Archive for November, 2010
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Cultivating a more ’spiritual’ life can lead to greater peace of mind, less stress and better health.
Stress has long been associated with increased risk for illness including serious health problems such as heart disease. The reason? Stress, particularly if it is chronic or prolonged, can weaken the immune system. It can also lead to excessive use of alcohol and drugs which decreases productivity, depression and a lower quality of life in general.
While a certain amount of stress is inevitable (and to some degree, it can be argued, a positive force for motivation), healthier lifestyle habits — such as regular exercise, a nutritious diet, adequate sleep and strong social connections — can help you to manage dangerous levels of stress without using alcohol or drugs as a means of lessening your level of stress.
Another way to relieve stress, experts say, may have something to do with spirituality. While studies on the effects of religious belief and prayer on health and healing have produced mixed results, experts say that living a more ‘spiritual’ life can lead to better stress relief and overall mental health.
So what exactly is spirituality? While it can mean different things to different people, at its core, spirituality is generally thought to be what helps to give a person’s life context. It is not necessarily connected to specific religious worship or belief, but instead is the sum total of a person’s individual value system, connections with others, and search for life’s meaning. Spirituality can be manifested in a variety of ways including religious observance, meditation, prayer, family life, nature, music or art.
How is it good for you?
Spirituality offers a myriad of benefits for stress relief and overall mental health. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can help by:
Providing a sense of purpose. Cultivating your spirituality can help you define what is most meaningful in your life. And if you are able to identify and stay focused on what’s truly important to you, it becomes easier to put things that are less important in perspective and thereby, reduce stress.
Facilitating a connection to the world. If you feel you have a purpose in the world, you’ll feel less isolated and solitary, even if you’re alone. Feeling a part of a greater whole not only provides a sense of inner peace, but it also helps you to release responsibility — and worry — for things you have no control over.
Expanding your social support network. Whether you express your spirituality by attending a church, mosque or synagogue, in your family life, by volunteering in your community, or by taking walks with a friend through nature, this sharing can help to build and strengthen relationships. Strong social connections have been linked with less stress, as well as improved health and longevity.
Leading a healthier life. People who consider themselves spiritual are not only less stressed, but they appear to be able to heal faster from illness and addiction.
Ways to cultivate spirituality
Looking for a more fulfilling spiritual life? Try these 4 tips:
Seek inspiration. Read inspirational books, stories or essays to help you evaluate different life philosophies. Try to connect with others whose spiritual lives you admire — and don’t be shy about asking questions about how they found their way to a more fulfilling spiritual life. Keep a journal to record your thoughts and insights.
Think positive thoughts. Even during difficult times, it’s important to try to maintain an optimistic outlook and to see the good in people and in yourself. Studies have shown that people with a ‘positive emotional style’ are not only happier, but do better at warding off stress and illness. Try to focus on positive steps to find solutions to your problems, such as talking to a trusted friend or advisor.
Reach out to others. Life, at times, can seem overwhelmingly busy, but make it a priority to nurture your relationships with family and friends. Contribute to your community by volunteering. If you’re feeling anxious or stressed, don’t suffer in silence. During difficult times, it’s particularly important to reach out to your network of friends, family, co-workers and other people for practical help or a sympathetic ear.
Practice relaxation techniques. Get in touch with your inner self — and reduce stress at the same time — with good relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep-breathing exercises and meditation. Or simply give yourself a relaxing evening by turning off the news and your cell phone, and tuning into a good book or your favorite relaxing music.
These are just a few thoughts and suggestions to consider instead of turning to alcohol or drugs. As well these are options to use to maintain your recovery from addiction.
Brenda Herzog B.A.Psych.,ADLC, Bs.SAAC
*information source Mayo Clinic studies on stress and addiction
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
After 21 years of using and abusing drugs, I found myself hopelessly in need of help if I was to go on living. My career as a professional substance abuser had come to an unexpected end. Shortly after I realized I could get the help I needed I found myself on a plane headed across the Country. My life had become a foggy haze over the last decade. I went through the motions of my daily life hoping a miracle would happen and save me from the trenches of my zombie- like existence. I thought I was doing fine up until then, I still had my business of 10 years and I still had a few superficial material items, I thought to myself “ I haven’t lost it all…yet”. But I had really lost the most important thing a long long time ago. Me. My 42 days at turning point have literally erased all the guilt, pain, and self hate that I had carried around for over 20 years. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the transformation I’ve undergone. My success story is one I could write a thousand different ways but in short it is my birth and the beginning of my life. Chris
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
I came to turning point after relapsing with Cocaine after roughly 4 ½ - 5 years clean. I had previously participated in counseling and rehabilitation. What I have learned here about myself is going to be invaluable over the remaining years of my life. I am now aware of my emotions and aware of how they can dictate my behavior “if I allow them to”.
