Risk Factors

  • Emotional stress plays a significant role in the development of an addictive behaviour. An addicted individual may abuse substances in the hope to blunt the psychological pain associated with emotional stress, depression, previous physical or sexual abuse, grief, PTSD, etc.

  • An individual is at much higher risk of becoming addicted to substances if they have a first degree relative that has also suffered from addiction.

  • Men have twice the incidence of addiction than females.

  • Lack of social supports and family can increase the risk of becoming addicted to substances.

Am I an Addict?

  • Some people suffering from addiction may not even know they are addicted. They may not know that their behaviour is out of control and causing serious problems to themselves and people close to them.

Some of the signs of addiction include:

  • Physical withdrawal if one stops taking the substance of abuse. In the case of opiate abuse this can include sweats, chills, muscle aches, insomnia, irritability, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Tolerance: the diminished effect/‘high’ with the same amount of drug use OR increasing amount used to achieve desired effect
  • Inability to cut down on drug use or continued use despite being aware of negative consequences
  • Increasing amounts or duration of substance use than was intended
  • Excessive amount of time spent pursuing drugs/substances
  • Negative impact on family, social, work, recreational activities due to drug use


"There is no person walking the face of the earth who demonstrates more courage, dignity, and integrity, on a daily basis, than an addict in recovery."

                                                                                                                                  - Anonymous


  Treatment Options

  Addiction is treatable!

  • There are many treatment options available for addiction however at Vista Health Clinics we focus on a kind of treatment called Agonist Replacement Therapy where we prescribe Agonists such as Methadone or Suboxone in order to replace the opiate in a person suffering from opiate addiction.
  • The first phase in treating addiction is to aid in the physical effects of withdrawing from the substance a person is addicted to. In opiate addiction this can include withdrawal symptoms such as: nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, muscle cramps and aches, sweats/chills/shakes, insomnia.
  • With Agonist Replacement Therapy  the opiate substance the person is addicted to is being replaced Opiate Agonist and as such withdrawal symptoms are minimized or even eliminated.
  • The physical side of addiction can be stabilized within a few days to weeks
  • The second (and more complicated) phase in treating addiction focuses on the psychological effects of addiction.
  • Anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings cause significant suffering to people suffering from addiction.
  • There are ways to help treat these conditions that may include counselling and/or medical therapy
  • Likewise, treatment for impulse control, urges and cravings may require counselling as well as education on techniques to reduce the risk of relapsing into drug use.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is one of these techniques which help a patient identify, avoid, and cope with situations where they might be likely to use drugs.

What is Addiction?

  • Addiction is a condition where an individual engages in an activity which, initially and in moderation, may be pleasurable however has escalated to a point where continued engagement becomes compulsive and interferes with their life, work responsibilities, personal relationships, and health.

  • Addiction can develop towards the ingestion of a substance, such as opiates, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine. Or in the engagement of an activity, such as gambling, exercise, shopping, sex.

  • Physical addiction occurs when the body adapts to the presence of a drug/substance such that it no longer has the same effect, requiring the person to take ever increasing amounts of the drug/substance. This is referred to as tolerance. Another indication of physical addiction is when a person stops consuming the drug/substance and suffers physical symptoms of withdrawal.

  • Psychological addiction (“mental addiction”) is a more complicated process. It describes the situation where an addicted individual reacts to thoughts or stimuli in the environment which prompts them to pursue the activity or use the drug/substance.