Crack Addiction

Crack Addiction

Crack is considered the most addictive form of cocaine. The side effects and symptoms of addiction, including overdose, psychosis, and violent behaviour, also make it one of the most dangerous.

If an addiction to crack is affecting your life, we understand and we can help. Addiction to powerful drugs like crack makes it harder and harder to lead a healthy, normal life. When getting and taking a drug becomes the central focus of your day, it puts a strain on your family, friends, work, health, and finances.

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between crack and cocaine, the side effects and symptoms of problem use, treatment options for a crack addiction, and the help available for healing and long-term recovery.

As an accredited national leader in treating drug, alcohol, and food addiction for 50 years, Renascent offers intensive and personalized inpatient and outpatient programs that work.

We’ve helped almost 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

What is Crack?

Crack is a powerful stimulant drug. Also known as rock and freebase, crack is the smokable form of cocaine.

Crack is highly addictive. Like cocaine, it changes a person’s brain chemistry to produce feelings of euphoria (feeling ‘high’), being more alert, or energetic.

Crack Cocaine Addiction and Use in Canada

According to Health Canada, the chemicals inside crack reach the brain very quickly. This means that when used often and in higher doses, crack can be more addictive than regular cocaine.

In 2019, the Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction reported that:

  • The percentage of cocaine use, including crack, in the Canadian population is considered low (about 2%).
  • The rate of cocaine and crack use by older youth (ages 20-24) is increasing.
  • Cocaine, including crack, is responsible for the highest costs to the Canadian criminal justice system of any drug in Canada.

Crack Addiction Symptoms and Side Effects

The signs and symptoms of a crack addiction are the same as problem use or addiction to cocaine. Intense cravings, depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, anger, mood swings, and sleeplessness are all warning signs of crack withdrawal and addiction.

There are also serious side effects from smoking crack and cocaine use; overdose, high-blood pressure, stroke, lung damage, and kidney failure are some of the serious physical effects this drug can have on your body. According to Health Canada, using crack for a long time can also lead to other serious mental and physical health problems including psychosis, seizures, and risk of hepatitis and HIV.

It can be hard to quit crack once you have started. With regular use, tolerance to the euphoric effects of crack increases. You need to take more and more to feel the same effects while becoming more sensitive to the negative side effects of this powerful drug.

The good news is that real healing and recovery from crack addiction is possible. If you think that you or someone you love might have an addiction to crack, we understand and we can help.

Crack Addiction and Recovery Stories

I arrived at rehab because of a problem with drugs. After decades of using various forms of “recreational” chemicals, which I had always been able to stop when things got too bad, I had finally met my match with crack cocaine.

I agreed to treatment mainly because I needed a rest. I’d been using heavily for well over a year, eventually holed up in my house trying to run my business by telephone and avoiding direct contact with colleagues, friends, and family.

Long runs of sleepless days and nights had left me exhausted. I felt hopeless.

Excerpt from Renascent Alumni post, July 2014

Renascent and our alumni are committed to creating a community for recovery: a safe social, educational, and spiritual network, which facilitates a lifetime of clean and sober living.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry this message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery.

Read more stories of hope and healing shared by our alumni community on our blog.

How to Overcome Crack Addiction

Like any addiction, crack can make you lose control over your use of the drug and life itself. Smoking crack, with its very rapid, intense, and short-lived effects, is highly addictive. Getting and taking it can become the only thing that matters.

With the right treatment program, however, thousands recover.

For example, Renascent offers comprehensive, person-centred Toronto and Durham region addiction treatment programs that take place in safe, caring environments. 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 recovery.

Our intensive in-patient cocaine abuse treatment program (28–42 day stays) provides around-the-clock counselling and support from our team of registered psychotherapists and certified drug and alcohol addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and long-term recovery.

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.

How to Help Someone with a Crack Addiction

Addiction is a family disease. A person’s addiction to crack affects all the relationships in their life: spouses and partners, kids, friends, colleagues, and more.

