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Medicine

Addiction

When Does Problematic Use Become A Substance Use Disorder (Addiction)?

When someone regularly uses drugs or alcohol despite continued negative consequences, they may have substance use disorder.

It is a medical condition that requires treatment from health care providers. Substance use disorders can involve both psychological and physical dependence.

If someone you know has one or more of the following behaviors, they may be experiencing a substance use disorder:

constant cravings for the drug

  • compulsive drug seeking

  • Continuous use despite the harms that the drug is causing, such as:

  • negative health effects

  • missing school or work

  • lower grades or marks at school

  • isolation from friends and family members

  • extreme changes in behaviours and mood

ABOUT STIGMA OVERDOSE-RELATED DEATHS AND OTHER HARMS ARE AFFECTING OUR FRIENDS, FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES. ADDICTION IS NOT A CHOICE. IT IS A TREATABLE MEDICAL CONDITION, YET MANY PEOPLE AFFECTED BY ADDICTION FACE STIGMA. STIGMA IS NEGATIVE ATTITUDES, BELIEFS OR BEHAVIOURS ABOUT OR TOWARDS A GROUP OF PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR SITUATION IN LIFE. IT INCLUDES DISCRIMINATION, PREJUDICE, JUDGMENT AND STEREOTYPES, WHICH CAN ISOLATE PEOPLE WHO USE DRUGS.

Know How To Protect Yourself From An Overdose

If you decide to use:

  • don’t mix with alcohol, or other drugs

  • don’t use alone – stay with a friend

  • know the signs of an opioid overdose

  • carry a naloxone kit

Vaccine

Naloxone Can Save a Life

Naloxone (pronounced na-LOX-own) is a fast-acting drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Naloxone can restore breathing within 2 to 5 minutes.

While naloxone is only active in the body for 20 to 90 minutes, the effects of most opioids last longer. This means that the effects of naloxone are likely to wear off before the opioids are gone from the body, which causes breathing to stop again. So, it is important to call for emergency medical attention. Naloxone may need to be used again, depending on the amount, type, or how the opioids were taken (for example: oral, injection).  

Naloxone is available without a prescription and can be picked up at most pharmacies or local health authorities. It is available in an injection or a nasal spray format.

Learn more about naloxone and where to find kits in your province or territory. 

Did you know?

The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act protects you from simple drug possession charges if you’ve taken drugs or have some on you. The law applies to the person who has overdosed, the person who seeks help, and anyone at the scene when help arrives.

Resource: Get help with substance use

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