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A Basic Understanding of Addiction and When to Seek Help

Is drug and alcohol addiction a problem in your home?

If you are here reading this you are probably reading because you too are wondering if the alcohol and drug use of yourself or a loved one is becoming a problem in your home. The chances are if you have this question the answer is yes. One of the largest barriers for individuals and loved ones seeking help for substance addiction, is the denial of the severity of the addiction.

What is drug and alcohol addiction?

To begin this issue can be described as the over use and consumption of drugs or alcohol to the point where the use is interfering with your life. Interference with your life can look like problems with relationships with those around you, embarrassing social moments, unable to maintain employment, unable to perform work duties, unable to manage responsibilities

of home and life.

Drug and alcohol addiction may present as different levels of severity for each individual. This is important when considering help, because one person’s level of addiction may differ from another’s, and that individual may think they do not have a problem, because their addiction is not as bad as the other individual.

What leads to addiction?

There are many avenues which can lead an individual to addiction. One major cause is inability to manage emotions. This inability to manage emotions can be related to various stressors of life such as past traumatic experiences, mental health disorders, current life stresses such as inability to manage the household, family and finances. Not all individuals are equipped to regulate their emotions when dealing with these stressors which can lead them to self-medicating with substances.

In some case substances are used to keep individuals going and awake at work, for example those trying to juggle multiple jobs to earn more money, and thus engage in stimulants to stay awake. Some individuals may have had a hard day or week at work and engage in alcohol use to relieve the stress and pressure from the workday, or work friends gathering for a few drinks. Others may have various levels of pain, such as physical, emotional or mental pain and engage in opioid use to relieve that pain. Eventually these behaviours lead to dependence on the substance being used, meaning the person needs to use the substance daily to function.

As you can see, there are many different reasons why an individual may begin to engage in substance use.

When to seek help for substance use

As individuals suffering from substance addiction, or watching loved ones continue to abuse substances, we often wonder when is the issue bad enough to seek help. Using the 4 C’s can help put things into a better perspective. Dependence on a substance, or addiction, can be described by these 4 C’s:

  • Craving,

  • loss of control,

  • compulsion to use,

  • continued substance use despite consequences.

If you think you or a loved one is experiencing any or all of the 4 C’s, then it is time to seek help before it is too late.


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