Substance Addiction

What is Substance Addiction?

Substance addiction is a mental illness. When a person becomes dependent on drugs, so much so that it alters the way their brain works, along with causing a multitude of problems that severely affects the person's life, they can be diagnosed with substance addiction.

Symptoms & Characteristics

Drug Tolerance - Some common indications include:

Drug Tolerance – need for increased doses for desired “high”

Withdrawal – continue use in order to postpone pain of withdrawal (stopping drug use)

Inability to stop – despite being aware of the destructive nature of drugs, you don’t stop using them

Reliance – you rely on drugs to get you through the day

Who is Affected?

Anyone and everyone is at risk! Here are some statistics:

  • Over 23 million people needed treatment for substance addiction (America, 2009)
  • Most people (~60%) are Caucasian, and African Americans make up the next biggest chunk (~20%)
  • ~86% are between ages 20-59


Factors for starting drug use


Your, your family, friend and peers’ views on drugs. If it is acceptable, then you are more likely to start using drugs.


If your current situation is extremely stressful or causing you a lot of discomfort, then giving into the temporary temptation of drugs becomes a more valid option.

Why you keep using


Dopamine acts as a natural reward system. You get a rush of dopamine each time you use drugs. To achieve that "high" again, you keep using more drugs, further harming yourself, and making yourself more dependent.


The process of withdrawal (ceasing drug intake) is an extremely painful and tough experience. Addicts keep using drugs just to avoid this period of intense physical and emotional turmoil.


On the user

  • Normal activities impacted
  • List of priorities and needs changed
  • Give up on things you enjoyed
  • Financially burdened
  • Relationships strained
  • Health problems

On family & friends

  • Blame themselves
  • Put your needs ahead of theirs
  • Hurts them emotionally
  • Distance themselves

On Society

Everyone ends up paying the price (usually through taxes). If incarcerated, or hospitalized, tax payers end up covering the cost.

The cost of substance abuse in Canada is $39.8 billion ($1,267 per Canadian)

Treatment Options

There are many places where people who have substance addictions can go.

Rehab Centers

Rehabilitation clinics, such as GreeneStone Muskoka, or any other regional Rehab clinics can help you curb your dependency on drugs. By enrolling you in a program that helps wean you off of your addiction, it is a relatively good long term solution.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or any other support programs allow you to talk and share your experiences with others going through the same ordeal.


Hotlines, such as Ontario’s Drug and Alcohol Helpline, can help you get connected to professionals who can help you with your addiction.

Obstacles in the way of recovery

Although our methods are somewhat effective, they can be improved to help the afflicted people even more.

  • Stop incarcerating drug users. Get them Professional help instead
  • Family Members must remain supportive and helpful
  • Address root causes of substance abuse (ease of access, troubled and in danger families etc.)


Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Effects on the family. (n.d.). Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Hall-Flavin, D. (n.d.). Drug addiction. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

mental disorder. (2014). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Treatment Statistics Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Robinson, L., Smith, M., & Saison, J. (2014, November 1). Drug Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved November 13, 2014, from

Comment Stream