Substance Abuse & Addiction

What does addiction mean?

Addiction refers to a dependence on something—whether it be alcohol, opioids, gambling, eating, sex, or watching TV. While people like to think of addiction as exclusive to pain meds or crystal meth, it extends far beyond that, and many people struggle with addiction. Substances and other behaviours are not inherently bad for us, but when we become overly dependent on them and we abuse them, for whatever reasons, they can take a major toll on our lives.

 

Why does addiction occur?

The number one root cause of addiction is trauma. If you experienced abuse, neglect, the sudden loss of a loved one, violence, or any other traumatic event, you may have lingering & unresolved emotions that feel so intense and so overwhelming that substances seem like your only way to cope. Even beyond the need to deal with the memories or feelings from traumatic events, there is a physical change once you've experienced trauma, where your body's ability to determine the presence of a threat is compromised; you may feel intense panic or dread in situations that are relatively harmless because your body does not know what is safe and unsafe after a traumatic event.

 

How does therapy help me with my substance use?

If you are wanting to make changes to your substance use, or if you would like to explore the possibility of making changes, working with a therapist can help you sort through the pros and cons of your current use and ideal use, it can help you discuss your substance use in a safe space, and it can be an opportunity to gain knowledge about how your use is affecting your life.