Family members often know there’s a problem long before the addicted person does. But it can be a long and frustrating road to get someone with an addiction to admit they have a problem. Loved ones often feel confused, anxious, desperate, and alone.

That’s why Renascent offers extensive family programs to help adults and children cope with the effects of addiction. Our goal is to support and help families break the cycle of addiction, one person at a time.

Your Road to Recovery Starts Here

Your addiction recovery journey begins with “I need help.” In 2020, Renascent celebrates 50 years as a trusted, national leader in drug, alcohol and food addiction rehab programs and services in Toronto and Durham region, Ontario. We can help you too.

The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery with compassion, respect, empathy and understanding. Our staff includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our counsellors, call 1-844-244-4583 anytime, day or night, or Contact Us Today.

Recovery and Isolation: Tips for Staying Safe and Sane

Recovery and Isolation: Tips for Staying Safe and Sane

Staying connected is such an integral part of recovery, which makes the current situation an especially tricky one for people in recovery. To support the recovery community, who has extra pressure to stay safe and sane, here are seven tips for staying connected and protecting your mental health during this time:

1. Pick up your phone. We’re so lucky to have all the communication tools we do today, so make the most of them! Group text threads can replace support groups, FaceTime calls can replace coffee dates, and video conferencing can replace meetings. Set up regular video chats with your sponsor and closest friends, and treat them like normal hang outs. Make a cup of tea and get into your favourite chair, or set out on a walk “together”, and focus on each other for a while.

2. Get exercise, however you can. It only takes 90 minutes of walking to reach 10,000 steps, so between an hour walk and your regular movements, you can easily reach 10,000 steps per day. Many gyms and yoga studios are offering online streaming of their classes, and there are thousands of yoga and exercise classes available on YouTube.

3. Focus on your self care. To stay safe and sane, take care of yourself in every way you can. Keep your living space clean and tidy, maintain your hygiene, eat and sleep regularly and well. Put on an outfit you feel good in every morning, and allocate time to do an activity you enjoy every single day.

4. Meditate, or try. It’s not for everyone, but in times like these that can really increase our feelings of anxiety or depression, it’s worth a try. Headspace has created a free collection of meditations, sleep, and movement exercises called Weathering the Storm.

5. Enjoy the #TogetherAtHome concert series and hashtag. The Together At Home concert series features some huge musical acts (Coldplay, John Legend, and more) performing concerts for us from their living rooms, and the concerts stay online so don’t worry about missing them. The hashtag on Twitter and Instagram are where people are sharing games, activities, and other ways to interact with each other from our homes.

6. Maintain your schedule. Keep waking up at a healthy time, keeping going to bed 7-8 hours before you want to wake up, and keep eating three meals a day at the usual times. Keep attending 12-step meetings online. If you have more time on your hands now than you used to, start filling up those hours with healthy activities immediately. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never had time? Whether it’s being able to run 5k or knit a sweater, there are online tools available to help you, so start working toward goals that will help you occupy your time and keep you focused on self-improvement.

7. Watch a TV show with your friends. Use a tool like Netflix Party to watch something together, or just agree to watch an episode per day or per week, and share your reactions in your group chat. Choose something gripping or hilarious, whatever works as a distraction from current events and gives you something to bond over with your friends.

8. Listen to podcasts that boost your mood and support your recovery. There are so many excellent comedy podcasts, and a number of amazing recovery podcasts, that can be great company while you’re taking a long walk, cooking, cleaning, or just relaxing.

Have you already been using these tips for staying safe and sane? How are they working for you? Share any of your own tips in the comments below!

 

10 Tips and Tricks for Working From Home

10 Tips and Tricks for Working From Home

It’s the dream, isn’t it? Being able to work from your couch, not having to get dressed or commute or survive office chit chat over a broken printer? Except now that we’re all living the dream, some of us are discovering that working from home can really mess up your home life, and isn’t always as easy as it sounds. To help those of you who are new to this style of working, here are 10 tips and tricks for working from home from someone who has been doing it successfully for a few years:

1. Keep waking up at your usual time, and go through your usual morning routine, including getting dressed. Even if you’re just changing from dirty pyjamas to clean ones, change your clothes. If you’re going to be participating in any video chats, have a nice, clean shirt ready to throw on.

