How we can talk about alcohol addiction with our frontline workers: the key to success is access.

The pandemic has led to an increase in alcohol addiction.  In April, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found that 25 percent of Canadians between the ages of 35 and 54 reported an increase in the amount of alcohol they consumed during isolation, while 21 percent of people 18 to 34 were drinking […]

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Treatments and help

The pandemic has led to an increase in alcohol addiction.  In April, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction found that 25 percent of Canadians between the ages of 35 and 54 reported an increase in the amount of alcohol they consumed during isolation, while 21 percent of people 18 to 34 were drinking more during the lockdown.

Alcohol, drugs, and other forms of addiction are isolating conditions to begin with, made even more so when a global mandate to isolate is added to the equation. People with alcohol or substance use disorders and outreach workers say several factors have contributed to a surge in consumption during the pandemic: physical isolation amid lockdowns, concern for one’s future, and overall uncertainty about our day-to-day lives.

As an addiction counselor, I launched [email protected], an online therapy program, to address the higher rates of alcoholism, and provide support in a healthy and accessible platform. I founded [email protected] on the research-supported idea that recovery in the “real-world” leads to far better rehabilitation results. We help our clients learn the new skills and daily habits needed to lead lives free of alcohol in the comfort and privacy of their homes.

Do you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol?

You can have a problem with drinking and still not be an ‘alcoholic’. As a matter of fact, most of [email protected] clients do not meet criteria for alcohol addiction, but rather alcohol use disorder.  The difference is in terms of dependency – are you mild, moderate or severe?

To make it simple, we could define a problem with alcohol as follows: If you can’t stop after you started, then you might have a problem and that must be assessed by a professional. Currently, under COVID restrictions, people who had their drinking under control are relapsing as their coping mechanisms have been taken away (social settings, the gym, contact with family members), or they are in close contact with their stressors and unable to leave their homes for relief, therefore adding more pressure and stress to their emotions.

Recognizing an alcohol or substance disorder.

We work together to identify if the individual has a disorder or was just having a bad day. There are consequences to drinking and the behaviour that is affected with alcohol consumption, so we have to determine if this is an isolated incident or a recurring situation.

If you are asking yourself “do I have a problem”; that in itself is an indication that you might have one. If not, you wouldn’t be asking yourself.  Try to stop and/or monitor how much you drink. Use a journal to log 1 to 2 weeks of what and how much you drink every day. You may be surprised with what you learn. People often underestimate how much and how often they drink, but when they make a conscious effort to log the consumption for 1 to 2 weeks, they see just how much it actually adds up to and it is usually more than they intended, or ever before realized.

  1. If you have an intention and a plan to stop (say after two drinks) but you can’t, that’s an indication of a problem and a loss of control. If you’re keeping it a secret or hiding it from people – this is an indication of a problem and drinking disorder. 
  1. If you’re sneaking around or drinking by yourself, if you don’t feel comfortable opening a bottle in front of other people, if you feel guilty or ashamed, or you’re scared people will question or judge you, then you may have a disorder.
  1. If you are constantly looking for and finding excuses to drink alone instead of with other people in a healthy setting, then you may have a drinking disorder.

Frontline heroes are suffering in silence.

What mainstream media is not talking about, is how addiction is affecting our frontline workers who are at the forefront of some of the most stressful and traumatic situations, as part of their everyday norm. [email protected] has seen the effects on our frontline workers firsthand. We recognize that our frontline workers, heightened during a pandemic, need an outlet when they get home to mentally check out or deal with the hard situations they face each and every day.

Frontline workers are heroes, but they are also suffering. Quite often, suffering in silence due to the stigma and shame surrounding their mental health journeys. It is important to recognize and normalize the fact that it is not a weakness to be affected and traumatized by seeing people constantly hurt, suffering, and dying around you. A better question is, who wouldn’t be affected by this? Let’s focus on support rather than shame. [email protected] offers an effective and accessible means of getting the help needed to identify and treat alcohol dependency. Online, all the time, [email protected] is ideal for busy, overworked, tired, and overwhelmed frontline workers, who need confidential support navigating through their every day.

As counselors, the professionals at [email protected] have noticed a dramatic increase in alcohol consumption due to the pandemic among frontline workers. It’s easy to fall into a dependency or disorder as more people are alone at home, and no one is watching or monitoring their intake.

We have normalized the idea of going home after a hard day, or celebrating after a good day,  and “having a beer or glass of wine.” It’s typical for physicians, nurses, healthcare and emergency workers to unwind after work with a drink. But the unwinding may not end with one drink. For many, sleep is essential but it doesn’t always come easy, so alcohol is an immediate and quick solution to find relief. Coupled with difficulty staying awake during the day, this may lead to a reliance on drugs, closing the vicious cycle of dependency.

I am grateful that, during this pandemic, [email protected] has been able to offer a simple and effective tool to healthcare professionals to help with first, identifying a disorder and offering support when needed.

Coping mechanisms for frontline workers.

Every job should have hours allocated for mental health and wellness checks and treatment for their employees. While some companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), I simply do not believe it is enough. Professional support and assistance programs should be available to everyone in need, even without a regulatory EAP. The irony is that quite often it is those most in need, who do not have access to an EAP.

We need to remove the stigma and shame around needing help with stress and mental health. In this day and age, it is hard to believe that this hasn’t come to fruition yet. The key to success is having access to a trained counselor, like [email protected], immediately without a waiting list that some states or provinces have.

It is important to know that every time you talk about your trauma, the less it has a hold on you and the better your chances are for recovery. Lean on a program like [email protected], or other programs for your specific needs. They are built on platforms that are remote, online, confidential and have the structure for your day-to-day success.

Talk with your family and friends about what is happening – begin by removing the stigma and shame around your experience, take the first step towards your improved health and well being.

Professional therapy with certified counselors, in the palm of your hand.

[email protected] is a revolutionary approach to traditional alcohol rehab. While most programs require in-person participation, [email protected] places the path to recovery in the palm of your hand. Alcohol treatment is available to you wherever you are through our exclusive app. 

You shouldn’t have to choose between your responsibilities and your recovery. [email protected] provides a program that lets you balance both. Attend your alcohol therapy program online from the comfort of your own home so you can remain present for what’s important in your life.

Our unique programs bring alcohol therapy into the comfort of your own home, allowing you to incorporate your treatment plan with your existing schedule.

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