Addiction Treatment Centres in Vancouver: Are They Prepared To Handle The COVID-19 Outbreak

The essential nature of the services provided by addiction treatment centres means that they have to stay open despite the coronavirus. It is no longer new that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on public health all across the globe. To date, there have been over a million confirmed cases of the virus. With testing measures becoming more widespread, those numbers are expected to go up over the next few weeks – barring a small miracle.

Due to the coronavirus, all institutions that provide services that are not deemed essential have been closed. In Canada, social distancing measures have been put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus. However, addiction treatment centres in Vancouver remain open. But the question remains, are they prepared to handle the realities of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Today, millions of Canadians across the country suffer from some form of substance use disorder. Depending on how serious the substance abuse problem is, people with addiction face an endless cycle of visits to emergency rooms, addiction treatment centres and even correctional facilities like jails. As a result, it is very important that addiction services in Vancouver remain available and effective during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you wondering if it is safe to visit an addiction treatment centre near you? Perhaps, you are wondering if addiction services are equipped to protect you from contracting the coronavirus. In this article, we will explain how COVID-19 is affecting addiction services in Vancouver. More importantly, we will explore whether treatment centres are equipped to deal with the virus and the measures that need to be taken to prevent the spread.

Related article: Things to Avoid During Addiction Recovery

How COVID-19 Is Affecting Addiction Services in Vancouver

Addiction services in Vancouver are run by people like yourself. For starters, addiction treatment can not be dispensed automatically or with the use of delivery services. Effective treatment requires experts to get up close and personal with their patients, discussions and regular therapy sessions. With the social distancing measures that have been put in place in Vancouver, this has become doubly harder.

Firstly, it is proving difficult for addiction treatment experts to move around within the city of Vancouver. With the quarantine and curfew measures in place, it has become harder to get from work to home and back again. This is one of the major ways through which COVID-19 has affected addiction service in Vancouver. 

Another way through which the pandemic is affecting addiction services is in the dispensation of drugs necessary for treatment. As much as counselling, motivation, group support and accountability are a part of addiction treatment, so is medication. As part of addiction treatment, some people have to take certain drugs and medication to control the urge to use different substances.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is affecting the distribution of these important drugs. This is due to the restriction in movement and the reduction in the workforce available for proper distribution. As a result, addiction services in Vancouver are having to find alternate means of getting medication and treatment across their patients.

Why Addiction Treatment Centres Have To Stay Open

Addiction treatment centres have to stay open because addiction can’t be paused. Right now, as a result of COVID-19, the movies are closed. The malls are also closed. Music festivals and sporting events have also been cancelled. However, addiction can’t be stopped, just like that. For people that require addiction treatment in Vancouver, COVID-19 is one more thing to worry about. And even that is not as important as getting effective treatment.

To put this in perspective, we will use opioid withdrawal as a case study. Opioid withdrawal is a painful part of addiction treatment. More importantly, it can’t be avoided. However, with the right medication, painful withdrawals can be prevented. Methadone and buprenorphine are two drugs that can be used to prevent painful opioid withdrawals. However, the issue is that these drugs can only be dispensed daily. Due to a history of drug abuse, they can’t be provided to the people that need them in bulk. This is why addiction services in Vancouver need to stay open — to be able to provide treatment to those that need it.

Are Addiction Treatment Centres in Vancouver Prepared to Handle the Virus?

If you are wondering whether you risk contracting COVID-19 by visiting an accredited addiction treatment centre, the answer is no. However, the keyword is “accredited”. Over the past few weeks, reputable, accredited treatment centres have adjusted their services to combat the spread of the virus. In this section, we will show you the measures that addiction centres in Vancouver are taking to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Screening Before Arrival

A screening step has become an important part of the services provided by different addiction treatment centres in Vancouver. This step is also vital to prevent healthy people from coming in contact with those that may have been exposed to the virus.

Here at Addiction Healing Centre, we are going the extra mile by taking the time to ask both new and old patients a few questions before admittance. These questions revolve around recent travel history, possible symptoms and pre-existing issues. With these screening measures, it is possible to ensure that those who may have been exposed to coronavirus are transferred to government-controlled isolation and treatment centres. 

Waiting Room Precautions 

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, addiction services in Vancouver are changing their waiting room procedures. Visitors are encouraged to sit at least 6 feet apart from one another. Additionally, hand washing and cough etiquette are now being practiced in waiting rooms across the city to prevent the spread of the virus.

