Addiction is more common than perhaps we’d like to admit: an estimated six million Canadians will meet the criteria for addiction in the course of their lifetime.
It isn’t a choice, although experts say it’s often portrayed as such, which only serves to further stigmatize those who are struggling.
“Sure, we’ll make the decision to use (the first time), but nobody decides to live that lifestyle,” Kim Hellemans, chair of the neuroscience department at Carleton University in Ottawa, told Global News last year.
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To distinguish between finding it hard to say no and a substance use disorder, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) qualifies addiction with the four Cs: craving, loss of control of amount or frequency of use, compulsion to use and using despite the consequences.
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CAMH offers plenty of starting points if you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction.
It has a free online tutorial, an addiction information guide and advice for how to spot and talk about a substance use disorder. It even has information for children who worry their parents are drinking too much.