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January February 2014

Making PEACE First Things First: With Your Therapy or Sobriety?




or m i ng The Codependent Mind Transf

TOP 10 Waysto


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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR This New Year we are resolved to show compassion to ourselves, and others, no matter how ugly or political it things might get.


TOP 10 WAYS TO COPE The “Silly Season” is behind us, and now it’s time to find new ways to cope with whatever challenges we face in the year to come.


TRANSFORMING THE CODEPENDENT MIND Guest writer Darlene Lancer, author of “Codependency for Dummies” tells us how to transform our minds by first becoming aware.


THE HOLLYWOOD HYPOCRASY Where should we draw the line between entertainment and perpetuating dangerous trends?


QUESTIONS FOR DR. T You asked the questions and Dr. T answered: what is wet brain? And why won’t a psychiatrist talk to me?


BILL WILSON: VITAMIN STORY Did you know Bill Wilson was a firm believer in vitamin therapy? Learn about his experience with a vitamin that changed his life.


w w w. re cove r y w i re m a g a z i n m



Januar Februa y ry 2013

FIRST THINGS FIRST; THERAPY OR SOBRIETY? In the beginning it can be challenging to decide which is more important, some therapy or sobriety. Dr. T. helps us work through it.


MAKING PEACE WITH YOUR PLATE Guest writer Robyn Cruze, coauthor of “Making Peace with Your Plate”, helps us set our final food resolution!


I CAN’T MAKE THEM BETTER! Our resident family columnist talks about her struggle with detachment and self care during the everyday struggles with an active addict.











Aw ih D r. T



LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Issue 8, January/February 2014 Editor In Chief Dee Christensen Contributing Writers Darlene Lancer JD, MFT Kimberly-Robyn Covey Dr. Vera Tarman M.D. Robyn Cruze MA Aakilah Ade R.N. Editing Dianne Piaskoski Cover Illustrations mikaelnybom Veer Illustrations David M Schrader Veer Andrey Kuzmin Veer Dazdraperma Veer cienpies Veer davisales Veer Photography Liam Philley Printed 6 Times Yearly: January/February, March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October, November/December Mailing Address 360A Bloor Street West P.O. Box 68506 Walmer Toronto, ON M5S 3C9 1.416.922.9227 Subscription Rates We do not profit from the sale of this magazine. Shipping rates will apply to those outside of Canada. Reprints For permission to reprint any portion of this magazine requests should be sent to:

Copyright 2012, Canada Post Publications Mail Canada Post Agreement Number: 42459522


and it makes the most sense to relent, I wrap my tortured lips around the barrel. I clatter my teeth against the cold metal. I throw my hands up and reset the scoreboard, just one… last… time. Why do some of us finally surrender? Despite our countless clichés and bumper stickers, none of us know for sure. If we did we would splash the secret across billboards so we could spare your daughters and sons, wives and husbands, friends and colleagues. All we know for certain is that some of us live to tell the tale, and far too Recently a new wave of media many of us die out there alone. It’s attention has been directed at fellow tempting to cast a vote at the latest addiction-sufferers living in the public tabloid victim; while we’re in the eye. I do not envy our struggling trenches we sure do make it easy. We comrades who carry the heavy burden are the punch lines in your jokes, ours of feeding, whatever their monster, is indeed a juicy story worth gossiping beneath a scorching spotlight. This is about. not to say I condone said behaviour, but simply to point out that if my But let us remember we didn’t worst moments in active addiction choose to lose control; no one chooses occurred in front of the watchful eyes a story like ours. Who knows why some of paparazzi I could have put any of us can leave a half-empty drink; besmirched politician to shame while the rest of us calculate the timelapse between the barkeeps last offer? (…oh I can assure you). Who knows why some of us can eat a healthy dinner, while the rest of us I know what it is to wake in the consume food until we’re ill and guilt morning surrounded by staggering ridden, only to consume some more. dead ends; urine soaked clothing, Who knows why some of us can play an missing undergarments, vomit in hair. enjoyable game of cards while the rest I know what it is to be uncertain of of us gamble our life savings and then which city I’m in or how I got there, try to borrow even more money from a and despite all logical reactions my friend. Who knows why some of us can first thought always the same (“Do have healthy sexual encounters, while I have any left?”) Sifting through the rest of us turn down meaningful soiled pockets for scarce remnants social engagements for hours of as I peer up at my absolute failure in pornography, masturbation, and the expression of every face I see. I endless amounts of shame. know what it is to demolish myself so absolutely that I surpass every logical Who knows why some of us are able expiration date. As if a gun is pointed to regulate what the rest of us will risk in my face, I know what it is to be given our lives to consume? one more shot to make things right. And when there is nowhere left to run We all started out as perfect

little beings. But despite our varying paths in life, a select few of us grew to discover that our brains were wired differently somehow, and the reasons are speculative at best. Perhaps if ours were a more respectable illness, like multiple sclerosis or cancer, maybe then we would garner compassion in the thick of our condition? Perhaps then, at our messiest, we would be worthy of prayers for remission rather than condemnation? Our magazine has received countless letters and emails from across North America asking us to comment on the public scandals at hand. Let me officially be clear: These pages are designed for people living in recovery: people already choosing to fight the good fight. Let us make a fresh beginning this New Year and show compassion for those still muddling through the trenches. We know, more than anyone else, how insidious and manipulative addiction can be. And until any of us chooses to participate in the solution, shining a brighter light on a subject founded in narcissism seems futile.

We will not become a gossip journal for fallen comrades, no matter their public status or influence. If you struggle with addiction, we are your people. And when the time comes to chart a new course and clean your mess, no matter how impossible the task, we are behind you. Until then, we will leave the chaos to those who thrive upon it.

Dee Christensen Editor in Chief



TOP 10

This little tip is about softening the noise outside your mind, to help sooth the noise inside. Sound is a much bigger stimulant than one might realize, and using this potent little superpower to stimulate positive results can be a real game changer. If this is a tough time for you, try changing your ring tone to something calming, try listening to peaceful music and changing your alarm to a soft melody. Make a conscious effort to reduce the sound clutter in your environment. Changing your tune will have a calming impact on all of the ears in the room, guaranteed.



