Month: December 2017

Healing The Heart Of The Addict With Traditional Chinese Medicine


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sees addiction as a disease of the heart and spirit.

The spirit in Chinese medicine is said to be housed in the heart, which is viewed in TCM as the Emperor or the “King of the castle”, and if the king is unhappy, all of his royal subjects suffer.

This put simply means that disharmony in one area of the body begins a chain reaction of imbalance that affects the whole person.

All things in Chinese medicine from the foods we eat to the substances we use hold specific elemental qualities of temperature, movement, and flavour that affect the body and its organ systems differently.

For example:

Alcohol in terms of Chinese medicine has a warm energy, a dispersing upwards movement (moves qi), and a sweet flavour. It affects the spleen, stomach, liver and gall bladder.

Heroin and other opiates have a sour and astringent flavours, a warm aromatic energy, and are very dispersing (strongly moves qi). Opiates enter all 12 of the meridians/channels.

Crack/Cocaine has a bitter flavour a warm energy, has a dispersing upwards movement (moves qi), and either affects the lungs (smoked), heart (spirit), liver and kidneys.

The body is designed to shift and compensate for changes in diet and emotion, however, it loses this ability when we are exposed to repetitive harmful or imbalanced lifestyles.

The aim of Chinese medicine is to re-balance the internal atmosphere of the body, and regain harmony of the spirit and emotions through acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation, exercise, and diet.

By following nature’s path, we can find harmony in all things. Acupuncture can be an amazing tool in the management and treatment of both acute and post acute withdrawal symptoms.

Its use is included as part of many treatment programs to help clients cope with the complex physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of healing.

Additionally, other mindfulness based practices such as meditation, breathing, relaxation skills training, and Yoga have been proven to be of tremendous benefit.

If you start with the heart, everything else will fall in line.  When the King is happy, his people are happy.


About the author: 

Dr. Kim Graham, heads the Together We Can Acupuncture Program, and is a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. With eight years of education in Eastern and Western medicine, Dr. Graham is an expert in her field, and has hands-on experience with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness in Vancouver’s downtown East Side and at Harbour Light. 

Dr. Graham has been facilitating acupuncture treatments for men in early recovery since 2002, and is an expert at recreating balance and alignment for the processes within the human body.

Embracing the Trans Recovery Community at TWC’s Alliance Program


The following gratitude post was written by TWC Alliance alumni Matty Shepherd on their journey through recovery, and details how inclusion and support of the LGBTQ community can help in the healing of souls, and the living of authentic lives for those who identify as Transgender.


Treatment for drugs and alcohol in Vancouver did me a lifetime of good. Not only did I start spending a lot of time in the fellowship and start learning of a new way to live, clean, I was surrounded by some amazing people. People who taught me it was okay to be me.

During my time in treatment at the Alliance recovery program, I made quite a few openly gay and non-binary lifelong friends who helped me start feeling comfortable to let my guards down and embrace myself more.

This is where I first started to try out wearing make-up. They gave me my first foundation, brush, taught me how to use eye concealer. One of the guys used mascara to colour in his facial hair and saw how much fun I was having exploring make up and gave me his mascara!

Guys at the house started to take notice, and naturally started calling me ‘she’.  Man did that feel good! People could tell that me just using the bit of make-up and being referred to as a ‘her’ gave me a glow.

Now when a drag queen showed up, and we befriended immediately, he showed me a thing or two. Rather shyly, I snuck into his room quietly with one of my dearest friends to try out his wigs. That was a hoot! Then he even gave me some feminine items. Some more make-up and my first dress. I have it with me now hanging up in my closet. He even gave me my first bra.

I started to love where this was taking me and gave me a new skip in my step. The amazing drag queen even brought me to my first trans meeting within Vancouver. That was nerve racking.

Besides my close friends being in on my experimenting, no one knew. So going to a trans meeting was really great all in all. It was a social gathering with other transgender and LGBTQ2 individuals within the community.

I did go to a clinic called Three Bridges (which the trans social group I went to was through) and there I was able to get some information and ask a lot of questions, although at the time I was not ready to follow through with going on hormones and such.

Alliance was a safe haven for me from my addiction and being such a unique recovery program, really was the first place where I felt ‘allowed’ to embrace my inner self like no other way I had before.

Forever grateful to alliance, will always hold a special place in my heart.

Matty Xo


To learn more about the Alliance program at Together We Can click HERE.