Wellness is a topic that resonates with our health care teams at Advanced Home Care Services, particularly as it relates to our role as a principal healthcare staffing agency. What is typically not considered, however, is the impact that substance abuse can have on wellness. How do we approach a relationship that is being affected by drug or alcohol problems? And how do we identify the warning signs?

Let’s deconstruct the dynamic of substance abuse. It refers to the deliberate act of using alcohol, illegal drugs, or medicine in an unsafe way…and it can lead to true addiction. The condition of being addicted describes the loss of control over drug use or the loss of insight into when to stop. Addiction can be physical, wherein an individual’s body becomes dependent on the drug and requires increasing doses to experience the same effect. Sudden cessation of using the drug can cause debilitating, physical withdrawal symptoms. Addiction can also present as a psychological condition, causing a person’s mind to crave the feeling created by the drug, and causing severe emotional discomfort when they stop using the drug.

Research has shown that addiction is a brain disorder – just as life-threatening as heart disease, diabetes, or emphysema. And as with other chronic illnesses, addiction can have significant periods of relapse and recovery. Although not always easy to recognize, identifiable signs of substance abuse might include the negative effect on the person’s relationships with family and friends, work, physical and mental health, finances, and even the development of legal issues. Unfortunately, family and friends of substance abusers tend to be dramatically impacted by this behaviour, and can experience feelings of resentment, anxiety, irritability, frustration, embarrassment, guilt, and even depression or social isolation. They may eventually become an enabler or co-dependent by “covering” for the problems caused by the substance abuser and can become obsessed with trying to control the abuser’s drug use and dysfunctional behaviour.

Raising awareness of the complicated and fraught issue of substance abuse is important, but without action it becomes just another soapbox, lacking focus or impact. As a healthcare staffing agency with a focus on wellness and the role that it plays in supporting aging and disabled people, Advanced Home Care Solutions pays close attention to the impact of substance abuse on our most vulnerable. As part of their rigorous training, our health care professionals are equipped to recognize these types of issues and skilled in providing help through various referral systems. Today there are many types of treatment options available, ranging from educational classes to self-help, detox, outpatient, and in-patient programs.

At AHCS we believe that wellness is a core human right. We take deep pride in our exceptional healthcare staff and their commitment to facilitating wellness – in all its many forms – for both our community care clients and as full and part-time support workers for care facilities.

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