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Common Substance Addictions

What is Substance Addiction?

Substance addiction or substance abuse is a chronic addictive behaviour in which an individual must compulsively take drugs or use alcohol because they have built up a dependence to it.

What are the Common Addictions in Canada?

There are three common addictions that affect Canadians every day. They are alcohol, street drugs, and prescription drugs.


You may be more familiar with alcohol addiction through its more common name of alcoholism. It is a widespread disease that involves the overconsumption of alcohol (liqueur, beer) and alcoholic substances (mouthwash, rubbing alcohol).

Alcohol is the most common substance addiction in Canada and spates both men and women. This is largely due to the fact that is legalized and commonly accepted for people to drink. This is not to say that if you enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail with dinner that you are an alcoholic; those who suffer from alcoholism drink to excess on a regular basis despite the negative affects prolonged alcohol abuse has on the body and mind.

Detoxing from alcohol addiction without the help of a professional rehab and detox organization can be life threatening. Do not try and treat alcoholism (yours or anyone else’s) on your own, as it can be fatal. Always seek the aid of a doctor or other addiction professional before attempting to cease drinking for good.

Street Drugs

A street drug is an illegal drug taken for non-medical reasons. People who abuse street drugs generally use them for their mind-altering affects (the feeling of being “high”).

Street drugs can be anything from marijuana to cocaine to heroin to methamphetamine. Long-term abuse of street drugs can cause cognitive damage, irreversible bodily harm like scarring, lung impairment and destruction to the nasal passages.

Detoxing from street drugs, especially those in the opiate family, should be done under the careful watch of a professional, preferably in a rehab centre. Like alcohol, detoxing from street drugs on your own can have negative consequences. Alwaysuse the services of a doctor or another addiction professional when you decide it’s time to quit abusing drugs.

Prescription Drugs

Addiction to prescription drugs occurs when an individual overuses legal medication and builds up dependence to it.

There are two major classes of prescription drugs that people become addicted to. They are opioids (used to treat pain), and central nervous system depressants (used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders). Prescription drugs abused in Canada include Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium and Oxycodone. Always enlist the help for a professional when you are ready to overcome your addiction of prescription drugs. Detox should be done in the safe setting of a reputable rehab centre.

What to do For Help

Unfortunately, thousands of Canadians suffer from substance addiction. If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, getting help immediately is essential to the quality of your life.

Addiction Canada provides a safe rehabilitation space where people afflicted with addiction can detox in a controlled and monitored manner. We also provide treatment for concurrent disorders which are the mental illnesses that often accompany dependence.


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