5. STICK TO A ROUTINE Sticking to a routine is a great way to stay accountable and to reduce the amount of downtime our brains require in order to summon negative thoughts. Whether you’re trying to survive a visit with your family or just trudging through a dark period, keeping to a daily routine is imperative.

4. CHALLENGE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK There will be moments when reaching out to someone who will counter your negative self-talk is impossible. There will be moments when we are left to our own devices, and it will become our job to parent ourselves wisely. This means that when those old tapes start rolling, we need to roll a louder soundtrack that disputes any negative self-talk. Whether you need to list your strengths aloud, write a letter to yourself or enact simply coach yourself with encouraging words, don’t let those negative messages play without a counterattack. This fight is all yours.

1. A PHONE CALL A DAY There are two strengths that each of us needs to utilize during times of stress: support and stability. This little tip is about committing to make daily contact with someone in your support network. This means reaching out, once a day, to someone who offers you support, understanding and affirmation. Maybe it’s a sponsor, maybe it’s a collection of friends, but the point is that during times of stress a reminder that you are loved and appreciated unconditionally is an invaluable part of your daily regiment. 6

7. COMFORT COMFORT COMFORT 2. LAUGHTER This is about the art of not taking yourself too seriously. Laughter is more than just a way to strengthen your stomach muscles; it’s also one of the most effective coping skills available. Laughter increases your heart rate, pulse rate, pain tolerance and, most importantly, it reduces serum cortical, which is a hormone our bodies release during stress. If you are looking for a great way to cope, try watching some stand-up comedy, setting aside a few funny reads, or playing board games that require such silliness it would be impossible not to laugh! The next time your stress level starts to climb, try searching the web for funny videos as a first line of defense. You will be surprised how quickly a good belly laugh can change your whole climate.

There is a self soothing technique that most of us don’t think of: transforming everything into something comforting. This can be so much fun. It’s time to visit a clothing or thrift shop and buy a comfy sweater, some comfy sweatpants, or pajamas. It’s time to replace your seating options with a comfortable chair, or to add a comfortable pillow. It’s time to eat warm and toasty soup and other comforting foods. It’s time to throw up some comforting imagery wherever you need it, maybe a photo of a warm campfire beside your bed, or a soothing nature scene next to your bathroom mirror. It’s time to treat yourself the way Grandma would have: scoop yourself up in a blanky and snuggle for a while.

Wake, shower, meditate, call someone, get outside, get to a meeting, eat, sleep, scan your daily readers. Using a routine is a great way to claim some self-nurturing time and feel purposeful: two great sensations to latch on to when coping with any tension.

6. AVOID STIMULANTS This means that during turbulent periods it’s important to avoid the use of stimulants like caffeine, tobacco, and sugars. Whatever anxiety you think you are experience will only be amplified by the use of stimulants and especially the withdrawal. If you find yourself trying to cope with a rough patch, lay off the coffee and gummy bears for a while.

8. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS This sounds insane. At first glance it might seem like poor advice, but in fact it’s a very powerful tool. We live in a land of unreasonable expectations. We tell ourselves what to expect when the holidays roll around, and we set our sights so high that it’s nearly impossible to meet our own expectations. “Holidays are supposed to be joyous.They are a time when people come together, and being with your family is the only reason to rejoice!” Or we have expectations about our jobs, our relationships or our weekends: “We should be doing work that changes the world!” “The weekend is a time to live life to the fullest!” “Relationships are a sacred union, and we should be happy and united, always!” WRONG!! Holidays are just a socially constructed date, nothing more, nothing less.The weekend is two days, a relationship is social commitment, your job is a way to pay bills. None of it has to mean any more than that, we create our own expectations and then spend far too much time feeling shame for not succeeding. Lower the bar to a manageable height, and allow yourself to enjoy where you are. What’s the harm? Our brains can shift into fight or flight the moment something becomes uncomfortable.

10. REDUCING FAMILY STRESS This is a collection of a few tips specifically designed to help families cope through challenging periods. Whether it’s a holiday, a wedding, a funeral, or an average week that’s turning out to be a doozie: here are a few things to think about:

9. HELP SOMEONE This is the foundation of how recovery works. When you find yourself trying to cope with a rough situation, find someone who has it worse and lend a hand. Someone out there always has it worse, and in helping them you reframe your own situation from a deficit to a surplus. By helping others we transform ourselves into people who contribute, and we give back what’s been given to us. Across every single twelve-step group on earth, this is a resounding principle. 8

• There is no such thing as a superparent or a superkid. This is a legend. There is no contest to be entered and no prize to be doled out. Life is a process, let go of the fairytale. • Set reasonable timeframes on things and be realistic about your standards. Finding a healthy balance between enjoying your family and completing the tasks on your daily list is an important part of being a functional unit. Is getting absolutely everything done really more important than a bit of quality time? Not likely. • Make lists and dole out responsibilities using a reward system. Working together as a team with a common goal in mind, like takeout and board games as a grand finale or a movie night and homemade pizza. If one person is doing everything, that’s a breeding ground for resentment and lack of unity. Time to regroup, all hands on deck.



By Darlene Lancer JD, MFT Author of “Codependency for Dummies”



Codependency is learned – learned inaccurate information that you’re in some way not enough, that you don’t matter, that your feelings are wrong, or that you don’t deserve respect. These are the false beliefs that most codependents grow up with. They may not have been told these things directly, but have inferred it from behavior and attitudes of family and friends and events. Often these beliefs get handed down for generations. Changing them isn’t easy and is difficult to do on your own, because it’s hard to see others, let alone yourself, through a lens that’s different than the one you grew up with. Usually, people aren’t conscious of these beliefs about themselves. The 19th Century neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, the father of hypnosis, wrote that if there were a conflict between the will and the unconscious, the unconscious would always prevail. This explains what drives codependents’ behavior and why we often fail to carry out our best intentions or act upon what we know is right. Charcot had a great influence on Freud, who studied with him.