2. Use your commute time to do the things you never used to have time for in the mornings, like eating a proper breakfast. The better your breakfast is, the less likely you’ll be distracted by hunger and snacking later, so fill up on a bowl of oatmeal with fruit preserves and nuts, or a veggie omelet.

3. Use another few minutes of your commute time to get in some exercise. Whether it’s a walk in the neighbourhood or a YouTube yoga or an Instagram Live workout, getting your blood flowing and shaking off the night is a great way to shift your brain over to work mode.

4. Make your bed. It’s a lesson we all learn in treatment, and there’s no reason to quit now. In fact, making your bed as soon as you’re out of it is even more important now that you’ll be home all day, tempted to get back into it. A made bed will remind you that you’re not allowed back in until bedtime, so get back to your office!

5. Office? What office? Yeah, it’s time to set one up. Create a workspace wherever you can, with whatever you need to get your job done within reach. If you aren’t home alone, make sure a good pair of headphone are part of your setup, both so that you can participate in phone meetings, and to drown out distractions around you. If possible, position your workspace somewhere where you get as much natural light as possible. Make sure you are at your workspace the minute your workday starts.

6. Use timers. When your kids want to play, when your partner wants to chat, when you’re starting to think taking out the garbage would be a welcome distraction, refer to your timers. For yourself, you’ll want to implement the Pomodoro Technique with timers like Focus Keeper or Marinara Timer. These will help you stay focused on work for reasonable chunks of time, and lay out breaks when you need them. For your kids, set a timer somewhere they can see but not touch, like an oven timer, that lets them count down the hours or minutes that are left until lunchtime or the end of your workday.

7. Take a normal lunch break. When the timer goes off, walk away from your workspace for as long as your lunch break normally lasts. Eat something, play with your kids, chat with your roommates, partner, etc. Step outside, do some stretches, and prepare yourself to dive back in for the second half of your workday.

8. Stick to your normal quitting time. This works for you in two ways. 1. You have a deadline to work toward, and 2. Your work won’t leak into your personal time. Without a strict schedule, the hours can blend into each other and suddenly the day is over and it can feel like you didn’t accomplish a single thing. As you’re approaching the end of the day, start working on a list of what you’ll need to work on tomorrow — you’ll be grateful for that list in the morning! When your last timer of the day goes off, shut it all down and walk away. This is your chance to attack your personal to do lists and house chores, attend an online meeting, and spend time with family and friends. (Bonus: you can use your evening commute time for another exercise break to shake off the workday!)

9. Head to bed at your usual time, which should be 7-8 hours before your alarm clock is going to go off. The sense of accomplishment when you get into a made bed after finishing a full workday and enjoying an evening of leisure time is amazing.

10. Go easy on yourself. It can take a while to get used to working from a new space, especially when it’s the space you have always associated with being the exact opposite of work. Some days won’t be as productive as others, and that’s okay. The people you live with are also adjusting to this new reality, so be patient with each other as you settle into some new routines.

Let us know how these 10 tips and tricks for working from home helped you make the transition to remote working, and share your own tips in the comments below!

12-step Meetings in a Time of Coronavirus

12-step Meetings in a Time of Coronavirus

It’s all anyone seems to be talking about, but the news about COVID-19 or coronavirus and how it spreads is a good reminder of the ways we can protect ourselves from illness, while continuing to focus on our recovery by attending 12-step meetings. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and other 12-step meetings are the type of gathering where illnesses like the coronavirus can easily be transmitted, and so here are our tips for steering clear while staying on track.

