Substance Abuse

Problematic Substance Use

Substances, such as drugs and alcohol, can cause both psychological and physical dependence which can result in problematic substance use and a substance use disorders. A substance use disorder, also known as addiction, is the chronic dependence on and involvement with a substance or activity, regardless of the risk of harm. Some primary indicators of addiction may include:

  • Compulsively seeking the substance
  • Changes in appearance
  • Increased risk-taking
  • Constant cravings for the substance
  • Repeatedly engaging in harmful behaviour
  • Inability to stop using the substance despite the harms that the substance is causing

There are some factors that may put individuals at more risk of experiencing problems with substance use, such as:

  • A family history of problems with substance use
  • Past experiences of trauma or abuse
  • Intergenerational trauma
  • Existing emotional or mental health issues
  • Low self-esteem

Recovery from problematic drug use or a substance abuse disorder is challenging but possible. It is important to remember that addiction treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach and relapsing at some point is likely. 

Cannabis  Methamphetamine  Opioids


If you, or someone you know, is dealing with substance use problems, here are some helpful resources:

Wellness Together Canada

Kids Help Phone

Provincial and Territorial Resources