Codependents have many fears and anxieties based upon false ideas about themselves and others. For example, many think that making a mistake is unacceptable and shameful. They become anxious about taking risks, trying something new, or expressing their


opinion, because they’re afraid of failure or of looking foolish. Most don’t realize that they unconsciously believe that they’re unlovable, unlikeable, flawed, or somehow inadequate. Even if they’re aware of these false beliefs, they’re convinced of their truth. As a result, they’re anxious about revealing who they are, and please, control, or impress others so that they’ll be loved and not rejected. Still other codependents withdraw from people, rather than risk abandonment. People judge themselves based upon their erroneous beliefs and imagine others are judging them, too. Sometimes, I witness one spouse claim the other is criticizing him or her, when that isn’t the case. In fact, amazingly, this can even happen when the so-called “critical” words are in fact complimentary!

The false belief about unworthiness undermines codependents’ self-esteem and security and has serious consequences in their lives. They lack confidence and selftrust, live in doubt, and continually second-guess themselves. Many don’t feel worthy of being in a position of authority or having success, or even happiness. Those who are convinced that they’re bad can end up in relationships with people who are emotionally or physically abusive, which reinforces and worsens their low selfesteem. At a conscious level, they may be indignant and think that they deserve better, but still they stay and try to get the abuser to approve of them. Some stay because they believe the abuser “loves” them, which helps them

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overcome their belief that they’re unlovable or that no one else will. Similarly, many codependents have repeated relationships with men or women who are emotionally, or even physically, unavailable. They don’t feel that they deserve to be loved on a consistent basis. The unconscious belief is that “I have to win someone’s love for it to mean anything.” There may be opportunities for a relationship with someone loving and available, but they’re not interested. Instead, they’re excited about someone whose love they have to earn. They have to win it for it to count. When you grow up with the message that you shouldn’t feel a certain way or it’s unsafe to express certain feelings, you start to believe it. Examples are: being told not to get too excited, being punished for anger, having your distress or sadness ignored. Some shaming parents will tell their child not to cry, “or I’ll give you something to cry about.” As adults, codependents judge and dishonor their feelings. They hide them – sometimes even from themselves after years of suppression. If they don’t believe that it’s all right, “Christian,” or “spiritual” to feel angry, they may behave passive-aggressively, become depressed, or have physical symptoms, unaware of how angry they are. This is destructive to relationships. Some people withhold sex or have affairs because they’re angry, instead of talking about the relationship problems. Codependents also don’t believe that they have rights or that their needs matter, especially emotional needs, such as feeling appreciated, being support, receiving kindness, and being understood and loved. Most will put others’ needs ahead of their own, and won’t say “no” because they’re afraid others will criticize or leave them, triggering their underlying belief of being inadequate and unlovable. They often give or do more in relationships or at work for this reason. Self-sacrifice causes codependents to feel unappreciated and resentful. They wonder why they’re unhappy, never thinking it’s because they’re not getting their needs met. Moreover, because often they’re not

aware of their needs, they don’t take steps to have them met. If they do know, they can’t ask for what they want. It would feel humiliating. Instead, they don’t take steps to meet their needs and expect others to do so – without disclosing them! These hidden expectations contribute to conflict in relationships. Changing beliefs starts with awareness. You can become aware of your beliefs by paying attention to the way you talk to yourself.

Write down all the negative things you say to yourself. Often I see clients who are at first unaware of their inner voice, which I call the inner Critic, but after awhile, they discover it’s controlling their moods and actions. This is why I wrote a little ebook, 10 Steps to Self-Esteem: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism. Note the gap between your intentions and actions. Journal about this discrepancy and your interactions with others. Analyze your beliefs motivating your behavior. Ask yourself where your beliefs came from. The most important belief is that you can change. When I first began my recovery, my self-esteem and hope were so low that I didn’t believe change was possible. This was reinforced by another myth. Growing up, I heard my mother repeat, “Show me a child of 7, and I’ll show you the man,” which I took this to mean that after 7 years old, I couldn’t change. Actually, new research confirms that personality can change, and many studies show a strong link between personality, well-being, and health. People in 12-Step programs and therapy experience this all the time. Your mind is a powerful, creative gift from God. Learn to use it to work for you, not against you.

See more at:

You can change. 12


By Kimberley-Robyn Covey By Aakilah Ade



Things have changed since the high rolling 80’s and 90’s when drug use, especially powder cocaine and crack, was considered recreational activity for ‘cool’ people. It was during those years of big hair and unchecked excess that crack cocaine, powder, and other hard drugs morphed into a massive wave of insanity from coast to coast, creating such disturbing phenomena as ‘swarming’ youth, drive- by- shootings, tweaking violent addicts, and crack babies. The tragic fall out from this scourge became painfully apparent in the droves of preventable, tragic, early deaths due to drugs and drug related activities. As a nation, we rose to the occasion and took up the cause… We launched a so- called war on drugs, we provided antidrug education; millions of dollars were fueled into trying to divert young people from picking up illicit drugs. Prevention became a ‘buzzword’ and, for those who didn’t get the memo on prevention, detoxes, treatment centres and therapists popped up on every corner in every city. We exerted effort, energy, and money into enlightening the population about the hazards of chemical/ alcohol dependency. Recovery became big business. Remember that infamous commercial of an egg frying in a pan and that ominous voice saying, “For the last time, this is your brain on drugs…” In 2013 we get the most recent updated statistics and learn that our efforts are starting to pay off. In Canada, Health Canada reports a decrease in both pot use and cocaine use, with cocaine use decreasing in youth aged 15-24 from 11.3% in 2004 to 4.8% two years ago in 2011. It’s a similar story in the United States, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse; since 2006 cocaine and other illicit drug use has gone down steadily from 1.0% of the population over 12 years of age to 0.5% in 2011 (even though marijuana use is on the rise). This is great news - It seems that as a population we are on the right path - except for Hollywood. While the rest of the inhabitants are thrilled to be finally seeing a decrease in the numbers of drug related deaths, addict funerals seem to be exploding in Hollywood. The really sad part is that, despite the hard work and effort of those engaged in saving lives from addiction, and despite the plethora of heartbreaking Hollywood drug deaths, this small, elite, and glittery world continues to exert mega influence over our culture and our youth, consistently promoting a drug and alcohol influenced lifestyles as being hip, slick, and cool. Lights, Camera, Destruction!

