Addiction may be more complex than you realize. It’s a disease that affects many people from all walks of life. It can happen to anyone. You might even know someone who struggles with alcohol, or who is overusing their prescription medicine.

21% of Canadians will struggle with addiction during their lifetime


We often make assumptions about what addiction looks like. However, each person has a different experience. Though addiction can be visible, it is often hidden from others.

Substance use and addictive behaviour can begin at a young age – often as a way to cope with trauma. Trauma responses are natural responses to overwhelming circumstances, but they can feel uncomfortable and hard to manage. At any age, individuals may use substances or certain behaviours (ie gambling or excessive internet use) to reduce stress or feel in control after a traumatic event. The behaviours or substances they engage in may then lead to an addiction.


Alcohol is something that most people use, but not everyone can control how much they drink. Problem drinking occurs when the amount they drink starts to have an impact on their daily life. This can involve weekend binge drinking, a daily need to drink, or even occasional blackout drinking. Sometimes it can sneak up on people and take a while to notice.


30% of Ontarians report drinking more due to the COVID-19 pandemic


The opioid crisis is affecting our entire community. These are people who are loved, have value, and are part of our community. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends and they need help.

Opioids are often prescribed for pain relief, but are highly addictive and can be lethal in high doses. Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid which is linked to fatal overdoses and drug contamination poisonings within the community.


The stigma attached to addiction can make it difficult for individuals to find the help they need. The language we use when discussing addiction or referring to a person experiencing this disease can either reinforce negative stereotypes or contribute to a more caring and empathetic community.



What is Addiction?  In-depth definition of addiction by Psychology Today

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Educational courses and resources

The X-Factor – Article on connection between traumatic brain injury and addiction

Difference Between Drug Toxicity & Drug Overdose

TED Ed: What causes opioid addiction, and why is it so tough to combat?

Addiction Circuitry in the Human Brain

Understanding Addiction – Causes

Harm Reduction

What is Harm Reduction?

Supervised Injection Services: A Harm Reduction Program

Waterloo Region Resources

Information on the opioid crisis in Waterloo Region:

100 people died of opioid overdoses in Waterloo Region last year

WR Opioid Response Update (2018)

WR Integrated Drugs Strategy Opioid Bulletin (Quarterly Report)


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