use and overdose deaths happen among people with long-term substance use and first-time users, whether they are rich or poor, young or old.

If you or someone you love has signs of heroin addiction, we understand, and we can help.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heroin Addiction

“Because denial is one of the main characteristics of addiction, many aren’t even aware how unmanageable their life has become; it just seems normal to juggle creditors, tell lies, hide the habit, engage in criminal behaviour, avoid family members … anyone can increase the list. Everyone likes to think that they have a handle on their own affairs, and everyone has become accustomed to their own coping strategies, even those that cause a great deal of suffering.

But in order to proceed with the rest of the 12 steps, an addict has to admit that their life has become unmanageable.”

Excerpt from Renascent blog post, January 2017

It’s hard to admit you have a heroin addiction and then ask for help. But like with any addiction, recognizing the signs of a problem and admitting the truth about the impact of your addiction is essential to accepting help and your successful recovery. This is why honesty is the first principle of every 12-step recovery plan.

And while we know that not all people who experiment with heroin become addicted, regular use usually leads to developing a tolerance for the drug – you need more of it, and more often, to feel the same effects. Within weeks, you can develop a physical dependence on heroin, and from there, it can be very hard to quit.

Diagnosing a Heroin Addiction

If you think you might have a problem with heroin use, it’s important to talk to someone. Heroin addiction can be diagnosed by your doctor, therapist, or other health care provider. Or you can call a free and confidential help line at an accredited addiction treatment centre like Renascent, where trained counsellors will see you through to the next step.

It’s important to not be discouraged from seeking help once you ask yourself questions like “Am I an addict?” You might be, but whether you’re addicted or not, you’re always a person first, and many people experience addiction. Those same people can experience recovery that lasts a lifetime, and so can you. Remember, in Ontario, addiction is recognized as a disability in the Human Rights Code, and so you are protected against discrimination based on your addiction from anyone you need to tell.

In fact, substance use is considered a chronic disorder by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5), a handbook used widely by healthcare professionals to guide diagnosis of mental disorders and addictions. This means that if you’re experiencing problems as a result of heroin use, it doesn’t make you a bad person, or any other label you or others have used – it means you have a psychiatric brain disorder or disease that can be treated like any other health condition.

At Renascent, all our counsellors have lived experiences of addiction and long-term recovery, so you’ll have the understanding and support you need to ask for help, and at every step of your treatment.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Thanks to our universal healthcare system in Canada, everyone has access to help for addiction and substance use. Talking to your doctor, going to a walk-in clinic, seeing a public health nurse — any of these healthcare professionals can help you and refer you to a good addiction treatment centre you can trust. Many of these treatment centres, including Renascent, have financial need pricing if affordability is an issue.

At Renascent, we offer person-centred treatment for heroin addiction. This means we treat the whole person, because heroin addiction affects you on every level. Your care will be based on a heroin rehab program tailored to meet your unique needs.

Our comprehensive, Toronto-region, addiction treatment programs take place in safe, serene, and caring environments inside beautifully restored heritage homes. Our abstinence-based model integrates 12-step facilitation with other best practices in clinical and medical approaches, which are proven to make a difference in long-term sobriety.

We offer intensive in-patient heroin abuse treatment program (28–42 days) with around-the-clock counselling and support from our team of addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and long-term recovery.

Included in every treatment stay at Renascent:

  • Education on your addiction and its physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy to understand and change your addiction behaviour patterns
  • 12-step facilitation
  • Personalized one-on-one and solution-focused therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Exercise, sleep, and healthy eating

The accredited, personalized and abstinence-based treatment we offer means even those with the most serious of drug addictions can find renewed health and healing, and a truly transformative experience.

Choosing your Treatment Program

It can be hard to decide what type of treatment program you need. There are a lot of options out there, and each person has different needs and resources for addiction treatment. For example, how long you stay in treatment, and whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, depends on many factors and varies from person to person.

Addiction treatment is an unregulated market in Canada, so anyone can say anything they want about their treatment centres and programs. It’s important to look for centres like Renascent that have real accreditation from real oversight committees like the Canadian Centre for Accreditation. Testimonials are also important, but real accreditation is essential.

Also, cost doesn’t always indicate quality, but better programs need to charge for treatment that works, professional, experienced staff, and safe, welcoming addiction centres. Not-for-profit centres like Renascent can offer reduced fees and even financial need pricing programs if cost is an issue.