“Drugs and Booze are the staples of coolness. ”

at the tragic event. But it seemed that no one wanted to acknowledge it as anything more than an unfortunate accident. In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, when Tony Bennett heard the news about Whitney’s passing, he took it as an occasion to make a political statement demanding that America legalize drugs, like in the Netherlands. “First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now, the magnificent Whitney Houston,” he stated, “I’d like everyone in this room to campaign to legalize drugs.” “Let’s legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam. No one’s hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it. “ Whaaat? Is this mass denial or simply ignorance? What is it with all these Hollywood movie producers who have, without doubt, attended many of these funerals for addicted celebrities, beautiful, promising stars who died horrible, lonely drug/ alcohol related deaths, yet go back to their studios afterwards and create movies like Seth Rogan’s and Evan Goldberg’s “This is the end” that continue to send those old messages that drugs and booze are the staples of coolness? What about those binge drinking movies like Animal House and The Hangover that only portray the “party” and the so called ‘good times’ people have while drinking to oblivion? The true dangers of blackout drinking are stuffed under layers of unrealistic scenarios and camouflaged with humor. There is a growing sense of outrage and urgency regarding these hypocrisies of Hollywood and the seeming lack of concern around the very real problem of drug dependency. The frustration is that there seems to be no honest or informed address of the situation.

So what’s wrong with Hollywood? While the rest of North America continues to battle the effects of drugs on our society, why does Tinsel Town continue to glamorize substance abuse For example, Dr. Reef Karim, an alleged addictions specialist and perpetuate the myth that being perpetually wasted on at The Control Center in LA told FOX411’s Pop Tarts columnist in substances is normal and fun? 2011, “In general, with cocaine abuse, or cocaine dependence, the numbers are dropping. They are not peaking or elevating. As is the tradition, the Hollywood elite turned out in But in Hollywood, it’s still going strong. You see it everywhere, great numbers to pay tribute to Whitney Houston when she it’s still considered to be a party drug.” died from drug abuse. All expressed shock and sadness



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“The entertainment industry generally has a broader tolerance for recreational drug use than other fields. Illicit drug use is tolerated so long as it doesn’t interfere with production. Some of this probably comes in the spirit of tolerance and supporting personal liberty, particularly in artists, but it is misguided.” Karim added. Recreational drug use? Misguided? Give us a break. Recreational drug use is doing a gram with friends once a year at a New Year’s party. We’re talking about people that do copious amounts of drugs day in and day out. Celebrities have been dropping like flies regularly from overdoses and alcohol poisoning for years. Is Dr. Karim tap dancing around the issue or is he simply another doctor that does not understand addiction? Perhaps a partial reason for this deep denial may be found in the misguided thinking of our Hollywood Icons. For many, in their mind’s eye, they simply don’t look or live like the common stereotypical drug addict. Therefore, they are not addicted. They haven’t lost their homes, their jobs, or their adoring public. They have more money than God and this contributes deeply to this delusion. Many never reach a financial bottom so continue living with no consequences for years. They have access to more money, have more time to indulge, and often have a horde of enablers who are very motivated to supply substances and to cover up for them.

celebrities undergo drug testing. They are in a large part responsible for influencing the lives of our most precious commodity, our kids. Further, a huge financial responsibility rides on their ability to show up and meet their contract obligations. Repeated delays and stoppages in production come at a considerable cost and often lead to paycheck losses for other people who are associated with the production. Without doubt, most entertainers would argue that “partying” while making a film or performing on a tour is not the same as flying a plane under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that it is not an important issue because it causes no harm. This argument is blatantly hypocritical. Hollywood stars spend a lot of time letting the world know how important they are. To suddenly concede that what they do is no longer significant to the public is a direct contradiction of their stardom. Hollywood contracts need to include a provision that drug use by actors during production will result in fines, forced rehab, and a potential loss of role. In reality there is no star that is so powerful that the industry would collapse without her or him. Everyone can be replaced. And, perhaps those who really kick up a fuss over having a few rules in place regarding illicit drug use might also be reminded that drugs are actually illegal!

A prime example: Despite being sent to rehab multiple times, Lindsay Lohan has never really admitted to being addicted to drugs/alcohol. Although a few years back she did release a statement saying that she had a problem, she had since reneged on her confession. She did a most disturbing interview in May with Piers Morgan in which she claimed that she only did cocaine 4 or 5 times and has never been a huge drinker. “I’ve never woken up in the morning and had a drink,” she states…




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What an irresponsible statement to make to a public following made up of impressionable kids who will now all think they aren’t drug addicts/ alcoholics as long as they don’t drink in the morning. Former heroin addict, Nicole Ritchie, hit home this point when she stated in an interview, “People have this image of druggies all living barefoot under a bridge but it wasn’t like that for me when I was using. I always looked cute and wore Jimmy Choos. “ How about some accountability from the stars who we support? Star athletes in the sports world are required to undergo drug testing on a regular basis. If players get caught with drugs in their system they are usually suspended. Pilots are required to submit alcohol and drug tests because they are responsible for our safety in the air. Some financial professionals must also submit to testing because of the financial responsibilities they hold. Perhaps it should also be mandatory that Hollywood

“ Hollywood, it’s still going strong!”

I Need Therapy! Why won’t my Psychiatrist talk to me?

In Ontario, it was possible to get therapy covered by our health care plan in the 1960s and 1970s. Many psychiatrists offered different modalities from psychoanalysis, to Gestalt, to cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychiatric departments in hospitals offered short-term counseling as well as group work. A small number of family doctors did a focused psychotherapy practice. Psychologists have never been covered by a governmental plan, but are covered by employment insurance plans. A working person could often get ten to twenty sessions of cognitive therapy from these clinicians. Since the 1990s, therapy has virtually disappeared from the psychiatric couches and medical offices. Rare is the medical clinician who now has the time, or even the training, to do therapy. There is still a small group of psychiatrists who do psychoanalysis (which is typically three to five sessions a week) but they usually charge the patient to top up the government fee that they get. Physicians working in mental health primarily diagnose psychiatric conditions and prescribe medications. Therapy is not often an option. Discussion is mainly focused on how the meds are working rather than on how to help the patient work out his or her issues. If you need to do therapy now, look to the hospital outpatient clinics for help that is covered by OHIP. This is the most likely place to find one-on-one sessions by a counselor for a short time (three months or less). Group therapy for people suffering from anxiety, depression, addiction, or eating disorders are also available in outpatient clinics. There is still a handful of GPs who practice psychotherapy. Sadly, all of these services have long waiting lists. You will have the most choice of long-term therapy outside of the medical system. There are excellent therapists who are offering a whole range of services from hypnosis, addictions relapse prevention, deep trauma work, or coaching through life issues. None of these are covered – but what price is your peace of mind?

