A woman once asked me how many drinks her husband could have in a day before she should start to worry. She says he drinks three or four beers in the evening on work nights and a lot more on weekends when he doesn't have to go to work the next day.

Another client worries that his wife's three or four glasses of wine in the evening could be the beginning of alcoholism. She says alcoholism runs in the family.

Both clients were quite surprised to find their partners' alcohol consumption was well above what are considered low-risk drinking levels. I quote some information on safe alcohol consumption levels below. First, it would be good to name a few of the "risks" that go with drinking more than the Guidelines suggest as safe.


Many people have asked me about the initials after my name, ICADC. Thus, I thought it would be beneficial to write about what an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor (ICADC) is, what our role and function is, and who qualifies and oversees these Substance Abuse Professionals.


Definition of Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor:

An Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counsellor is a person primarily involved in assessing individuals who are experiencing problematic substance use, and then providing recommendations re a course of treatment.



There comes a point in which you realize there’s just no use in continuing to hurt yourself in this way. It may be a moment of realization when you see the way your children look at you, or a moment when you look at yourself and just ask ‘what happened to me?’ It’s the moment when you decide that addiction is no longer the path you need to follow. In many ways that is a critical moment. For some it will lead to an attempt to end their addiction – which if unsuccessful can lead deeper into a feeling of despair. However, for some it will be the moment you turn your life around and make a new start.

So, what factors make the difference between a successful recovery and painful addiction? The easy answer would be to say commitment. However, it doesn’t really matter how committed you are if you continue to be around the same people, with the same values and the same pattern of behavior.

A successful recovery does not happen by accident. It should be planned and you will need to demonstrate a changed value system. That’s really what the recovery process is all about. You are choosing that some behavior is simply no longer acceptable in your life, and as a result you will no longer tolerate it. To make this work, you are going to have to replace the unacceptable behavior with a series of new behaviors that are compatible with what you want your life to look like.

Of course, if you still believe that hurting people around you is ‘fun’ or in any way good, you are unlikely to have a successful recovery – whatever the recovery method is.  If waking up in a strange place with people you don’t remember meeting feels like a positive result, then you’re probably not ready to quit yet.

This is really about changing the belief system. The human body is actually amazingly good at knowing what it needs. The default position is one of good health. Learning to listen to this, and support our own instinctive desire for good health is easier than many people imagine. With the proper guidance you can return to this default position. Before long the belief system becomes one that encourages good health.

Recovering addicts who lapse often report a feeling of massively increased shame about what they are doing. This can lead further into depression if it is not acknowledged and responded to. When we experience feelings of shame it is our deepest instinctive self saying ‘this isn’t what I want to be!’  As we learn to listen to those feelings, and let them guide our actions, we very soon have no desire to hurt ourselves and loose any desire to use toxic narcotics. When one starts to follow our in built ‘emotional compass’, we are listening to our ‘instinctive self’. If we do those things that feel right, they generally are and we move in generally the right direction. If, however, we choose things that make us feel negative, or angry, then we are almost certainly moving in the wrong direction.

This is often more literal than people imagine. The person who occasionally has a few too many drinks is often a ‘Jolly Drunk’. But when you find the ‘Angry Drunk’ you are almost certainly dealing with a habitual drinker and someone who is using alcohol in a dangerously negative manner.

Many successful recoveries can be attributed to ‘a change of mind – I just grew out of it’, or ‘I got a wake-up call’. This is the moment that the belief system changes – a moment we are able to set up and initiate. It’s a moment that has to be surrounded by supporting activity.

Successful recovery depends on the addict adopting a new belief system founded on allowing the body to heal itself and end the use of addictive toxins. A planned approach to this, adopting multiple paths to increasingly good health is usually very successful. So, it’s not just about ending the use of an addictive narcotic. It’s about better nutrition, about drawing social boundaries and living by them, it’s about increasing exercise – and enjoying it! You don’t have to learn to run a marathon, but at least getting some basic physical exercise is hugely important. Most of all it’s about trusting yourself and going with what you instinctively know is right.

What can I do to prepare for recovery?

1. Ask yourself what physical exercise would be easy to introduce to your life. It doesn’t need to be much, but it should be something. For some it will be increasing their existing exercise regime by 15%, for others it will be taking a 20 minute walk every day during their withdrawal period. But it must be something. You should choose an attainable goal and have it in mind as a part of the recovery process. We live in perhaps the most beautiful city in the world - Vancouver. There are lots of scenic places to walk, jog, bike, roller blade, etc. Take advantage to the Vancouver lifestyle.

