Perspective: Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business

Perspective: Nothing will bring you greater peace than minding your own business

Officially I don’t belong to a 12-step group; I do have a sponsor who has become like a sister, and a team of incredible women who inspire, mentor, entertain, challenge, and have continued to love me on my best and worst days over the last 8 years, 10 months. Some may say that because I don’t have a home group, I am not a member of AA. I remind them the only requirement of membership is a desire to stop drinking.

For the past 8+ years, I have lived my best life. I am the same woman who could not stop drinking for anything or anyone; I was hopeless and destined to die until I finally “surrendered” in January 2010.

I am growing up in AA and was actively involved in service for a number of years. I still say I owe everything to AA, my higher power, and the people who showed me the way. This includes people outside of 12 step and the people who stick around the rooms, make coffee, and open the doors. I have experienced my parent’s funeral and my child’s wedding, and I didn’t drink — this is truly a miracle. I have found a recovery program that worked for me, and I have persevered. I still consider myself in early recovery, and I don’t hide my recovery from the public. Whenever I can put a face to recovery, I do it with pride as a person with lived experience of a substance use disorder and long-term recovery.

What I’ve learned along the way is there are many roads to recovery, and recovery looks different for everyone. What I measure as success may not be what you consider success. One of the very first teachings in AA was “to keep an open mind” and when I was in early sobriety, I was very opinionated about the quality of other people’s programs even though the next thing I was taught was “live and let live.” It took time, patience, pain, and practice to stop looking at the quality of other people’s lives and focus on my own.

What prompted me to write this is that I want to — as a member of Alcoholics Anonymous — provide an alternate perspective when it comes to harm reduction, abstinence, cannabis, methadone, suboxone, and other mood-altering substances. What people choose to do is none of my business; I want my friends and members of the fellowship to live their best lives. I don’t care if you smoke pot, I don’t care if you drink, I don’t care if you come to meetings drunk. I care that you’re happy, I care that you’re whole, I care that you’re not suffering, and I care that you’re alive.

Letting go has been a process, and for me that means freedom.

Wishing you peace, love, and happiness.  

 

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

How to Recover from Marijuana Addiction through Treatment

How to Recover from Marijuana Addiction through Treatment

Marijuana has a storied history in pop culture as a casual drug, a ‘soft’ drug, the one so socially acceptable even President Barack Obama admitted using it. If you’re reading this though, you may also know it as an addictive substance that can have serious life-changing consequences for those who use it and their loved ones. Partners, employers, friends, and family members often lose patience for the person who is unable to stop using, and have trouble understanding just how an addiction to marijuana can cause such a change in a person’s life. Whether you call it weed, pot, cannabis, marijuana, or any of the other names it’s had over the centuries, in this how-to guide, you will gain the knowledge you need to recover from your marijuana addiction once and for all.

Marijuana addiction is real, and recovery is possible. It begins with taking the first step: admitting that help is needed, and accepting that help.

What kind of a drug is marijuana, and what are its effects?

  • Cannabis has been grown and used by humans since before 2000 B.C.
  • Marijuana’s effects range from stimulant to depressant to hallucinogen, depending on the user and the various strains.
  • Herbal cannabis is derived from the dried flowers, leaves, and stems of the female Cannabis plant.
  • Marijuana can be smoked or ingested.
  • Studies vary on the addiction rates for marijuana, but dependence and addiction are known effects of long-term use.
  • Cannabis use disorder is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as a condition requiring treatment.

So what are the side effects of marijuana use? To start, cognitive impairment on attention, short-term memory, and ability to complete psychomotor tasks — that’s what makes it so dangerous to drive while stoned.

Long-term marijuana use can lead to chronic cognitive deficits like memory loss and reduced IQ, and is associated with a risk of developing other mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. Physically, inhaling the carcinogenic marijuana smoke increases the risk of chronic bronchitis, lung disease, and cancer.

According to the DSM-5, the withdrawal symptoms from marijuana include:

  • irritability,
  • anger or aggression,
  • nervousness or anxiety,
  • sleep difficulty (ie, insomnia, disturbing dreams),
  • decreased appetite or weight loss,
  • restlessness,
  • depressed mood, and
  • at least one of the following physical symptoms causing significant discomfort:
    • abdominal pain,
    • shakiness/tremors,
    • sweating,
    • fever,
    • chills, or
    • headache.

Addicts can and do recover with marijuana addiction treatment.