What is Wet Brain?

Did you know that alcohol is toxic to the brain? It kills brain cells and can eventually lead to alcoholic dementia. The brain of a long term alcoholic actually shrinks. Stopping the booze can lead to some reversal of damage but, at some point, there is no going back. Wet brain is actually a specific type of brain injury due to the deficiency of thiamine (Vit B1). Long term drinking erodes the stomach lining which makes the alcoholic unable to absorb nutrients, especially Vit B1. The condition is made worse if the person is also eating a great deal of sugar: the lack of thiamine due to malnourishment with a whack of glucose can actually make a person psychotic and the condition becomes irreversible. By the way, you don’t have to be an alcoholic to get wet brain. A person who eats only polished rice or someone who is vomiting repeatedly (bulimia) can also get wet brain. It is all about not being able to absorb the essential vitamins. The technical term for wet brain (Beri Beri) is called Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome. Symptoms are: a staggering gait, severe loss of memory, double vision, mental confusion, and remembering things that never happened. It sounds an awful lot like being drunk - permanently! The treatment is to avoid alcohol, sugar, and most of all – to take thiamine. Thiamine is found in meat, whole grain cereals, nuts, peas, and soybeans. You can also take supplements – that multi – vitamin or Vit B complex really is important!

Research has shown that therapy is as effective as medication in managing anxiety or depression, insomnia, addiction – with far fewer side effects. Yet the government has chosen to support medication and is gradually opting out of supporting psychotherapy. This is not because medication is cheaper: given the costs of some of the current psychiatric cocktails that many people are on for a life time, the cost for a limited amount of therapy is actually cheaper to the system. What does this say about us – that we as a socieity have chosen to fund more costly medication rather than to support techniques that will foster human growth and development?



B ill W ilson Vitamin Story

By Dee Christensen



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The results of the vitamin therapy showed promise in helping alleviate depression, arthritis, cases of senility, and it even lowered cholesterol levels. When Hoffer introduced the therapy to Bill Wilson, who was known to suffer terribly from depression, Wilson immediately began taking the vitamin daily. The results were said to be remarkable. His fatigue and depression were lifted within days of beginning the regiment, and Bill went on to tout vitamin therapy in the rooms of AA.


Due to the similarity of the words “niacin” and “nicotine” (a poison) Bill asked Hoffer for other names

used for the vitamin during the course of his research. Bill later submitted a report to physicians in Alcoholics Anonymous that same year entitled, “The Vitamin B-3 Therapy.” Bills report urged doctors in the program to integrate vitamin therapy as part of recovery treatment. This made him quite unfavoured by some of the International AA board members of that time, who did not believe vitamin therapy was a legitimate resource for AA members.



Although the report did not stand the test of time, the name Bill selected for his report; “Vitamin B-3” is used to this day by even the most conservative medical resources. Hoffer, A. (2009). Who Is Abram Hoffer 1917 - 2009. . Saul, A. W. (n.d.). Niacin Therapy as Used by Abram Hoffer, M.D. Doctor Yourself .

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Celebrities • Recovery Workshops • Clinicians • Circuit Speakers • Authors 20

cisuM evitisoP & klaT yrevoceR Did you know that Alcoholics Anonymous founder, Bill Wilson, had a hand in naming the vitamin known today as B-3? In 1960 a doctor named Abram Hoffer was head of a mega vitamin therapy; a study used to determine the impact of Niacin (or Vitamin B-3) on schizophrenic patients, some of whom were alcoholic.

srohtuA • srekaepS tiucriC • snaicinilC • spohskroW yrevoceR • seitirbeleC

By Dr. Vera Tarman M.D.

First Things First,



“I need to work on my past trauma so that I can stop using!” This is the most common declaration from patients just entering treatment. In my experience, the jumping into deep trauma work in new recovery is also the quickest way to relapse. When a person stops using - wham! The emotions surge after being suppressed, buried, or numbed for so long. Storms of shame, grief, and remorse overcrowd the addict’s brain, all trying to get their day in the sun. Persons new in recovery feel pummelled by the sudden surge of feelings that they forgot they had or never even knew existed. The first months of sobriety can often seem like a mental horror house. A sense of security is the key first step towards staying sober. Safety can be found in many places, from a treatment center with a structure of activities to a sponsor who has encountered the same terrors. It can be a spiritual guide who welcomes the inner demons with wisdom and compassion. It can be a counsellor who provides supportive care to help the novice take his or her first steps gingerly into sobriety. Safety is NOT found in ongoing drug use. The tools essential towards healing trauma are: perspective, reframing, accepting responsibility, forgiveness, compassion, and self-love. These are not available to an addict who is still using. The frontal lobe and anterior cingulate parts of the brain, needed to access these tools, are simply not operational when a person is high or drunk. First things first: Sobriety! Nor is safety found when a person attempts to dig into his or her past before finding these tools. “I have to come to grips with my past because that is the reason I use!” This sentiment is understandable, as the addict is often trying to self-medicate the pain of his or her past. If the wound is healed, then the using is unnecessary, right? “I’ll stop once I have faced my issues.” This belief is dangerous. Ongoing drug use has its own momentum, creates its own pain, and exaggerates emotional pain already there. Feeling sunk? Emotional distress may be numbed while the addict is high, but in withdrawal the numbing thaws and the pain is magnified. Now the addict in withdrawal feels even worse. The whole point of trauma work is not to face the trauma and agonize in its pain – this only leads to relapse. Instead, it is to walk through the flames as quickly as possible to emerge on the other side, free of the shame. The mind cannot heal when it is befuddled with drugs