2. Look closely at your diet. List some of the things you need to remove from it. You don’t need to be a zealot – but you do need to acknowledge that continuing the same actions are likely to end up with the same poor result.

3. Examine the five closest people in your life. Do they exhibit the same behavior you are trying to remove. If so, it may be time to distance yourself from them. Vancouver is a big place with lots of healthy, interesting people . . . find them!

4. List all the people in your life that are associated with the behavior you are getting ready to drop.

5. List any physical ailments, however trivial, that have developed in the year leading up to the decision to end your habit and begin recovery. We’ll be needing that.

6. Set a date to talk to us. Then pick up the phone or email us. As Nike says "Just do it."



Cocaine is presently the most abused major stimulant in North America. A common myth is that cocaine is not addictive because it lacks the physical withdrawal symptoms seen in alcohol or heroin addiction. Cocaine has powerful psychological addictive properties. As more than one user has reflected, "If it is not addictive, then why can't I stop?" The trend in drug abuse in the Canada is presently multiple or poly drug abuse, and cocaine is no exception. Cocaine is often used with alcohol, sedatives such as Valium, Ativan, or heroin, as an upper/downer combination. The other drug is also used to moderate the side effects of the primary addiction. A common poly drug abuse problem, seen especially in adolescents, is cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana.

Drug abuse, chemical dependency, and addictive behavior spare no one and are spread throughout society. They do not respect age, profession, race, religion, or physical attributes.


Cocaine is a naturally occurring alkaloid usually extracted from the leaves of the coca shrub, which was originally found in the Andes Mountains of Peru and Bolivia. With its appreciation as a lucrative cash crop, it is now cultivated in Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, the West Indies, Ecuador, and Java. Coca leaves were mixed with lime and chewed by the Peruvian Indians as early as the sixth century to allay the effects of cold, hunger, and fatigue. It is still used as such as a gift from the Sun God.

Coca was later introduced to Europe, where the alkaloid cocaine was isolated. Its medicinal effects on depression, alcohol and morphine addiction, fatigue, and as a local anesthetic were discovered. However, these discoveries were not without cost to those who experimented with it. The result was addiction and dependency on the drug.

Freebasing involves the conversion of cocaine hydrochloride into cocaine sulfate that is "free" of the additives and nearly 100% pure. It is not water soluble and has a low melting point, so it can be smoked. The freebaser runs the risk of being burned by the conversion process because a highly volatile solvent, such as ether, is being used.

 Crack is extracted from coke using baking soda and heat-a relatively safe method compared with the ether technique. The waxy base becomes rocks of cocaine, ready to be sold in vials. This rock cocaine is also easy to smoke, the most common form of use in the streets. Because the freebase is resistant to destruction by heat, it can be smoked either in cigarettes, including marijuana cigarettes, or in "coke pipes." Smoking the freebase produces a more powerful effect more rapidly, but it is also more dangerous because the safe dose can easily be exceeded. A user describes the comparison: "Snorting coke is like driving 50 miles per hour. Smoking crack is like driving 150 miles per hour without brakes!"

Why cocaine becomes addictive:

Researchers supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse have identified a process in the brain that may help explain addiction to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. Their research indicates that repeated exposure to cocaine causes a change in genes that leads to altered levels of a specific brain protein. This protein regulates the action of a normally occurring brain chemical called dopamine. It is a chemical messenger in the brain associated with the cocaine's pleasurable "rush"-the mechanism of addiction.

Research with cocaine has shown that all laboratory animals can become compulsive cocaine users. Animals will work more persistently at pressing a bar for cocaine than for any drug, including opiates. An addicted monkey pressed the bar 12,800 times until it got a single dose of cocaine. If the animal survives, it will return to the task of obtaining more cocaine.

Treatment for cocaine in Canada comes in many different forms. There are good centres for cocaine treatment in Canada, and not so good places for treatment. It is important to choose a facility for cocaine treatment in Canada that suits the individual with drug abuse problem. Every individual is different, and a good program for cocaine treatment in Canada will be tailored to the individual.

What to expect at treatment:

Cocaine users in cocaine treatment in Canada are luckier than individuals who are addicted to sedatives, barbiturates, and opioids. Cocaine is a water-soluble substance; cocaine is not stored in the body’s cells. Detoxing from cocaine in Canada is mostly a mental and a psychological process, not a physical one.