Expanding Access to Medications

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that there are different medications that have to be received daily to help cope with the realities of addiction treatment. In Vancouver, measures are being put in place to make sure that patients have access to more of these medications at once. 

Depending on patient history and the severity of the addiction, addiction services are now dispensing up to two weeks worth of these medications at once. This step is necessary to reduce the rate at which people have to move around in search of essential addiction medication.

Change in Group Therapy Procedures

A good number of addiction treatment centres in Vancouver use behavioural therapy to boost long-term recovery from addiction. However, these therapy sessions usually take place in groups and small spaces to foster a feeling of togetherness, support and “safe space”.

However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, addiction services are changing their procedure with regards to group therapy. Individual therapy sessions are now being encouraged with social distancing being practised between the therapist and patient.

Implementation of Telehealth Treatment

Now more than ever, addiction services in Vancouver are implementing technology in the disbursement of their services. This means that check-in sessions, therapy sessions and more are now being conducted via video calls. This measure is especially important for people who are currently self-isolating or under self-quarantine yet need addiction treatment. 

Regular Disinfection of Treatment Facilities

Finally, to better cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, addiction treatment centres have incorporated disinfection into their daily routines. Surfaces such as tables, stairwell handles, elevator buttons, door handles, chairs and more are cleaned daily using disinfectants. Additionally, both medical and non-medical staff are being enjoined to wash their hands regularly. Hand sanitizers are also being made available at addiction treatment centres in Vancouver.


No institution was fully prepared for the outbreak of COVID-19. However, addiction treatment centres in Vancouver are modifying their services drastically to stop the spread while still providing effective treatment to those that need it.

Here at Addiction Healing Centre, we are following all of the measures that were discussed in the previous section. This means that we can provide addiction treatment while preventing the spread of the disease at the same time. 

Do you need help dealing with substance abuse? Perhaps you need to talk to addiction treatment experts. Please contact us immediately! We are open.

Related article: Choosing an Addiction Treatment Centre

How Casual Playing in the Casino can Lead to Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a serious problem. But before it starts to cause issues in your life, it actually starts out as a harmless game. Have you ever bet on a basketball game against your friends to see who’ll win? Or took a chance and rolled the dice in a casino? 

That’s gambling. But, what is gambling to be exact? By definition, Gambling is wagering something of value on a situation with an unpredictable result to win a prize.

Most people gamble for fun. You can do it in casinos, in sports events, with your friends, and even online. As for the prizes, it could range from money, properties, or even as simple as favours. But, gambling also has a dark side. It could be highly addictive, especially for some people. 

You may ask, “How could that be addictive if you’re not taking in any chemicals like in drugs or smoking?”. Exactly. We’re here to find out how and why there is gambling addiction. But first, what is a Gambling Addiction?

Related article: Activities for Problem Gamblers: How to Deal with Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction, or pathological gambling, is gambling behaviour that causes disturbances in any crucial area in life be it physically, socially, and mentally. Decades ago, the psychiatric community considered it to be an impulse instead of an addiction. Only in recent years has it been recognized as an addiction due to new insight into the biology of addiction.

Treatment is now needed more than ever because gambling has become a norm and is now more convenient than before. Numerous surveys have found out that there is an estimated count of 2 million people in North America who have a gambling addiction and around 20 million individuals have already found the habit to greatly affect their work and relationships.

What’s in Gambling?

But what makes gambling addictive and how does it hook people to keep on gambling? There could be many reasons. It could include stress, financial problems, or even family history. Here are some more reasons explained in some detail.

Beginner’s Luck

Winning in games always feels good. But imagine this: winning on a game of chance that you haven’t had much experience before and winning big. How awesome would that feel? Amazing right? That feeling of euphoria is exactly what hooks people to gamble more. Players would think that winning is easy, especially if it happens earlier in their gambling life.

Global Gambling

The internet has given everyone access to a lot of things from the comfort of their own homes, gambling included. With this, a person can have access to gambling anywhere and anytime. But, it’s not just that. Gambling only happens in casinos before and that could put off people, especially if it’s far away. But now, you can do it privately in your home with your friends

What Happens in the Brain

In a study from the 1980s, it was suggested that people who were born with a smaller amount of the chemical norepinephrine were more likely to be addicted to gambling because it compensates for the disproportion of chemicals. High levels of excitement, like in gambling, can cause the brain to produce more of the chemical.

