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Some people who use substances like alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs, become dependent on them. If your substance use is causing problems at work, home, school, or in relationships, but you keep using it, you might have an addiction. You have many options for getting help. 

What are the signs and symptoms of addiction?

If you're noticing any of the following things in your life, you might have an addiction:

  • Not keeping your responsibilities at school, work, or home because of your substance use.
  • Taking the substance in dangerous situations, like driving while on drugs or using dirty needles.
  • Having relationship problems because of substance use.
  • Building up a tolerance. You need to use more of the substance to experience the same effects you used to experience with less.
  • Taking substances to relieve withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without the substance, you experience nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
  • Losing self control. You use more of the substance than you planned, or you engage in activities even though you told yourself you wouldn't. You may want to stop, but you feel like you can't.
  • Making everything revolve around the substance. You spend a lot of time using and thinking about the substance, figuring out how to get them, and recovering from their effects.
  • Changing lifestyle. You don't do things you used to enjoy, such as hobbies or sports.
  • Continuing to use the substance, even though you know it’s hurting you. It's causing major problems in your life but you do it anyway.
  • Facing homelessness or incarceration because of behaviours related to substance use.

I want to stop using substances. What kind of help can I get?

  • Counselling. Talk to a mental health professional to understand your triggers, make safety plans, and connect with resources near you.
  • Daytox. Go through withdrawal at a medically-monitored day program.
  • Detox. Get substance free and work on personal goals during a short-term stay at a residential program. You can usually stay five to seven days.
  • Treatment. Get long term and more intensive residential support.
  • Support groups. Learn the steps for dealing with addiction and share your experiences with others. The two most common support groups are Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) and Narcotic Anonymous (NA).
  • Agreements with Young Adults (AYA). Apply for money to pay for treatment. AYA can cover the cost of some addiction services if you meet the other eligibility criteria. 

Watch and learn about addiction:

Watch and learn about the Indigenous perspective on addiction:

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