Return from the escape

Dr. Bayla Schecter outlines the health reasons for people’s addiction

Dr. Bayla Schecter spoke at the Parksville Civic Centre Wednesday night about addiction.

The Oceanside Division of Family Practice held it’s second monthly public health information session to help spread medical information directly to the community.

The local group of over 30 doctors brought in Dr. Bayla Schecter, who has worked in addiction medicine for 23 years.

The talk was on “What is Addiction and facts on alcohol, tobacco and marijuana you may not know,” she said, but pointed out each part of that title could be an entire lecture on its own, so she focused on addiction in general.

“Why do people use drugs and alcohol?” she asked rhetorically, “because it feels good and to escape from what’s bothering them.”

“For people who do drugs for a reason — to lose weight, escape a bad home or whatever — for them drugs are the solution, not the problem,” she began provocatively before getting into physiological details of addiction.

Addiction is roughly half genetics and half environmental, she said, but regardless of those factors, the huge overlapping fact is the actual effect of the drug of choice — any addictive substance or activity from alcohol and tobacco to illicit drugs to things like gambling or Internet addiction.

The physiological response to addiction is always the same, she said explaining how neurotransmitters spark a series of messages which release dopamine in the brain, the chemical that produces pleasure.

She pointed out that dopamine is released by anything that makes you feel good, but addictive substances or activities release much more than normal and create what she calls a red track — something that transforms the brain so you only feel good from that drug.

For local help with addiction contact the Vancouver Island Health Authority addiction intake services at 250-739-5710 in the Brooks Landing Mall in Nanaimo, or Vancouver Island Youth and Family Addiction Services at 155 Weld Street in Parksville, 250-927-2956.

The next forum is Nov. 5 on Managing Sandwich Generation Stress. For details call 250-585-2540 or check


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