1. Unless you are living somewhere that is hosting meetings, do not attend 12-step meetings in person. Given the current circumstances, your safest bet is to avoid gatherings altogether, and attend meetings online via tools like In The Rooms and Online Intergroup. Al-Anon meetings are also taking place online, so family members and loved ones can continue their own journeys of recovery.

2. Stay in touch with your sponsor and other friends in recovery, and crack open the books. Stay connected by reaching out to your support network via text, FaceTime, social media, and all the other ways technology allows us to be in touch without being physically present.

3. If you are still attending meetings within your residence, take a break from shaking and holding hands, and follow the current advice to maintain a 2 metre distance from those around you. Traditions can help to keep us grounded, but for now, head nods and subtle bows are a nice way of greeting someone without transferring germs. During the Serenity Prayer, maintain that distance.

4. When you’re helping to tidy up the room (you do help with the tidying up, don’t you?!), be conscious about not touching your face after you’ve touched chairs, coffee cups, books, door handles, light switches, etc., and go wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds when you’re done.

5. Panic helps no one. Follow the guidelines given by local public health authorities, and use your common sense to keep yourself and your community safe.

 

 

Oxycodone Addiction

Oxycodone Addiction

The next four days without oxycodone were awful. My skin crawled. I felt as though I was going through the same mental and emotional turmoil I had endured when I stopped drinking alcohol 25 years earlier. The ferocity of the withdrawal from narcotics was surprisingly brutal, just like alcohol.

Excerpt from Renascent Alumni post, July 2015

In light of Canada’s opioid crisis, prescription pain medicines like oxycodone continue to be a risk for misuse and overuse. When prescribed by a doctor and used properly, opioids like oxycodone can safely help people with severe pain, but these powerful drugs can also cause addiction, overdose, and death.

In this article, we’ll talk about oxycodone use in Canada, the risks of taking these narcotic pain medicines, signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, drug treatment options, and how to find lifelong healing and recovery from oxycodone addiction.

As an accredited national leader in treating drug, alcohol, and food addiction for 50 years, Renascent offers intensive and personalized inpatient and outpatient programs that work.

We’ve helped over 50,000 people recover from addiction. We can help you too.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a pain medicine prescribed by doctors. It’s a powerful opioid drug, just like morphine, codeine, and methadone.

Opioids like oxycodone 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 both short- and long-term pain, but these effects are also what makes opioids highly addictive and dangerous.

Oxycodone is taken by mouth as a pill or liquid. It should only be taken and used with a prescription and under the supervision of a doctor. According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, oxycodone is found in several products in Canada:

  • together with other drugs in products like Percocet, Oxycocet, and Endocet
  • by itself in immediate-release products (IR), such as Oxy-IR
  • by itself in controlled-release products (CR), such as OxyContin (no longer available in Canada), OxyNEO, Apo-Oxycodone CR, and PMS-Oxycodone CR.

Oxycodone is a very strong drug: In Canada, one oxycodone controlled-release tablet can contain up to 80 milligrams of oxycodone (the same amount as 16 Percocet tablets). For someone with little or no tolerance to opioids, taking more oxycodone pills than prescribed can cause addiction, overdose, and even death.

Legal Status of Prescription Opioids in Canada

Most prescription opioids like oxycodone are classified in Canada as Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Their use is legal only when they are prescribed by a licenced practitioner like a doctor, and used by the person to whom they have been prescribed.

It is illegal in Canada to take, have, make, or sell oxycodone not prescribed to you. It is also against the law to “double doctor” opioid drugs like oxycodone (i.e., getting a prescription for oxycodone from more than one doctor at the same time without telling each doctor).

Oxycodone and Opioid Use in Canada

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, opioid pain relievers, including oxycodone, are used by 13% of the Canadian population. More concerning though, is that among Canadians who use opioid pain relievers, about 2% reported using them for non-medical purposes.

Similarly, the 2017 Survey on Opioid Awareness reported that 3 in 10 Canadians aged 18 and over had used some form of opioids in the past 5 years. Of those, 1 in 4 were storing leftover opioid medicines in their home.