Recovery is possible. That’s great news for the person struggling with marijuana addiction who may feel hopeless. However, a certain mindset is generally necessary in order for marijuana addiction treatment to work. Some of the things that are generally considered a helpful prerequisite for successful recovery include:

  • Willingness to admit there is a problem. As with addiction to other drugs, marijuana addiction often leads to denial. Users shrink from confronting what is actually going on, the toll the drug is taking on their lives and relationships, and the severity of the problem; owning the wreckage can be overwhelming and is often best accomplished in an intervention-type setting with the help of concerned and supportive loved ones. Admitting the truth about the impact of the addiction is essential to seeking help and ultimately recovering.
  • A sincere desire to stop using marijuana. A person must not merely pay lip service to the idea of getting clean and sober; it doesn’t work that way. Of course, he or she may not feel enthusiastic about having to give up cannabis, indeed may be terrified at the prospect, but one must be willing to put it aside in order to give treatment a fair shot.
  • A willingness to consider complete abstinence as a means to successful addiction treatment. Someone with a marijuana problem may not believe they also have a problem with alcohol or any other drug, but generally speaking, those who are entirely abstinent have a much better chance of recovering from their addiction because other mind-altering drugs can act as gateway drugs to your substance of choice.

How marijuana addiction treatment works

There is no magic pill, quick fix, or single technique to help someone recover from addiction. You can change your life and recover from addiction, and be happier than you ever were before; it’s just a matter of doing the work. At Renascent, marijuana addiction treatment consists of a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem of addiction. It’s an approach that has helped thousands of people who once struggled with addiction achieve lasting recovery.

Treatment modalities for addiction include:

  • Education into the nature of addiction and its physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: Practicing techniques to change behaviour patterns that led you to reach for a mind-altering substance in the first place
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Additional therapies personalized to your individual needs and situation, including reality therapy, person-centred therapy, solution-focused therapy, mindfulness principles, and art therapy

Treatment is facilitated individually and in groups by our team of registered psychotherapists and certified drug and alcohol addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery.

At Renascent, the atmosphere is that of a comfortable home, not a bleak institution. You will be surrounded by loving, caring, experienced staff and peers who, like yourselves, are on a journey of recovery. We have found this to be the best possible environment to support someone as they recover. The bottom line is, marijuana addiction doesn’t have to rule your life anymore. For more information about Renascent’s programs and to find out why we are your best choice for lasting recovery, please call our Access Centre, day or night, toll-free at 1-866-204-7864 or text 1-647-691-4146 to speak confidentially to one of our counsellors.

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.

Recovery in TV and Film

Recovery in TV and Film

As winter drags on, aren’t we all finding ourselves spending more hours in front of the TV? And while you’re there, have you been noticing all the addiction and recovery storylines? Without revealing any spoilers, the shows This Is Us and Teen Mom are both featuring addiction and recovery storylines right now, and this weekend also marks 10 years since the premiere of the infamous Breaking Bad — not exactly a show about recovery, but there was a meeting!

On the reality side of things, there’s Russell Brand’s documentary, From Addiction to Recovery, in which he explores his addiction, reveals how the program has saved his life, and how his relationship with Amy Winehouse spurred his campaign to have addiction recognized and treated as a disorder in the UK. (Warning: adult language and subject matter!)

Click here to watch the full documentary.

The sitcom “Mom” features a mother and daughter (played by Anna Faris and Allison Janney), both of whom are in recovery:

Watch the latest episodes of Mom here.

Recovery Road only got one season, but was widely regarded as a fair and accurate depiction:

“Usually when a character struggles with drugs or alcohol or a combination of the two, they dabble, they spiral, they hit rock bottom, and they ask for help. The story tends to fade to black there, never showing the hard work that goes into being sober. It’s at that point where Recovery Road begins…
It sounds like the stuff of a classic Afterschool Special, but when Maddie faces expulsion or rehab, viewers get to see something rarely shown on television – even less so on teen TV – the real work of recovery.”

Keep reading Recovery Road: finally a TV show about addiction that focuses on recovery

Watch first episode at the bottom of this article.

 

So go ahead, curl up on the couch this weekend, and let us know what you think of these shows!

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.

Alumni Perspective: Recovering from Food Addiction

Alumni Perspective: Recovering from Food Addiction

I turned 70 three months ago. Now generally speaking, a woman would never divulge that she would be entering that decade. However, this is the first time in fifty years that I am free, sane, and liberated from the world of dieting, calorie counting, purging, bingeing extreme exercising and all else associated with society’s vision of how weight loss should come about. All of this changed a year ago, November 23, 2016 a year where I dropped the shackles of dieting and began to truly live.