or alcohol; nor can it heal when it is under the stress of having no tools to self-soothe. It heals only under the conditions of sobriety, where a sense of trust in the healing process in the context of feeling safe can occur. If you have not yet learned how to self-soothe in the face of inner demons, deep therapeutic work could retraumatize you back to using drugs. Did you know that these tools of forgiveness, perspective, acceptance, and compassion, are learned? We are not born with these. They are NOT innate to our nature. These sentiments must be learned and practiced, over and over and over again. I have often wondered if the window of opportunity to learn these skills is in adolescence - under the guidance of caring parents. If a child did not grow up with this guidance, and has been using drugs at this crucial time period, the child has probably never learned these skills and must therefore work especially hard to attain them at a later age. It is not unusual for an adult to take years to gain enough internal stability to work at deep trauma. A therapist may teach these tools under the guise of confidence building or ego strengthening or cognitive therapy. A good trauma therapist will take all the time that is needed to find this place of internal solidity. A psychiatrist may also use medication to flatten the emotional rollercoaster while the addict tries to find his or her footing. Medication may help calm some of the emotional turbulence but it is often not powerful enough. I personally think that a higher power and / or a strong support network, such as a 12 step program, is essential to cover the many months, or even years, it takes to learn these tools. The 12 step platform encourages meetings to help relieve shame and loneliness and offers a spiritual program to provide a foundation of support and nurturance. It can create this environment of safety until addicts can provide this for themselves. First things first: Get sober and learn how to let others love you. Learn this, then practice, practice, practice the art of loving yourself. Don’t enter the dangerous territory of the tormented mind alone without a spiritual toolkit that can transform the profane into the sublime. Dig away into the darkness of your past with the light of your emotional sobriety. Better to be safe than sorry.

By Robyn Cruze Co author of “Making Peace with Your Plate”

Making Peace With your PLATE:


For over a decade, I struggled hopelessly with food and body image. My story is of eating disorder and alcoholism; but it is just one drop in the bucket. Most people have ongoing struggles with food. According to the Boston Medical Center, approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products. Furthermore, statistics suggest that a mere 5% of American females naturally achieves the “ideal” body portrayed by advertising — which means the rest of us are trying to reach a body ideal that fights against our genes.

The ideal body has become a symbol for feeling worthwhile, loved and fitting in. The preoccupation around it, and around what we eat to achieve it, is an accepted one. From our children to the elderly, we are hard-pressed to find anyone who is either satisfied with their body or not currently dieting. Yet we also are suffering from an obesity and binge-eating disorder (BED) epidemic. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 36% of Americans are obese, and statistics show that BED is more common than anorexia and bulimia. Back when I was binging around the clock, I was attempting to “stuff” my feelings of not measuring up to cultural expectations. I was using food to numb my sense of inadequacy the same way dieters use dieting to feel adequate. Wherever we are on the body spectrum, we struggle for control by placing restrictions on ourselves. gym, eat less “junk food,” and lose [fill in the blank] pounds. But I have rarely heard anyone say: “Next year, I am going to take I used to think that if only I could find a magic key, a perfect the time I need to rebuild the relationship between my body and combination of fad diets, exercise regimes, positive thinking myself.” I understand; it doesn’t quite have the same “quick fix” and will power, then I too would be lucky enough to escape the ring to it that other resolutions have. But are the quick fixes full, Maltese hips that my ancestors passed down to me and really quick? And do they really fix anything? Statistics show could be deemed “ideal.” Finally, I would be relieved from the that 95% of all dieters will regain their weight loss within five burden of my body. The expectations of what our bodies could years. be and the desperation we feel in wanting to attain it, is enough to sever our relationship from our bodies altogether. Nonetheless, I used to personally join the bandwagon of New New Year’s resolutions based around changing our bodies are the most common resolutions there are. At the end of each year, many of us declare that next year we will be healthier, join a 24

Year’s resolution hype, year after year. I would find a diet or fast. I made plans to start the moment the New Year’s ball fell, and then proceeded to comfort myself with my plans each time I underwent food comas from Thanksgiving on. Beginning the

Acupuncture Physical Medicine New Year, I would start my new diet with such gusto and dedication (even though none EVER lasted longterm)! And like before, with each meal of deprivation, the familiar sense of hopelessness and failure crept in until I found myself right back where I started — looking for the next quick-fix diet that would save me from myself. But nothing changes if nothing changes. I was running in circles to find a magic key that was outside of myself. As in all recovery, the key to finding what worked for my body was within me. It was not in the perfect diet or the right fitness regime. It turns out, it was in my willingness to get reconnected with my body. It was in my willingness to allow my body the time to rebuild its relationship with food based on its own needs…because if I listened to it, it told me all that I needed to know to maintain its health. Our bodies are magical things. They tell us when they are hungry, and when they are full. If we listen, our bodies will even tell us the texture, flavor and temperature of food it wants to eat. It will tell us what it needs when it is sick, and what we need to help us grow a baby. (Well, if you are female, that is.) When I finally had enough of being in an unhealthy relationship with my body and food, I reached a point where I didn’t care what I “should” look like. I said to myself, “If I’m meant to be larger, so be it.” Scary? Yep, but not as scary as living in body-and-food hell for the rest of my life. First, I tried eating “mindfully” (eat when hungry, stop when full, eat whatever your body wants), but I realized that it was far too difficult to take cues from a body I had worked so hard to ignore. So I had to start at a place a little more basic. In our book, Making Peace with Your Plate: Eating Disorder Recovery, Espra Andrus, LCSW, and I outline our “Nutritional Healing: A 3-Tier Approach.” Each tier acts as a foundation in rebuilding your relationship with your body and food. It helps by providing a structured freedom. Removing all “good” and “bad” labels from foods and allowing ourselves to eat them three times a day — with guidance on portions — allows us to explore food again, with structure to calm the fear that we will gain ridiculously large amounts of weight. This step has the ability to liberate and provide a safety net to challenge our beliefs about body control and food. Within three to six months, you will organically begin to make choices from a place of trust — trusting that your body will let you know what it needs and trusting that you won’t lose control. You see, it is only when we begin to rebuild our trust with our bodies, food, and ourselves that we can

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truly investigate how certain foods impact our bodies, minds, and spirits. If we choose to restrict foods before rebuilding our relationship with food and body, we run the risk of making choices from a diet mentality instead of for optimum health. No one wants to take the long route anymore, especially when it comes to our bodies. But here’s the thing: The longer route is the quicker fix! So this new year, consider a resolution to making peace with your plate, by first making peace with your relationship to your body and yourself.