One of the best realizations I have come to is that I don’t have t go this alone, as I always assumed. The two year aftercare, even though I haven’t yet started it, will be my support and safe venue to open up about my new experiences. This program has allowed me to get much healthier in mind and body, which is a huge weight, lifted of my back. All I can do now is have a positive outlook on my daily interactions and I know I’ll be alright. A.W.
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
I am writing this not to persuade or to dissuade anyone from taking or not taking any prescription medications. It is purely my experience with the prescription drug Venlaflaxine (Effexor) and I believe that the more knowledge one has, the more informed decision they are able to make.
About 4 years ago I hit an incredibly rough patch in my life. My doctor, who is also a long time friend, told me that there are 7 indicators of stress that doctors are supposed to watch out for in patients. Any single one of them is a sufficient reason for a person to have a mental health crisis or reaction. Apparently I was simultaneously dealing with 5 of the 7.
I had been laid off from a job that I had just won the top sales person of the year in Canada for. I guess that doesn’t account for much when they are giving out 1700 lay off packages at the same time. I was in the midst of a steadily worsening divorce (relationship indicator). My ex-wife moved my four children 5 hours away from me. I had left a strict religion that I had been part of for 30 years and with it lost most of my social and friend network. I also was on the verge of bankruptcy and was about to lose 3 properties that I owned.
I crashed pretty hard and went into a deep depression. I went to see my doctor who, because of some of the things I said I was feeling, put me on what I later found out was a rather strange concoction of drugs. I of course trusted that he knew what was best for me at the time and I took them without really thinking much of it because I wanted to feel better and start getting back on my feet.
I saw another doctor who immediately took me off of two of the drugs and left me on Effexor which is very commonly used to treat depression and that family of mood disorders. The first couple of weeks I didn’t really notice much other than some side effects of an upset stomach and various other seemingly minor things when compared to, in my mind, the possibility of getting back to “normal”, whatever my new normal was going to be and feeling better again.
After about three weeks I started to realize that I wasn’t feeling quite as crappy as I had been. I definitely was not feeling any better, but I wasn’t feeling worse either. Once again, a small victory but at least I seemed to be moving in the right direction towards recovery.
By some small miracle, in this time I had reconnected with on old friend from high school who I am happy to say is now my wife. For some reason she took pity on me and my situation and was there as support and comfort through the recovery.
I noticed as time went on that my moods seemed to improve, but only to a point. I could feel the feelings of happiness start to build inside of me but then I could feel the medication kick in and only let the feelings go so far and it was like an automatic emotional choke or dampener turned on inside of me and I could only feel so much. It also worked the same with negative feelings as well (except for anger, I still could feel that one very powerfully), but the “blues” seemed to not be as bad either. The best way I can describe the experience is to imagine in your mind a roller coaster. The highs and lows represent normal emotions. While on Effexor, imagine a roller coaster where all of the tops are cut off about half way up and all of the dips and valleys are cut off halfway down…it is like your emotions are only allowed to operate within a set parameter and anything above or below are squashed by the drugs. And you can feel it happening. There is a certain emotional numbness that you get use to operating.
After about 8 months of feeling this way I started to get tired of it and frustrated. I was not feeling happy. I was not miserable either, I just was…
I knew it was the medication and I knew it was doing its job, and I knew that as long as I was on it I would continue to feel that way I was. I started to research on line at what people were saying about the medication and was alarmed to read what people were saying about their experiences when they tried to come off of the medication. Some said that they had tried to come off slowly and cut back over time but even that method seemed to have varying degrees of success. I found studies on line that said that coming off of Effexor was as difficult as coming off of some of the more powerful illegal drugs. I realized I was in a bit of trouble. I read articles that basically said that if it was better once you were on Effexor that you should just stay on it for life.
I decided the best thing for me was to go off cold turkey and just get it over with. All I know is that for me, that was one of the worst experiences of my life.