I started my first serious diet in my mid twenties. For almost all of my entire life growing up I was the chubbiest in the class, the fattest among my group of friends and the one that was either pitied or taunted. It was in this realm that I sought comfort, predominately in bread, pasta, donuts and chocolate bars. Isolation and secret eating became my way of life.

In my twenties I wanted desperately to fix all of that and so I entered the false promises of the weight loss industry. Diet pills, fasting, Herbal Magic, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers (I have more shares in that than Oprah) and a myriad other plans that promised a quick fix. When all these failed and only more weight piled on I turned to the ultimate quick fix of all times, Weight Loss Surgery. For almost a year I rode a high of quick loss only to come to a screeching crash. You see, I gradually began to transfer my food addiction into alcohol. On came back the pounds and again began assuaging my pain with baguettes, bagels, bonbons, and booze. I was suddenly a fat, malnourished, diabetic, alcoholic with high cholesterol and blood pressure. It was at this point that I thought I was hopeless, helpless and at my age not worth saving. I was an ashamed failure, a mentally and physically sick woman.

By the Grace of God as I call it, I found a comment online about a woman who was entering Renascent for food addiction. I inquired about this and found out that this program was literally in my back yard. I made the phone call.

A year later, I no longer take eight metformin to control type 2 diabetes, my cholesterol and blood pressure is normal. The greatest reward though is that I no longer obsess about food or alcohol. My mad cravings are gone and I religiously follow the food plan given to me during my stay at Renascent. Diet is not a part of my vocabulary any longer. No carbs, no sugars, no alcohol is truly doable under any circumstance. Case in point, to celebrate my seventieth birthday I went for a week to the Grand Canyon to whitewater raft and hike. With advance notice and preparation I was able to stay on plan. Eating out is a breeze as is any social event. What a gift I’ve been given: Health, peace, and well being.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the visionary pioneer of food addiction, Dr. Vera Tarman and all the counsellors and staff at Renascent. I was also the fortunate and last client to be the beneficiary of a generous donation to the Food Addiction Program. I am truly, humbly grateful. Oh and as an extra bonus, I lost forty pounds and am in the normal BMI range. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

Food Addiction and Recovery: Ending the Food Fight

Food Addiction and Recovery: Ending the Food Fight

 

My problem with food started as far back as I can remember.

I learned to hide it when I got disapproving comments from family and others. I always wanted to be alone to eat and I would hide and hoard it. As I got older it only got worse. I used food for everything. When something bad happened, I would use it for comfort. When something good happened I’d use it to celebrate or as a reward. I would use it to alleviate boredom.

I got sicker and sicker. I began to binge every day in secret. It made me so ashamed of myself. I would have to be sure to have my binge foods already in the house for each night because I knew I was going to need them. Every day I would buy or bake lots of terribly unhealthy sugary/salty foods and every night I would gorge myself until I felt so sick that I could hardly move.

I couldn’t stop no matter how hard I tried. I would even become angry that I couldn’t keep eating. Each night I would promise myself that tomorrow would be different, but each morning I’d wake up with the obsession still there just as strong as the day before and I’d have to do it all over again.

I lost and gained hundreds of pounds dieting and then giving in to the cravings and quitting. I was in chronic pain. I had to go up my stairs on my hands and knees many times. I didn’t want to go out. I had nothing to wear. My job became almost impossible. It was no way to live. I was desperate.

I decided to have Gastric Bypass Surgery but when I lost some weight ahead of time they said I didn’t need the surgery. That upset me and sent me back to the food. I quickly regained everything I’d just lost plus.

I went to a support group where I heard about a Pilot Program in Toronto for Food Addicts at Renascent. I called them the very next day. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I was accepted into the program and I went into the house on October 12th 2016 for 3 weeks.

It was an adjustment at first but I soon found myself really benefitting from their program of healthy, prepared meals, classes, meetings and counselling sessions. I learned for the first time in my life that I’m not a bad person but that I have a disease. I learned that I’m not like other people. I learned that when I eat my trigger foods, my mind and body undergo actual physical changes that are a chemically induced abnormality or illness. I learned that it is a progressive disease and that it only becomes worse without treatment. I learned that unless I abstain from these trigger foods I cannot recover.

I was helped by counsellors to make changes that have literally saved my life. I have been able to remain abstinent since leaving treatment by using all the tools that were given to me. I work this program every single day and it has become a way of life for me. I have a plan of eating that I follow each day. I have a sponsor who helps me and I have a support system of people in my life that have gone through the same experiences, and who are also in recovery. I now have freedom from the mental obsession and physical cravings that used to plague me relentlessly.