And, if you are dealing with trauma and abuse, in addition to your addiction, you need a safe place to make your recovery more successful. Reputable treatment centres offer gender-specific treatment, women’s only programs, and LGBQT+ friendly spaces, where everyone can feel safe to be themselves.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

We find that most people benefit from removing themselves from the triggers for their addiction. A residential or “inpatient” program can offer you complete care and round-the-clock support from a community of like-minded people, something particularly important if you don’t have a strong and healthy support system at home.

A minimum stay of 28 days is usually suggested for lasting recovery from drug addiction, and Renascent offers inpatient programs with stays between 28 and 42 days. And you can always extend your stay if needed to meet your recovery goals.

If you feel a bit anxious about the idea of living at a treatment centre, keep in mind that our centres are actual homes, not institutions. You’ll quickly feel comfortable in your surroundings, with the staff, and with the other clients in residence. We believe that a safe, welcoming space is the ideal environment for healing and finding recovery.

On the other hand, some people are not ready for inpatient treatment. An initial assessment will help you determine what type of care best meets your current needs.

Renascent can help match you with the support you need. Call us anytime for a confidential assessment, and one of our trained experts will connect you with the best program for you.

If You Are:We Might Suggest:
Looking for one-on-one supportA one-on-one counselling session with one of our addiction experts
Seeking a community who understandsInpatient treatment with group counselling, or AA/NA/CA/OA meetings
Struggling with relapse42-days of Inpatient Treatment, followed by active participation in our Continuing Care program.
In recovery, but looking to connect with informal supportGetting involved with Renascent’s Alumni Care community. There are regular meetings, engaged committees, and events for everyone. We’re here for life!
Concerned how addiction in your family might be impacting your childrenSafe programs geared for kids and parents/caregivers, such as Children’s Healthy Coping Skills
Worried about your family member or loved one, including siblings, close friends, and partnersOur Essential Family Care Programs, particularly the Introduction to Family Care
A parent in active recoveryA weekend course like Parenting in Recovery, to help you boost your parenting skills
Concerned addiction is affecting your work or workplaceOur Corporate Complete Care Advantage, designed to support employees and employers as they navigate addiction and recovery in the workplace.
Worried about life after treatmentOur Continuing Care Program, to support you as you re-integrate into your daily home life.
Looking for housing after treatmentOne of our many Community Partners who offer post-treatment housing. Call us at 1-866-232-1212 and we can put you in touch.
Looking to get “clean” or detox.The ConnexOntario Helpline, 1-866-531-2600, can connect you with Withdrawal Management Services. If you are interested in treatment following detox, call 1-866-232-1212 and we’ll coordinate this.

Don’t see what you need? Contact us anytime for a confidential assessment where we can match you with the support you’re looking for.

Family Support for Addiction

Addiction is a family disease.

Family members often know there’s a problem long before the addicted person does, but getting an addict to admit they have a problem with heroin can be heartbreaking and frustrating. Loved ones are left feeling confused, anxious, desperate, and alone.

Drug and alcohol addiction affects the entire family and the family system itself. Without knowing it, spouses, parents, and children, as well as members of the extended family and community of loved ones, can become lost in the downward spiral of addiction, just as the addict is. Family members need to know that addiction is recognized as a mental health disorder and brain disease and that sustained recovery is possible.

Thankfully, there are programs specifically designed to help adult family members and children cope with the effects of addiction. At Renascent, our Family Care programs are specifically tailored to meet the distinct needs of people impacted by a loved one’s drinking or drug use.

We offer programs for children aged 7–13 and their caregivers to develop practical tools for self-care, and learn the skills to protect themselves from the effects of addiction.

And, our Parenting in Recovery program teaches effective and practical parenting tools to help you and your family recover together. You’ll learn how to improve your family’s communication, how to help your children understand addiction in an age-appropriate way, and how to boost protective factors in both your own and your children’s lives.

Addiction Recovery for a Lifetime

People can and do recover from heroin addiction. Lasting recovery and lifelong freedom from addiction is possible.

If you’ve taken your first step and admitted you need help, you are already on your path to recovery. In fact, Step 1 in Heroin Anonymous (HA) is: “We admitted that we were powerless over heroin, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

From there, you can be upfront about your struggles, begin to accept help, get the right treatment, and join a supportive community of other people who understand what you are going through.

Find an HA meeting near me

You will also need to have a sincere desire to stop using heroin. To fully recover and prevent relapse, you must be sincerely willing to put heroin aside and be clean and sober in order to give treatment a fair chance of working.

At Renascent, this is why we offer complete abstinence programs. Generally speaking, when we are entirely abstinent, we have a much better chance of recovering from drug addiction because alcohol or any other drug use can be a gateway back to heroin.