Oxycodone used to be available in Canada in the long-lasting pain relief product OxyContin. OxyContin was commonly prescribed to help patients manage severe pain, such as pain from surgery, cancer, and chronic health problems. However, because OxyContin was widely misused and has been linked to the opioid crisis, it is no longer available in Canada.

Risks of Taking Oxycodone

When used as prescribed by a doctor, oxycodone can be a safe way to relieve pain without overdose or addiction, but the dangerous risks for misuse are real.

Taking oxycodone when it is not prescribed to you, or taking more than is prescribed to you, can lead to overdose and death. The risk increases when people crush or chew a controlled-release oxycodone pill, or dissolve the pills for injection, causing all of the powerful oxycodone to be released into their bodies at once.

It is also very easy to become addicted to opioid drugs like oxycodone. Taking oxycodone without a prescription is a risk for addiction, and taking more or using it more often than prescribed can quickly build tolerance to the medicine. It can be very hard to quit oxycodone once addiction sets in.

Other serious risks of misusing oxycodone include getting HIV, hepatitis, and other life-threatening infections through shared needles. You can also be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to jail time for using oxycodone illegally.

There are also many common side effects from taking opioid drugs like oxycodone. In addition to withdrawal sickness, taking oxycodone can have side effects such as constipation, sexual problems, swelling, nausea, vomiting, sweating, itching, and sleepiness.

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, and how to take and store your prescription opioid medications safely.

If you are worried you are becoming tolerant or addicted to oxycodone, talk to your doctor or call Renascent today.

Oxycodone Addiction Symptoms

If you’ve been prescribed oxycodone for pain relief, you might be concerned about the risk of addiction. It’s important to take your oxycodone medicine as prescribed, and always talk to your doctor if you think you need to make changes to the amount or frequency you are taking these drugs.

You should also store your prescription oxycodone in a secure place away from children and teenagers.Never share your oxycodone medication with anyone else, and return any unused oxycodone to your pharmacist.

People with long-term pain can develop a tolerance to their prescription oxycodone. Your doctor can help you manage your symptoms and tolerance and adjust your prescription safely, or help you find other drugs or strategies for relieving your pain.

Similar to other opioid drugs, there are common signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction to watch out for:

  • Needing to use more oxycodone, and more often, to get the same effect.
  • Physical symptoms such as shakes, cramps, vomiting, muscle pain, trouble sleeping, and restlessness when you aren’t using oxycodone.
  • Spending more time and money getting oxycodone than with friends, family, and activities you used to enjoy.

It can be hard to admit you have a problem with drug use, especially with a drug that has been prescribed to you by a doctor. If you think you might have an addiction, we understand and we can help.

How to Beat Oxycodone Addiction

An accredited, personalized, and abstinence-based treatment is recommended for opioid addictions, including oxycodone. In our 50 years of experience treating drug, alcohol, and food addictions, we know that the right professional treatment can help people find life-long healing and recovery.

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.

A high-quality, comprehensive inpatient (residential) treatment program is the best way to overcome oxycodone addiction. For example, every treatment stay at Renascent drug treatment centres includes:

  • 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
  • Regular exercise, sleep, and healthy eating

Inpatient programs also have around-the-clock counselling and support from experienced, qualified staff who will provide you with tools and education in practical recovery and life skills that will make long-term recovery more successful.

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.

Life After Opioid Drug Treatment

Finding an after-care program, like the Continuing Care and Alumni programs offered at Renascent, extends your counselling support, peer support, and education following an inpatient or outpatient drug addiction treatment program.

The goal of an after-care program is to support you to maintain your abstinence, and help you re-establish it if you struggle with relapse.

After-care programs can be in-class or over the phone with a treatment centre, or group meetings and social events through organizations like Narcotics Anonymous. However you choose to continue your healing, the idea is to build a healthy, safe, and strong community foundation for your recovery and long-term freedom from addiction.