I remember the being off of the drug for about 18 hours I was going into my second night. I had really missed my first scheduled dose. I cramped up and got the sweats and was nauseous and was in and out of the bathroom all night with the dry heaves. The absolute worst thing of all, and I can still feel it when I think about it was the shocks that started to go through me. It was literally as though someone had hooked wires up to my head and kept flicking the switch on and off over and over again causing me to feel like I was being electrocuted on the inside of my brain and though out my whole body. I remember texting my friend and now wife at about 3 am and telling her that I expected to be dead in the morning. In no way was I trying to be melodramatic, I really truly believed that I was dying. It was one of the longest most painful nights of my life. I made it through the night. The symptoms continued strongly for about three days where I felt sick and weak but they lessened, except for the shocks. They continued very strongly for the better part of a week and did not go away for almost a month.
I have talked to others who are on the medication and they have said that if they miss a dose, they know it because the shocks start with them too.
I don’t know how to feel about the drugs. I realize that they helped me to turn the corner and start regaining my life back a little bit. I also realize that had I stayed on them that I would have been functioning more or less as a zombie but I would have been functional. To me, that is not what life is about, we are not here only to exist. We live in a beautiful and marvellous world and we have to have our emotions available to us to discover the beauties and treasures that are all around us and to be able to recognize and enjoy the relationships that are in your life.
Knowing what I know now and what I went through, even with all of the events that I was going through at the time, I can honestly say that I would choose not to go through the experience of coming off Effexor again. I would look for alternate methods and strategies to work through my issues. That would be my preferred way of dealing with any issues. Or as crazy as it is to say, I might just stay on it forever if I had to go on it again…something that I hope never has to be a possibility. In no way do I blame my doctor or think he did anything wrong. He did what he was supposed to do under the system he works in.
I would like to say that I am totally recovered and that life is smashing and great, but it is still full of challenges and obstacles. My ex wife is moving further away with my children and causing chaos and destruction wherever she can. I am in the process of making a major change in my career again. I am remarried to a great and wonderful woman who puts up with a lot. I discovered that I have friends and family who truly love me. And I can happily report though that despite all of the challenges and stress I have been under, that I am overall coping better with it and I have not been on any sort of medication since I came off of the Effexor and that is how I plan on staying.
Disclaimer: Turning Point does not recommend taking yourself off of prescription medications cold turkey, it is recommended that you seek medical assistance to be weaned slowly and safely off of these types of medication.
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Is it just me, or has anyone else in Canada noticed the absence of government support for successful substance abuse and addiction rehabilitation centres in Canada? Living here in Alberta, I am sickened and saddened by our governments, both Provincial and Federal, lack in recognizing the need to financially assist people suffering addiction.
In Alberta alone, the number of addicts that cannot afford help is staggering. They have the choice of free or low cost facilities that are no more than a roof over their head and a dirty mattress to sleep on. Our government does not see this as a problem and arrogantly looks at this as a solution! The Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission offers medical detox in only two places in the province, Edmonton and Calgary each have one centre for the thousands of addicts in our province.
What this says to me is that the government’s solution is to hide the problem of addiction rather than fund licensed and insured programs that would offer real help as a start to addressing addiction.
What is very shocking to me is that the AA/NA/CA based programs have success rates that range from 2 to 10%. With the ever increasing severe addiction to prescription drugs such as oxycontin, why is our government not stepping in to do something to help? How sad that anyone can see a Doctor for some form of pain and within minutes, walk out of a medical clinic with a prescription for an opiate based drug that will cause addiction in no time at all.
Imagine, a young man hurts his back, has severe pain, so he sees his doctor. With the prescription he receives, he will be addicted within weeks. Did he wake up that first day with pain and say “I am going to see my doctor and become a drug addict”? The worst part is this young man will start to use more than he is prescribed and start going from doctor to doctor as his addiction level increases. He will eventually get flagged in the system and not be able to receive prescriptions from any doctor and not be offered help for his addiction. He will have to turn to the streets to buy his oxycontin illegally. His life has gone from having back pain to one of addiction. He will eventually lose everything he has because of this addiction. Why you may ask, because he cannot afford to get the kind of rehabilitation that will really help his addiction. He has spent everything he has to feed the addiction. He will try to seek help and be told he can go into AADAC for medical detox and then go to counselling and AA meetings.
With the seriously low success rate this young man does not stand a chance of staying clean. His doctor is not liable because the medical information shows he had severe back pain. The drug manufacturer is not responsible, they just create the drug. Who will help this young man? Will he end up in the legal system for illegal possession, or will he lose his life to an overdose?
This is just one example of the problems faced by so many, not just in Alberta, but Canada wide. What are we going to do about his CANADIANS? I ask you to think long and hard because tomorrow it could be your son, daughter, husband, wife, sister or brother.