Good programs for cocaine treatment in Canada will recognize cocaine addiction for the complex medical illness that it is. Cocaine treatment in Canada can be very successful, and the individual can go on to live a happy, fulfilling life.

Different kinds of treatment:

Because cocaine is so powerful and so addictive, inpatient cocaine treatment in Canada is often recommended by professionals as the best cocaine treatment in Canada because it provides addicts with a structured environment and immerses the individual in a total recovery environment. HeartQuest works in privileged  partnership with many Treatment Centres in Canada, and can facilitate a very timely admittance

Other kinds of cocaine treatment in Canada and individual can access for cocaine addiction are outpatient treatment programs or community self-help groups.

If you or someone you love needs help with cocaine addiction, cocaine treatment in Canada call us at 604.818.1771 or click here.


You should not stop drinking cold turkey if you’ve been drinking heavily for a period of weeks or months. This is because your body has adapted to the presence of alcohol and will go through withdrawal when the alcohol is taken away.

Instead of gritting your teeth and jumping on the wagon “cold turkey”, it’s really best that you have medical supervision during alcohol withdrawal, perhaps at a certified detox clinic or alcoholism rehabilitation centers. We outline the reasons below, and provide a list of risk factors for avoiding cold turkey alcohol cessation.

Alcohol Withdrawal Is Possibly Fatal

What happens when you stop drinking alcohol?  First, the body tries to seek homeostasis without alcohol.  During this period, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, scary and possible complications can arise.  This is why doctors do not recommend cold turkey withdrawal from alcohol, especially without medication or medical supervision. And even in cases of young healthy people, doctors medically supervise the detox.

The outcome of “cold turkey” treatments have not been established through scientific studies or evidence-based methods. Additionally, there are medications available for alcohol withdrawal, which help ease symptoms and make the experience more bearable. Plus, alcohol withdrawal is unpredictable and life-threatening complications are always possible. These complications are made more risky and you should not try to stop drinking cold turkey when you:

  • are in general bad health
  • are of increasing age
  • have been diagnosed with co-occurring medical, surgical, and/or psychiatric disorders
  • have consumed high amounts of alcohol in the weeks prior to treatment
  • have poor nutritional status
  • use medications (prescription, over-the-counter, or herbal)


Each of these factors can increase the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Proper medical management of alcohol withdrawal reduces the probability of withdrawal complications and can save your life.

Cases Which Require Medical Supervision During Detox

Additionally, there are other even more specific cases when you should definitely NEVER stop drinking cold turkey without medical assistance. Specifically, you should not stop drinking cold turkey if:

1. You are extremely intoxicated

When you are in the middle of alcohol intoxication, doctors need to monitor you in order preserve respiration and cardiovascular function until alcohol levels fall into a safe range. In other words, during a severe cass of intoxication, you can stop breathing or your heart can stop beating. Likewise, doctors need to monitor vital functions, protect breathing, and observe potential accidental sucking in of food particles or fluids into the lungs (aspiration), hypoglycemia, and thiamin deficiency.

2. You have been through withdrawal 3-4 times in the past

Doctors have noticed the appearance of severe withdrawal reactions in people who have experienced 3-4 previous alcohol withdrawals. In these cases, unless adequate medical care is provided, it is possible that you experience Complicated or severe medical withdrawal including: delirium, hallucinations, delusions, seizures, and/or disturbances of body temperature, pulse, and blood pressure.

3. You have a previous history of seizures or delirium tremens (DTs) during withdrawal

You should not stop drinking cold turkey if you have had seizures or DTs in the past. Instead, doctors can administer medications like benzodiazepine to help you avoid seizures and DTs. Why? Because untreated DTs or seizures may result in death and disability.

4. You have been diagnosed with co-occurring unstable medical and psychiatric conditions

Only young people in good health, with no history of previous withdrawal reactions, are considered for alcohol withdrawal without medication. Still, you need not go through detox without aid. Medications are available to help your body normalize to functioning without alcohol again.


The reasons why people drink beer, wine, and spirits are usually harmless at first.  But once your body builds an immunity (tolerance) to alcohol, and becomes dependent on alcohol, you have to address both medical and mental problems which compel you to drink.  Once your body is free from alcohol, the work of looking inside begins.  Got questions? Please leave them here. We’ll be happy to answer them.