By Aakilah Ade




For the first time in our history the words addiction and Toronto are in the same sentence around the world. #Hashtag what about the families? For each active, out of control, or “managing” addict there is a circle of people attached; family members and friends who’ve been infected, affected, out of control, or “managing”. I was one such “manager” of my family member’s addiction. I remember one summer I had moved into an amazing home in Pickering Ontario, I wanted to share my good luck with my best relative, my cousin, an alcoholic. I say ‘luck’ because based on what I know now about addiction, as a non-drinking (but raging) codependent, I was as insane as the alcoholic and it was luck that kept me functional on a daily basis. A white knuckling, waiting for the next thing to happen, luck. Our family of origin is saturated with chemical and non-chemical addicts; we are products of our diseased environment. So my cousin came over, and to manage him I made sure there was no alcohol in the home. My partner at the time would have the occasional drink. I loved my cousin, I needed his approval and I wanted him to be proud of me. He was the only blood relative that I had a relationship with at the time. My cousin drove


his car over to my new home. He came in and praised me in his best Canadian gay male critiquing style and complimented my new place. We had a ball and after the tour we relaxed at the kitchen table where he further entertained me by impersonating our various aunties by imitating their dialects. He threw in each of their unique physical and vocal mannerisms, he created avatars, and soon I had praise from my avatar aunties. I loved my cousin so much… he was everything to me and for me, when sober. “How about a drink Annoutees” said my cousin using a childhood nick name that my aunties used in good times. Well, I was prepared… out came the cola, ginger ale, and water. This was our dance, I truly believed if I offered him a variety of fluids that he would be satisfied and not seek alcohol. “Don’t you have a beer?” he asked. “Nope, no alcohol here.” My cousin went out to his car, brought in a bottle of liquor. He poured a drink, and continued to entertain me, but I was no longer laughing and this was no longer fun. I became worried about how long would it take for him to get drunk and rude. I started to obsess. I had done some reading and was aware that if a person leaves someone’s home and drives drunk, anyone in possession of that knowledge is as liable as the drinker for harm done to others. This knowledge made me fearful. When my cousin went to the washroom I went into his man purse, took out his car keys, and hid them in the fireplace. The rest of our time together was a blur as I spent the time waiting for him to discover his keys were gone.

The time came, my cousin had a few drinks in him, he was not sloppy drunk but he had a buzz on and I knew once he had one drink he would continue to drink. He was also addicted to crack cocaine and marijuana, so his plan to depart brought more fears and ‘what ifs’ into my brain. Off he went, and of course, he was back in 5 mins looking for his keys. Initially he thought he had dropped them, but soon realized that I must have taken them. He asked for the keys. I lied badly and claimed I did not know what happened to them. He threatened to take the house apart. I threatened to call the police if he drove while under the influence. The war of words ended when he treated me with violence. We had physical confrontations in the past and I was not willing or interested in a physical fight since he usually won. Alcohol fueled him and made him strong and violent. Under the threat of violence I handed over the keys. Actually I threw them down a hallway so I could make him fetch and bend…I wanted vengeance. For my efforts I received a shove. Vulgar and profane words were spouted back and forth from both of us. Off he went, driving under the influence. I picked up the phone to dial 911 and stopped, I could not. For weeks following that night I struggled with my lack of strength to dial 911. I was angry at his threats and wished I had made the call as revenge. Yet, at the same time, I did not want to see my cousin locked up. He’d already had previous run-ins with the law. I was indecisive. I was powerless. I was angry. My solution after this event was to withdraw. I did not speak to my cousin for many years and he continued drinking and drugging. Eventually he did hit a pedestrian and lost his license. He did not create my fear, anger, powerlessness, resentment, and need for revenge on that night. If I am to be honest, I can see that these emotions were with me from way back in my childhood, stemming from drug and alcohol related family issues that I experienced during my early years. As a result, these reactions became normal and I reacted to everything with the same intensity, the same mistrust. And when crossed or disappointed, I sought revenge. I created chaos for myself and anyone else around me. My life; filled with fear and distrust, along with my need to control everything and everyone around me made me unhappy; it was a lot of work without positive outcomes. My alcoholic and addicted family members continued to pick up their chemicals of choice and I continued to pick up poor coping skills, negative thinking, and dark behaviors. Withdrawing and avoiding people was not a solution that was working, tough love was only tough on me; I missed my cousin. As I tried to find a solution to my negativity and unhappiness, I learned the words to describe my behavior and fears: I was/am a codependent. I am comfortable looking at everyone else as the reason why I am unhappy. I told myself that if my cousin stopped using I would be happy; I would be able to trust. If people would do as I think they should, I would be happy. This meant I had to work hard to fix them so that they could see that I knew best. Trying to cure my cousin, worrying about others, knowing what everyone else “should” do meant that I did not have time to look at my own issues or take care of myself.

Dianne Piaskoski BComm, BSc, MMath, MA

but’terfly effect` The “butterfly effect”is a term in chaos theory that depicts how one small change (the flap of a butterflies wings) in one place can result in a large and unpredictable change (a hurricane, say) in another place. The same can be true when we make small changes in our lives.

Addictions Counselling (416) 522-9421 www.

In 12 step rooms I found people like me. I found other people who shared similar experiences, people who were affected by other peoples drinking and drugging. I found a space to be honest and a way to do the steps for co-dependents; I was given the tools to secure my honesty, to find compassion for my relatives and for myself, and relearn how to live in the real world with real people. I learned how to take care of my needs, how to set healthy boundaries, how to laugh, and how to forgive. Best of all, I learned that sometimes the best way that I could help people was to let them find their own way and deal with their own consequences. There was freedom for me in admitting the truth, which was that I was powerless over anyone else’s addiction and I can’t make them better or want to get better. I discovered that, prior to recovery, I had stopped learning and growing; I was stuck in the quicksand of codependency. I could not climb out by myself. But 12 steps created a path to recovery, one step at a time, like ascending a great ladder from muck and mire, onto terra ferma.