As mentioned earlier, gambling addiction was not even considered as an addiction in the 1980s. It was originally put under impulse-control disorders (ICD) alongside illnesses like pyromania and kleptomania. But with several studies in psychology and neuroscience, it was determined that gambling had more similarities with drug addiction than formerly perceived.

Inside our brain is a group of nerves known as the reward system that connects different regions of the brain that are involved with memory, motivation, and pleasure. It releases a chemical known as dopamine when we do stuff that helps us reproduce or be alive. Dopamine gives us a feeling of satisfaction and incentivizes us to make a habit of the thing we did.

When intaking drugs such as cocaine or meth, the brain is being flooded by dopamine which makes the user feel extreme levels of euphoria. With each use of the drug, the brain adapts and creates less of the chemical and develops a tolerance to it leading to people needing a more substantial amount just to get high.

What research has shown us is that drug addicts and pathological gamblers have similar tendencies for reward-seeking. When substance addicts require increasing amounts to get high, so too are gambling addicts when it comes to going for riskier activities. 

Similarly, both problem gamblers and drug addicts experience symptoms of withdrawal when separated from the excitement or drug that they grew accustomed to. Studies have also suggested that there are individuals who are particularly susceptible to both drug and gambling addiction because their reward system is underactive.

Redefining Boundaries

Understanding the phenomenon that is gambling addiction has redefined the term addiction. Scientists used to think that addiction could only happen when a person is dependent on a chemical. The new definition is when a person is repeatedly pursuing a gratifying experience regardless of major consequences.

That experience could be the intense high from cocaine or meth or the thrill of betting everything on the line in a poker game. Scientists have concluded that anything we do can alter the brain. It makes sense that behaviours that have high rewards, like gambling, can change the brain and the body.

Consequently, psychiatrists and therapists have found that problem gamblers respond better to treatments that are used for addiction compared to tactics for subduing compulsions. Medications for drug addiction has also proven to be more effective compared to medicines used for impulse-control disorders.

Sadly, researchers have estimated that around 80 percent of gambling addicts don’t look for treatment. And of the 20 percent that does go for treatments, 75 percent of them return to their gambling ways. 

Related article: Behavioural Therapies for Gambling Addiction

What Makes People Keep Come Back to Casinoes?

A casino is a recreational place or facility that has different types of gambling. People play and gamble in the casino because they want to distress, have fun, and hope to win prizes. The experience of fun and excitement in a casino makes the people keep coming back.

According to most surveys, people gamble because they feel thrilled and they feel like winners. It is an activity that gives pleasure because of the chance of winning money. We play in a casino sometimes because we want to have fun with friends and family. 

Some play and gamble to try their luck and chances of winning. Playing in a casino is for fun and excitement, but should be enjoyed casually. 

Several studies prove that playing or gambling in a casino can be addictive. Some psychologists are still studying why people won’t stop playing and gambling even if it’s not enjoyable anymore.  Casual-casino goers may also get addicted and may keep them coming back.

Casual-casino players tend to keep coming back when they’ve experienced winning. Some do so because they lose and want to get back what they’ve lost. Others wanted to try other games and try their luck. As they keep coming back to the casino, they won’t even realize that they are already hooked.

Some researchers found out that casinos are built to entice people so that they’ll return and play some more. Games in the casinos are being enhanced to provide more excitement to people and will make them stay longer to play. Casinos are also designed to attract people and tempt them to stay and play, besides its business after all. 

Some of the reasons why gambling looks compelling that even casual-casino goers become hooked and addicted are the following:

Near-miss effect and chasing your losses 

This effect can make the player feel more committed to the game. The player feels highly motivated to stay longer in the game more than what they intended. They say that near-miss and almost win makes the brain to respond to wins, and increases one’s desire to play more.

Feeling like a winner while losing 

An example of this is playing in slot machines, where the player thought or felt like they’ve won. There are games design to make losses disguised as wins, even if the person lost, it comes with sound and lights of victory to make it more convincing. Players will lose count of how many they’ve lost and thought that they’ve been winning. This kind of effect will make them stay hooked to the game.

Early big win 

Sometimes, a player experiences big wins at their early stage of gambling. A large amount of winning during the early stage of gambling makes them think that they will always land big wins than losing big. As they get more addicted to gambling, they won’t realize how much they’ve lost along the way.

