What is Addiction or Substance Use Disorder?

In the not-so-distant past, there was a widespread belief that addiction was primarily characterized by a compulsive need to use substances daily. If someone didn’t display this level of dependence, they were often not considered to have a problem. However, this limited perspective failed to encompass all facets of addiction.

As our understanding of addiction grew, it became apparent that the severity of dependency could vary widely among individuals. Some people could develop addictive behaviours even if they didn’t consume substances daily. Instead, their addiction might manifest through intense cravings, difficulty controlling their use, and adverse effects in their lives.

Another viewpoint emerged, considering addiction from the perspective of withdrawal symptoms. If a person experienced physical or psychological distress when suddenly stopping substance use, they were perceived as having an addiction. This broader definition acknowledged that addiction wasn’t solely about the frequency of use but also the impact on one’s overall well-being.

phone Graphic

1 888-488-8434
Speak to a live agent

Or Contact us through
our form here.

Misconception and Stigmas Surrounding Addiction

There is a wide array of misconceptions surrounding drug addiction or alcoholism. A person who’s addicted does not use drugs or consume alcohol daily and does not necessarily experience physical withdrawal symptoms when they stops using.

A more significant part of addicted individuals are employed and seem to function normally. However, they do struggle with alcohol or drug use problems. Despite their substance use’s adverse effects, they still cannot have sufficient control to say NO. 

Homeless person with a dog
 A homeless man with his dog.

Stages of


 A skeleton holding a pill bottle.

Drug or Alcohol Addiction Devastation

Drug addiction and alcoholism are undoubtedly serious subjects and affect all areas and sectors of life and society. Substance abuse has shattered families, caused companies to spend enormous amounts of money, not to mention the cost to our social services. Drugs and alcohol do not discriminate according to age, sex, race, religion, or financial status.

No one ever starts using drugs to become hooked and develop a drug addiction problem. Young people don’t experiment with drugs so that they can purposely ruin their lives and the lives of all those around them.

Boredom is often a significant factor in experimental use. This premise, coupled with the individual’s perception that certain substances are not dangerous or toxic, makes for a potentially disastrous adventure. Also, movies, songs and our favourite actors often glorify drugs to entertain us.

 A woman vomitting.



 The human body.

A Definition for Addiction

Medical News Today defines addiction as “an inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behaviour even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.” It is engaging and not being able to stop a behaviour or using a substance despite adverse consequences. 

Alcohol and addictive drugs chemically kill physical or emotional pain and alter the mind’s perception of reality. They literally make people numb.

Predisposition or No Predisposition

There has been some talk about genetic or environmental predisposition for drug addiction or alcoholism. Many consider addiction a disease—the individual is ill for a lifetime, even after many years of sobriety. Some others will view it as something that can be surmountable and not a disease. 

For decades now, the scientific and research communities have debated this one aspect of addiction. Nonetheless, drug addiction treatment is needed no matter how or why the substance abuse started.

 A woman drinking alone and looking sad.

Alcohol and

Drug Induced Psychosis

 A woman talking to herself trough the wall.

But what is Drug Addiction?

It would be silly to say that no one at a young age dream of becoming an addict. So why does drug addiction or alcoholism happen?

Drug addiction treatment counsellors have found that addiction comes from physical or emotional pain or environmental hopelessness in many instances. At first, the individual feels better under the influence; it’s easier to relax, it’s easier to have fun, and unwind. Life is more enjoyable. Problems seem not to have the same weight. But after some time, drugs take on another aspect.

The Frequency of Consumption

Remember that no matter what frequency the individual uses is secondary to the consequences it provokes. He feels he needs the substance and can’t stop himself, even when his wife (or husband) gets angry. 

It doesn’t matter if a more significant percentage of his pay goes on drugs (alcohol). Addiction is present, even though he might not experience any withdrawal symptoms.

Difficulty in breaking using patterns is also a sign of addiction.

Let’s say he uses every weekend or once at the beginning of the month. He will be upset if it can’t occur.

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers abound. Many different programs cater to drug addiction and alcohol abuse. Choosing the proper drug rehabilitation program is essential. But, how does addiction start?

ARC Services Logo


Find out more about us.

Source: Medical News Today 

Picture of Marc J. Bernard

Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

phone Graphic

1 888-488-8434
Speak to a live agent

Or Contact us through
our form here.


Newsletter Sign up

Get news and helpful articles