Brenda Herzog, B.A. Psych., ADLC, Bs.SAAC
Turning Point West
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Taylor Argent Legacy Foundation
“THOUGH NO ONE CAN GO BACK AND MAKE A BRAND NEW START,
ANYONE CAN START FROM NOW AND MAKE A BRAND NEW ENDING”
Its 4:00 am in the morning for the 100th time, a car drives by. You leap out of bed, as you weren’t sleeping anyway and run to the window, your heart racing. Never mind, it just kept going, yet another false alarm. As you turn around you see a shadow watching you from the couch, sitting in silence. It is your wife. There is no need to ask her what she is doing, as you know. The streaks running down her cheeks tell it all. All you can do is sit, blame yourself, blame each other, and blame life. Where did we go wrong, why did this happen to us, we are good people? You think back at what once was and your heart stutters as you retrace your steps. You are tired and exhausted. Your heart bleeds as it has been ripped open for the hundredth time. You have tried everything from house arrest, to psychologists, counselors, new schools, day treatments, short term recovery programs, friends, family, the police, the hospitals, the doctors, yet there is nothing. You are helpless. The sneaking out has now turned into walking out. The phone calls have stopped. You hear a siren and take a deep breath for you think the phone will ring any moment, the bearer of bad news. You are defeated and do not know what to do. Your family, your marriage, your world has fallen apart. All you can do is hold hands and cry for you know the outcome. You are ashamed, you are embarrassed, and you are helpless. You are alone.
It’s 5:00am and a car drives by for the 100th time. It stops and you hear a door slam. You know what’s coming, for you have seen it before. You are angry, sad, and happy for you know that the person walking through the door is not your child but the shell of what once was. It is a sickness, a lost soul and you know what must be done, but you’re hands are tied. You are a spectator forced to watch, eyes wide open. Today is different though. Today there is a cry for help, “I cannot do this anymore, please do something, help me”.
As a mother and father, there is a glimmer of light. Today we will save our child; yes son, I promise today we will get you the help.
You don’t sleep, you watch the clock and when the time comes, you are first in line, pleading with a counselor that today is the day when my child has come home. Today is the day we saved our child from the only fate that this evil addiction delivers. You feel elated and actually smile. It is at this moment, the counselor tells you that yes, we can get your loved one help and yes, we will put your loved one in a treatment facility…I think we can admit him in maybe 2 or 3 months. The world spins, you are numb and the walls are closing in for you know that in 2 or 3 months, your child could be dead. The counselor knows this as well but her hands are tied for the system is overloaded. Addiction is rampant, numbers are on the increase. This does not ease the pain of the blade that has just been thrust into your heart. The counselor sees this and informs you that there is an alternative in private care where admittance is immediate. Yes, that is the answer, for you know and they know that care must be immediate. There is still a chance after all.
You race home, grab the phone and dial the number. It is explained to you exactly what the program consists of, the length of stay and that they can get him in right away. You tell them thank you and how soon can I be there. Before you hang up, you ask them as it is a private facility how much? You are stunned; your head swims with the number. You hang up. There is nothing left.
A car drives by for the hundredth time. You know she is sitting up crying. You join her, hold hands and cry together.
This might not be you but I guarantee this is happening right now in your neighborhood.
Kim and I wrote this story 3 years ago but at the time felt it was too personal, too private and one that only belonged to us. When we finally found the courage to tell it last November at our annual gala, immediately afterwards a mother slowly approached us, looked up and…”That was me you were talking about sitting in that chair that was my son”. Later that same night, another family told Kim and I of their harrowing ordeal just weeks before when one night they received a call from the RCMP who were at the hospital with their child who had just suffered an overdose of Ecstasy and might not make it.
We could easily be your friends or your neighbors. Maybe we are the other parents on your child’s sports team, the ones you see at your children’s school. We are parents just like you, loving, caring, nurturing.
What is the gift of hope?
The dictionary describes hope as, “feeling of expectation and desire for something to happen”. As parents, need we say more? After years of struggle, heartache and defeat, we need not you tell how important this word is in one’s life. How many of us have asked for a second chance. Today, we have the power to grant that wish.
This is why we started this Foundation to save a life, to help one family. We are so thankful today that we had Taylor back for a couple of months. We cannot imagine how much harder it would be if we could not have been able to afford to get into treatment immediately. In the last 3 years we have met families in our home, met them at meeting places coming in from Edmonton to Calgary, Rimbey to Stettler and all places in between, we have picked up these lost souls from the hospital and transported them directly to treatment after they have all but given up after being told the waiting list will be months for Government facilities. We have stepped in when families have given up on them and will not financially help them anymore. Most of them are in their twenties and already have a hard time functioning in society today; all of them need help, all are lost and all of them are someone’s son, someone’s daughter. We stay in touch and follow up after treatment, to lend a supportive word, to give encouragement, to let them know they count.