Lastly, though challenging, long-term recovery comes when you find the strength to resist quitting when the work gets hard. Your counsellors and peers will support you through the hard times. And you should feel empowered to extend your treatment time if you feel you need it at the end of your stay.

Continuing Care and Alumni Programs

Even once your inpatient treatment has ended and you’re back home, you won’t be alone. Any significant life change takes time and practice, and recovery from addiction is no different. We’re here to support you before, during, and after treatment.

With an aftercare program, like the Continuing Care and Alumni programs offered at Renascent, your counselling support, peer support, and education from your primary intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment period is extended. The goal of these aftercare programs is to support you to maintain your abstinence, and help you re-establish it if you struggle with relapse.

For example, our 20-week Continuing Care program provides ongoing support throughout those critical first few months after inpatient addiction treatment as you begin to apply the tools you learned to your daily life and help you protect your recovery. We offer:

  • Weekly counselling and support sessions
  • Intensive relapse prevention education
  • A structured curriculum with assignments
  • Both individual and group counselling

Typically, an aftercare program is available to clients as an in-class format or over the phone. And you don’t have to have a referral or have completed your primary treatment at the same centre to enrol.

Alumni programs go an additional step and provide a healthy, safe, and strong social community foundation for long-term recovery to thrive. From group meetings to social events and volunteer opportunities, an alumni program can be a vital part of your personal growth and long-term recovery.

Your Road to Recovery Starts Here

Your addiction recovery journey begins with “I need help.” We’ve helped almost 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our counsellors, call 1-866-232-1212 anytime, day or night, or Contact Us Today.

Understanding the DSM-V Handbook

Understanding the DSM-V Handbook

If you’re working in the mental healthcare profession, including addiction rehabilitation – or if you’re in recovery and treatment for addiction – chances are good that you’ve heard of the DSM-V (often referred to as the DSM-5).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has been around since the 1950s, helping guide healthcare decision-making by doctors and other mental health professionals in North America and worldwide.

It’s not the only tool doctors use to help diagnose mental disorders like addictions, but it is a commonly used resource. And despite the criticism against it, and some of the challenges of using it in everyday practice, the DSM is a valuable tool healthcare professionals need to know about.

What is the DSM-V?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a handbook used by healthcare professionals to guide diagnosis of mental disorders. The DSM-5 (or DSM-V) is the latest edition of this handbook, published in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association

The DSM is constantly under review and revision by the Association as research and understanding of mental health increases and improves; further editions are expected if and when updates need to be made.

What makes the DSM so useful is its comprehensive catalogue of descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. It provides a common language for doctors to use when talking to each other, and to patients and their families, helping ensure consistent and reliable diagnoses as well as usable data for research. 

Addiction in the latest DSM

The DSM is commonly used in addiction and rehabilitation to help diagnose and treat people’s addictions and other mental health issues.

Importantly, the DSM-5 defines addictions to alcohol and drugs as psychiatric disorders. By including addiction in the DSM as an aspect of mental health, the psychiatric profession has reinforced what we know from research and rehabilitation: that addiction is a brain disease.

The major change regarding addiction in the DSM-5 edition is that it combines together the categories of substance dependence (addiction marked by a pattern of compulsive use or loss of control) and substance abuse disorders (using in a manner that causes problems but does not have a pattern of compulsive use) under one broad category called “substance-related disorders”.

Substance-Related Disorders and the DSM

Specifically, the DSM-5 recognizes substance-related disorders resulting from the use of 10 separate classes of drugs:

Plus, the DSM-5 lists two distinct groups of substance-related disorders: substance use disorders and substance-induced disorders. Both groups are important in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of drug and alcohol use and addiction.

Challenges to Using the DSM

The DSM is not the only reference out there to diagnose addiction or any other mental health condition. The World Health Organization publishes the International Classification of Disease, which is often used side-by-side with the DSM as a compatible tool for diagnosis and monitoring.

Some, like the National Institutes of Health, have criticized the DSM for focusing too much on superficial symptoms and a lack of measurable, scientific signs of mental health disorders. Others, like Alcoholics Anonymous, prefer to use models outside such clinical classification systems.

However, here at Renascent we recognize that the DSM does contain the most up-to-date criteria currently used for diagnosing mental disorders like addiction, and that despite its challenges, it is routinely and widely used. 

Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol or Drug Addiction

Even with tools and handbooks like the DSM, it can be difficult on your own to recognize and admit that you are addicted to drugs or alcohol

There is unfortunately no single question that will definitively determine if you are an addict, but if you are here asking that very question, you can likely use help and someone to talk to.

Addiction is a serious disorder and real help is available. We’ve helped almost 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our counsellors, or to get information on how to refer a patient to us, contact us today.