Your Road to Recovery Starts Here

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

The staff at Renascent is passionate about helping people with substance addictions so they can reach their full recovery, with compassion, respect, empathy, and understanding. Our multidisciplinary team includes our counsellors, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and long-term recovery.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our counsellors, call 1-844-244-4583 anytime, day or night, or Contact Us Today.

Ask a Family Therapist: Do I stay or do I go?

Ask a Family Therapist: Do I stay or do I go?

Ask a Family Therapist

with Sunil Boodhai, MSW (RSW), BEd., manager of Renascent’s Family Care Programs, therapist, and counsellor.

 

Q: My husband has had a drinking problem since the beginning of our marriage. He has gone to treatment three times now. Each time it seems to work for a few months or even a year, and then he relapses. After trying to quit again on his own for a while, he goes back to rehab and the cycle begins again. Last night he relapsed again and I’m at my wit’s end. I love him and our kids love him (he’s a great dad when he’s not drinking) so I don’t want to kick him out or threaten divorce, but I am also so fed up with this roller coaster and always worrying that the next relapse is around every corner. I barely sleep anymore, my boss has noticed how distracted and exhausted I am, and I’m worried our kids are going to start noticing something’s wrong.
– Jada

 

A: Hi Jada, thank you for writing in about your current situation with your partner. I can feel the stress from how you have related your experience of being married to an alcoholic. I am happy to tell you that there is hope and that you are in charge of bringing that hope to yourself and your children. Hope begins by understanding and remembering the following phrase: “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” I understand how this phrase can first appear to be flippant and even uncaring, but let me explain.

Your letter indicates that you have been in a well worn cycle with your partner since the start of your marriage. You are now exhausted by being on that cycle and as you have put it, by being on a “roller coaster.” You can choose to get off that roller coaster in order to save yourself. You cannot control your partner’s alcoholism, but you can control your responses to it. If you respond in the same ways that you have since the start of your marriage, your situation remains the same and your alcoholic partner learns nothing different. If everything stays the same, everything stays the same.

Begin by asking yourself, “What do I want for myself and my children?” Whatever your answer is, it does not necessarily mean you have to end your marriage or even separate from your partner. It will, however, mean that you’ll want to begin learning to set real and appropriate boundaries for yourself when your husband is engaging in behaviours related to his alcoholism (cravings, actively using, and being hung over). You can continue to love him and let him know that you care, while also making the changes you need to get off the wild and uncontrollable ride he has you and your family on. While he is sober, tell him that you are stressed and that it is affecting you and the children negatively. Ask him to agree to stay away when he relapses and only come home when he is past his binge. Another option might be to tell him that you can no longer be on this ride unless he genuinely seeks help for himself to deal with his drinking.

These are all options that are available to you. Vocalizing your needs and making the necessary changes to meet them will at least give you the feeling that you are exercising some agency over your own life, and that you have not in fact been hijacked and held hostage in a hopeless situation. With that single shift of thinking, it’s quite likely that the courage to ask for the larger changes you need will follow. Know that you have choices; know what your needs are; ask for the changes to have those needs met. You have power in your life situation. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Renascent treats addiction as a family disease, and has a suite of Essential Family Care Programs. Two of these programs are designed specifically to help families in your situation. The first one I would recommend is Introduction to Family Care, which would help you acquire the tools to set boundaries and address any enabling and codependent behaviours. The second is our Children’s Healthy Coping Skills program, which allows children ages 7-13 and their caregivers develop practical tools for self-care, and learn the skills to protect themselves from the effects of addiction. I would also advise finding local Al-Anon meetings and attending at least six of them, until you find one you like. Listen to others in similar situations discuss how they are navigating their lives and learn that you are not alone and you can make the changes you need.

Our Family Care Team is also available for one-on-one counselling sessions; call 416-927-1202, ext. 3010 to book an appointment.


To learn more about Renascent’s various Family Care Programs or to submit a question of your own, contact Sunil at sboodhai@renascent.ca or 416-927-1202, ext. 3010.