I’ve lost at least 100 lbs. and I feel better than I have ever felt in my life. I’m active and I can do things I only dreamed of doing before. I believe in this program. It has worked for me. The key for me was willingness. I am so grateful that I have been helped to understand that recovery from eating compulsively is possible.

Learn more about Renascent’s Food Addiction Program. To speak with a food addiction expert, call 1-877-230-2918 or email foodaddiction@renascent.ca.

Members of Renascent’s alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email alumni@renascent.ca.

How to Stop Using Fentanyl with Addiction Treatment

How to Stop Using Fentanyl with Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you care about is struggling with fentanyl addiction, you already know the devastating consequences this powerful opioid has on users and their families.

Fentanyl addiction has become a health crisis in recent years. At the moment, hundreds die of fentanyl overdose in Canada each year.

The good news is, you can stop using fentanyl with addiction treatment. In this article, you will learn more about fentanyl, its effects, and the best ways to stop using fentanyl.

What Is Fentanyl, and Why Has It Become So Prevalent?

Fentanyl hydrochloride is an opioid painkiller that was originally developed as a medicine for people with a high tolerance to other opiates, such as cancer patients, but today it is also prescribed to patients with no history of opioid use.

The effect of fentanyl is similar to that of morphine, only much stronger. Fentanyl comes in different applications, from patches to pills and lozenges.

Some facts about fentanyl:

Whether a person is seeking legitimate pain management or struggling with dependence, using fentanyl can quickly turn into a serious addiction that requires ever-increasing amounts to achieve the same high.

The purity of illegal fentanyl is essentially unknown; just a tiny variation in dosage can cause a fatal overdose. Even experienced opiate users can easily overdose from fentanyl, particularly when it’s not possible to know exactly how much they are taking.

What Fentanyl Does to the Body

Fentanyl is a drug with a strong physical addiction profile, meaning that once dependence sets in, the brain’s neurotransmitters no longer function as normal; they depend on the drug. Like other opiates, it produces a euphoric high.

Side effects of fentanyl include drowsiness, sedation, and difficulty breathing.

Once you stop using fentanyl, like any other opioid, withdrawal symptoms occur.

Detox from Fentanyl

Because fentanyl is a powerful opioid, the first step to quitting may involve medical attention. A safe, professionally monitored place to detox, and a schedule to wean off (slowly remove the drug from your system) is a good place to start.

At Renascent, our professional staff can make detox arrangements and medical referrals for anyone wishing to stop using fentanyl.

Treatment and Recovery from Your Fentanyl Addiction

As with any other drug, detoxing from fentanyl is just the first step of your recovery journey. To break the addictive cycle and prevent relapse, a treatment program addresses the factors that led you to abuse opiates in the first place.

The hard work of detox needs to be closely followed by a substance abuse treatment program to make it effective.

Renascent’s residential fentanyl addiction treatment program provides an immersive environment with the support and tools needed for your recovery, because we apply proven therapeutic tools to address cravings, negative behaviours, and ongoing sobriety. Our Primary Care program includes:

  • 28 to 42 days stays in one of our welcoming homes – we don’t operate institutions;
  • around-the-clock counselling and support from our inter-disciplinary team of registered psychotherapists and certified addiction specialists, all of whom have lived experience of addiction and recovery so they truly know and understand what you’re going through;
  • professional and peer support focused on you and your situation, addressing the complex needs of the entire person and providing the tools needed for healing and recovering, so that you can succeed drug-free, living life on life’s terms;
  • education to arm you with knowledge about the disease of addiction and how to achieve real, sustainable recovery;
  • group sessions where you learn that you are not alone, and become part of a supportive network;
  • ongoing support to help you maintain your sobriety after leaving treatment.

In addition to treating the individual, our Family Programs also address the impact of fentanyl addiction on the entire family unit, and provide support to loved ones who have suffered the effects of living with and loving an addict.

Renascent also provides ongoing aftercare with our Continuing Care program, which supports clients through the transition back to home, school, or work, where you are learning to navigate life’s challenges in sobriety.

If you wish that you or a loved one could face the world without dependence on fentanyl or other drugs, call Renascent today. Our counsellors are available 24/7 to speak with you confidentially and answer your questions about fentanyl addiction and treatment, without commitment. It’s a first step toward learning the skills you need to live a sober, happy life.

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.