In Taylor’s memory to date we have raised just over $100,000 and have helped change many lives. This does not include the people we have personally directed to a center for treatment that did not require financial aid but just needed to get their loved one into recovery, someone to talk to, some guidance, some support. This does not include those we have sat and talked with. Parents that needed to be told they are not alone in this, families that are suffering themselves at this very moment. Kim and I spoke openly and bared our souls at Taylor’s funeral. That night we were paid a visit by a distraught mother, whose family was on our path, living our very same nightmare, following just a few steps behind with their own child.
WE MAKE A LIVING BY WHAT WE GET BUT WE MAKE A LIFE BY WHAT WE GIVE.
To sit and watch families celebrate the graduation of their loved ones from treatment and hear their success stories breathed life into what seemed like an otherwise meaningless world.
The foundation itself has a mandate. To help those in need, to bring relief to families that are so desperately looking for help and to raise the public’s knowledge of the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs, many of which most of us know little about. Every penny donated to this cause goes directly to help the individuals. We tell of our story and of the final outcome to the choices they are making. We show them we care and we offer what most having been missing for so long… a hug.
Unconditional acceptance of each other is one of the greatest challenges that we humans face. Few of us have experienced it consistently; the addict has never experienced it – least of all from himself.
Over twenty young men and women, sons, daughters, mothers, sisters and brothers from right here in Alberta have been helped in the last 3 years. Numerous people and in turn families in distress were given relief and hope. To make a difference in one person’s life is a gift that everyone should feel, the gift of hope. Our goal is to have enough funds to not have to turn anyone away. Right now, we have limits to the funds available and so we are currently trying to focusing on young people under the age of 30 for they are our future, although we will turn our backs on no one. Our dream is one day never having to make that decision.
IF YOU THINK YOU ARE TOO SMALL TO BE EFFECTIVE, THEN YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN IN BED WITH A MOSQUITO.
Addiction is a disease that is rampant within our community; it has now reached out and touched each and every one of us in one way or another. We all need a second chance and to witness what this gift of hope can do and see the change in these young men & women from the shell that they once were to the sons & daughters once lost is one of great joy. This foundation could easily be called “families helping families”.
We might not be able to help everyone everywhere but we can help someone somewhere.
Charity is described as benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity; generosity and helpfulness toward the needy or suffering, aid given to those in need. It is through your kindness that perhaps we can help a family in need, a person wanting to make a change.
Please visit our website @ www.taylorargentlegacyfoundation.org
Mike and Kim Argent
Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Please help us by forwarding this message to your friends, family, neighbours, etc. and help spread the word about developmental assets and the impact they can have on the life of a youth.
Visit the Flamborough YMCA on Thursday, Nov. 18 from 9 – 11 a.m. and Friday, Nov. 19 from 7 – 9 p.m. to learn more about the 40 Developmental Assets. Find out about the many community resources available by visiting information booths set up by our community partners and support agencies. There will also be a free asset building workshop and free programs:
Thursday November 18 Friday November 19
Kinder Club (3-5 Years) 9:00-10:15 am Youth Centre (10-15 years) 7:30-9:30 pm
Kinder Club (18-36 months) 10:30-11:30 am
Grounded in extensive research in youth development, resiliency, and prevention, the Developmental Assets represent the relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risks and to thrive.
For more info go to www.focusonthe40.ca
Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
Turning Point now offers Ontario Standardized Assessments, a requirement for gaining access to government-funded substance abuse treatment programs. “A standardized assessment is a mandatory requirement for all government-funded treatment programs, and there are often lengthy waiting periods to get an assessment,” says John Vereecke, Turning Point founder. “Once you have an assessment, you are then placed on a waiting list for treatment.”
Turning Point assessments are accepted by all government programs, and can be booked within 48 hours. “Our fully qualified clinicians can help you better understand the issues you are facing, and the most appropriate treatment options for helping you to recover and rebuild your life.”
Assessments are valid for 90 days from the time they are issued. A fee of $349.00 will be payable prior to your assessment, which includes:
• Consultation with a qualified counsellor
• Comprehensive assessment including recommendations on treatment options
• Complete clinical notes to assist treatment professionals in helping you.
For information, or to book your Fast Track Assessment, call 1-877-523-8369.