Regarding Issue 5 “The Addiction Cure” by Dee Christensen

Letters to the EDITOR

I read, with great interest, the article about the Chinese physicians doing some kind of drilling into people’s heads to rid them of their addictions-”The Addiction Cure”Whoa, that sounds like the old ‘blood letting’ thing back a century or two. How does it explain all of us who leave our addicted lifestyles behind without the help of medications and/or psychiatrists, with nothing but the desire to change lifestyles and determine whether if being drug-free, life may be better in the end? Why is it that we (I mean this example of the human race) are so fixated on sustaining the belief that there has to be a medical explanation for all that goes on? There is a spiritual part of us that thrives there is a mental part of us that never ceases to amaze me and

a physical component to us that complements the other two nicely, if given a chance and the right circumstances. So this idea that the only way is a “medical” solution just doesn’t sit well with me at all. As a human being who had more than my share of alcohol and drugs in my lifetime, I can honestly say that drilling holes in people’s heads to solve the issue of an addiction has more to do with Frankenstein than anything else. The idea here is to choose another way of life that meets the needs of the addict and provides some peace and happiness that he/she is still capable of enjoying. I’d rather these guys spend their time and resources trying to find a cure for dimentia or cancer. Jim

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The Lord’s Prayer – Is there a place for it in A.A.? The chairperson asks that we close the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer. We stand, we hold hands, and I do as I have done for years – I do not say the prayer. I stand there patiently, waiting for it to end. I look around. I see other people doing what I am doing, feeling uncomfortable- out of place. To me that prayer is a Christian prayer and if AA represents no religion, then why is it said? Am I wrong? So I do some research. I look at the A.A. preamble. “A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, organization or institution”. I read in the Big Book, “ AA is not a religious organization”. We refer to a God of “Our Understanding”. I hear the Third Tradition, “The only requirement for A.A. Membership is a desire to stop drinking.” I find out that the Lord’s Prayer is only found in religious institutions that are based in Christianity.

meetings is how comfortable we feel. Yet, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer makes it harder for many of us to feel comfortable. Maybe many who are not Christian stay away, fearing that A.A. Is a religious organization. How many people, like myself, did not come back for years because I heard, what I believe to be a Christian Prayer? Coming back to the Third Tradition, I feel that the groups have to be open, simply, to all those who have a desire to stop drinking and should not employ a sectarian religious practice that may exclude those who are not Christian.

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More and more groups seem to be ending with The Serenity Prayer. Perhaps that is the answer. Norm

I think the thing that people like so much about the



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February 6 - 6

50th International Women’s Conference Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii For registration information: For online registration and program visit:

February 21 - 23

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December 14

February 28 - 01

Treating The Addiction HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL Location: The Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 Director(s): Mark J. Albanese, MD|Janice F. Kauffman, RN, MPH, CAS|Edward J. Khantzian, MD|Judy Reiner Platt, Ed.D. Offered by: Cambridge Health Alliance Department of Psychiatry Physicians $380.00 Other Registrants $280.00 For more information: pdf/00342398.pdf

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3. Spanish rice dish 4. A very poisonous alkaloid, obtained from tobacco 5. AcrossBecause I've Never Been Good Enough 6. Overeaters Anonymous founder, first name 3. 7. Spanish rice dish Threesome 4. 8. A very poisonous alkaloid, obtained fromactivist Jamaican-Canadian hero: labor union Across tobacco turned citizenship judge 3.5.Spanish Because I'vedish Neverthe Been Enough 10. Stay rice away from first Good ___ (Gamblers Anonymous founder, firstfrom name 4.6.A Overeaters very poisonous alkaloid, obtained Anonymous) 7. Threesome tobacco 11. Hens opposite Jamaican-Canadian hero:Good labor Enough union activist 5.8.Because I've Never Been 12. Also known as Vitamin B-3 turned citizenship judge 6. Overeaters Anonymous founder, first name 15. Facing my stuff instead of… (Overeaters 10.Threesome Stay away from the first ___ (Gamblers 7. Anonymous) Anonymous) 8. Jamaican-Canadian hero: labor union activist 16. Louis Armstrong nickname 11. Hens opposite turned citizenship judge 17. This too shall… 12.Stay Alsoaway known as the Vitamin B-3 10. from first ___ (Gamblers 18. Immoderate restriction 15.Anonymous) Facing my stufffood instead of… (Overeaters 19. Stink Anonymous) 11. Hens opposite politician who could use a meeting 21. Torontonian 16.Also Louis Armstrong nickname 12. known asrocker Vitamin B-3 first name 22. Aerosmith Tyler's 17. This too shall… 15. Facing my stuff instead of… (Overeaters 18. Immoderate food restriction Anonymous) 19. Stink 16. Armstrong nickname 21.Louis Torontonian politician who could use a meeting 17. This too shall… 22. Aerosmith rocker Tyler's first name 18. Immoderate food restriction 19. Stink 21. Torontonian politician who could use a meeting 22. Aerosmith rocker Tyler's first name




1. Soup made of soybean 2. Unmarried woman 3. A person's striving for flawlessness 5. Let it ____ with me (Alanon) Down 9. Flavorful paste 1. made of soybean 13.Soup Marijuana cigarette, slang 2. Unmarried woman 14. Codeine cough syrup, slang Down 3. person's striving for flawlessness 15.A Cigar dipped in embalming fluid 1. Soup made of soybean 5. Let it ____ with me 20. Condition in which(Alanon) a person is preoccupied with 9. 2. Flavorful Unmarried woman physical flaws (Abr.) minor orpaste imaginary 13. slang 3. Marijuana A person'scigarette, striving for flawlessness 14. cough slang 5. Codeine Let it ____ withsyrup, me (Alanon) 15. dipped in embalming fluid 9. Cigar Flavorful paste 20. Condition in which a person 13. Marijuana cigarette, slang is preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws (Abr.) 14. Codeine cough syrup, slang 15. Cigar dipped in embalming fluid 20. Condition in which a person is preoccupied with minor or imaginary physical flaws (Abr.)


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Unity Day St. Timothy’s Anglican Church 100 Old Orchard Grove, Toronto ON 1:30 OA members from around the world join to reaffirm their unity.



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Commitment – “Investing in People” Quality – “Striving for Excellence” Dignity – “Restoring Self-Respect” Care – “Helping More People…Better”


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