Addiction affects people of all ages and walks of life, and it is reported that “1 in 10 Canadians 15 years of age and over report symptoms consistent with alcohol or illicit drug dependence” (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2011). Addiction can occur to alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, sex, and other rewarding behaviours.
People, once addicted, mistakenly believe that they can use alcohol and other drugs without harming themselves or other people. Addicts also believe that they can stop using their drug of choice any time they want.
Recovery from addiction is a life long process and begins when the person reaches a point at which they decide they cannot live the way they have been any longer.
I am a Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist (CMAT). Since many people who suffer from addiction often are addicted to more than one substance or behavior, proper assessment for multiple addictions is necessary. The interaction of these addictions can affect treatment and recovery.
According to the addictionsandrecovery.org website, you can take this short quiz to determine if you are addicted to a substance:
“Answer yes or no to the following seven questions. Most questions have more than one part, because everyone behaves slightly differently in addiction. You only need to answer yes to one part for that question to count as a positive response.
- Tolerance: Has your use of drugs or alcohol increased over time?
- Withdrawal: When you stop using, have you ever experienced physical or emotional withdrawal? Have you had any of the following symptoms: irritability, anxiety, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting?
- Difficulty controlling your use: Do you sometimes use more or for a longer time than you would like? Do you sometimes drink to get drunk? Do you stop after a few drink usually, or does one drink lead to more drinks?
- Negative consequences: Have you continued to use even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family?
- Neglecting or postponing activities: Have you ever put off or reduced social recreational, work, or household activities because of your use?
- Spending significant time or emotional energy: Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from your use? Have you spend a lot of time thinking about using? Have you ever concealed or minimized your use? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?
- Desire to cut down: Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your use? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your use?
If you answered yes to at least 3 of these questions, then you meet the medical definition of addiction. This definition is based on the of American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) and the World Health Organization (ICD-10) criteria”.
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