Uncertainty as its reward in the brain

Reward uncertainty is playing a crucial role in attracting people to indulge in gambling. A neurotransmitter in the brain called Dopamine is released during exciting activities. Examples such as eating, sex, and doing drugs cause dopamine to be released.  

Lights and sounds egg you on

The lights and sounds are among the casino’s techniques to urge people to play more and stay longer. Studies show that these lights and sounds can trigger or urge people to gamble when associated with reward. These sounds and lights persuade people to keep gambling and play faster.  

Gambling and Becoming Addicted to It

Gambling is a common and most popular recreational activity enjoyed by adults around the world. Some states and other countries have limitations and restrictions governed by their laws. Certain people get highly addicted to gambling because of its compelling nature.

Some factors drive people to become addicted to gambling, examples of these includes:

  • Easy access to gambling – The casino has been more accessible to anyone nowadays. There is even an online casino now that anyone can access in just a click.
  • Failing to monitor wins and losses – A person gambling in casinos never tracks their wins and losses. Most of the time, they’re counting their wins which makes them play more to win more.
  • Personal Stress – In the same manner as turning to drugs, smoking, and alcohol, people also turn to gamble as an escape from troubles.
  • Financial Problems – There are people in a state of desperation with financial problems who believe gambling can be their way out. Unfortunately, most of the time they only make their situation worse. 
  • Victims of abuse – It is the same as the people who want to escape from stress. A person who has endured physical and mental abuse thinks gambling is the solution for the pain they are suffering.
  • Family history of gambling addiction – There is no medical proof that gambling addiction is genetic, some studies suggest that people seeing a family member or loved one going through gambling addiction are prone to become addicted as well.
  • Biological Composition – This factor is still being debated upon. Studies are still being conducted whether an individual gets addicted to gambling because of his biological make-up or social influence. Some studies say certain individuals are born with less norepinephrine to get easily addicted to gambling. Norepinephrine is a chemical secreted when experiencing a high level of stress or excitement.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

Getting addicted to gambling becomes a mental disorder. Experts say gambling is not a financial problem but an emotional problem with financial consequences. A person with gambling addiction have the following signs:

  • Thinking often about gambling and making plans to gamble
  • Gambling when feeling distressed
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
  • lying to conceal gambling activities
  • Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money spent to feel the excitement
  • Returning to gamble again after losing money
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control, or reduce gambling
  • Experiencing relationship or work problems due to gambling
  • Depending on others for money to spend on gambling

There are more risks to gambling addiction. Researchers say people who are addicted to gambling tend to become alcohol and drug addicts. These may cause more serious problems for a person. A person with gambling problems should seek help immediately.


People have their weaknesses and are sometimes become a reason for their downfall. Always think that everything you do in life, there are consequences. Think carefully before you do anything that you’ll regret in the end, it might be too late.

Gambling addiction is a serious illness and should be considered as such. It will cause drastic changes to your brain and body. Your work and social lives will be affected. Understanding how it works is the first step on the right path. If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, please don’t be afraid to seek help. Contact Addiction Healing Centre today!

Related article: Treating Gambling Addiction Through Canadian Gambling Addiction Centers

The Most Important Things You Need to Know about the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is the largest accredited facility in Canada that serves as an addiction and mental health teaching hospital. CAMH is also one of the top research centers not just in the country but on a global scale, specializing in the fields of mental health and addiction.  The institute uses a wide array of systems and combines them in their operations of research, education, clinical care, health promotion, and policy development. 

Related article: How Do Drugs Affect Your Mental Health?

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – A Teaching Hospital

As the name implies, a teaching hospital offers education, internship programs, training, and residencies for qualified students. Trainees are candidates who are applying for or planning to work in the area of health care and these professionals usually include psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, pharmacists, and occupational therapists. There are also laboratory technologists and social workers that come to the center in order to have practical and field experience.

CAMH Clinical Care and Services

The center offers accessible care with comprehensive sets of services for patients that have problems with addiction or mental illness. There are clinical programs as well as rehabilitation services and support to cater to the unique and diverse needs of patients, given their stages of lives and the illnesses they have. Some of the most basic services from the center include assessment and early intervention. There are also programs for family support, day treatment, residential settings, and continuing care. 

Related article: Choosing an Addiction Treatment Centre

Addiction Services

The Addiction Program provides specialized treatment options that respond to the different needs of individual CAMH clients particularly in terms of alcohol, gambling, drug, and other addiction problems. Some of the specialized services of the program include:

  • Day Detox or Outpatient Withdrawal Service
  • Eating Disorders and Addiction Services
  • Addiction Medicine Service
  • Nicotine Dependence Clinic
  • Medical Withdrawal Unit

Related article: Everything There is To Know About Addiction Detox

Complex Mental Illness

The Program is centred on clients that are grappling with persistent and serious mental ailments including mood disorders and schizophrenia. The services included in the program are inpatient, outpatient, acute/crisis, forensic services, and partial hospital. Some of the additional program assistance and clinics include:

  • Early Psychosis Unit
  • Home Intervention Program
  • Inpatient Care Schizophrenia
  • Mental Health and Metabolism Clinic
  • General Psychiatric Unit

Mood and Anxiety Services

The CAMH program offers inpatient and outpatient services to patients with anxiety and mood disorders such as those with major depression problems. Other key issues that are covered in this program include manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), and anxiety disorders. Services provided also include:

  • Mood and Anxiety Inpatient Unit
  • Day Treatment Services
  • Mood and Anxiety Ambulatory Services
  • Integrated Day Treatment Service

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health is the largest facility in Canada that provides help, treatment, and care with a patient/client-centred type of service. Visiting the facility is your first step towards an addiction-free lifestyle or getting reliable and effective treatment for major mental illnesses. It is a safe, healthy, and convenient place for clients and employees alike.

Related article: Benefits of Inpatient Addiction Rehab Centres

Treating Gambling Addiction

Treating Gambling Addiction Through Canadian Gambling Addiction Centers

What is gambling addiction? 

When one is addicted to gambling then he is more likely to be suffering from a condition called gambling addiction or problem gambling. It is a kind of behavior which causes different kinds of disruptions in various areas of life: social, psychological, physical or vocational. Compulsive or pathological gambling is a level of addiction which is characterized by expanding preoccupation with different sorts of gambling acts. It also denotes the frequent need to place more money as bet, irritability or restlessness when trying to stop chasing losses and control loss which is usually shown by continual gambling behavior despite the mounting, negative and serious consequences. 

Gambling in Canada 

In the country, gambling operations are exclusively under the control of territorial and provincial governments. Gaming is considered the country’s largest entertainment industry. In terms of size, gaming is similar to combined recorded music, professional sports and TV. This industry supports more than 135,000 fulltime jobs and over 267,000 overall total jobs. Gaming is also known as 15-billion-dollar industry in the country. 

The growth and expansion of gaming are caused by the continuous increase in slot machines and in 2006 to 2007 alone, about 70.7% of Canadians gambled. From this figure, 2.1% gambled online. The most popular gaming activities which are commonly played by adult gamblers include instant win tickets and lotteries. While online gambling has significantly increased during the past few years, it still proves to be the least common form of gambling problem in the country today. 

Problem Gambling or Gambling Addiction in Canada 

About 3.2% of Canadian adults are known to be affected by moderate to excessive problem gambling. This is like 3,200 out of 1000 Canadians are into this kind of behavioural problem. On the other hand, 2.2% of youth aged 15 to 24 years old are affected by moderate risk – that’s 2,200 for every 1,000 of Canadian youths that belong to this age bracket. Manitoba and Saskatchewan have the highest rates of moderate risk of problem gambling while New Brunswick and Quebec have the lowest rates in terms of gambling addiction or problem gambling. 

Meetings for Gambling Addiction in Canada 

In Canada, there are groups that conduct meetings to support spouses, close friends and families of compulsive gamblers. There are also groups which are composed of men and women fellowships that help each other in the recovery of their gambling addiction. When looking forward to joining a fellowship, the only requirement that you need to have is the desire to discontinue gambling. In most cases, there are no fees or dues involved in these groups. 

Gambling Education and Prevention 

Today, Canada has certain authorities that educate people about effective ways on how to stop gambling and how to prevent yourself from becoming a gambling addict. The Canadian Health Network, for example, comes with a section on youth gambling while certain authorities are intended for adult gambling addicts. With these solutions that are abundantly found in the country, gambling addiction among Canadians can be controlled easily and effectively the soonest possible time.