New Year New Me? Part 2

Hana Wernick ·

· 5 min read

This is a continuation of the previous blog post. In the last segment I discussed Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and some general information regarding the condition. With this second part I hope to dive into the manifestation of depression by means of substance abuse. Addiction is a side of mental health that is less openly discussed in public discourse surrounding mental health.

"Addiction is characterized by behaviours that have become out of control, such as gambling or alcohol and other drug use.” (1) As noted by CAMH addiction and substance abuse commonly occurs jointly with other mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and can also be responsible for mental health challenges newly presenting themselves. (2) Addiction is more common in Canada than you might have been led to believe, and because it often goes hand in hand with other mental health issues, it can therefore go undetected. In 2013, roughly 21.6 out of all Canadians had qualified for having suffered from substance abuse disorders. (3) Overall men are more likely to partake in illegal substance use and that young adults in the age category of 20-24 as per Health Canada are of the highest likelihood of using. (4)

Alcohol, illegal and illicit drugs, pornography, gambling, and prescription drugs are some of the more known substances however there is very little limit to what can be fueling a person’s addiction. Some of the more common indicators of addiction are “inability to abstain, little control over behaviour, craving or ‘hunger’ for substances or rewarding experiences, decreased ability to recognize major problems in their behaviour and relationships, and a problematic emotional response.” (5) This is however a generalization as it can manifest differently for each individual.

Overall, addiction can have a huge impact on a person’s life, even resulting in death. The impacts on day-to-day life are huge and can affect not only relationships with others and general physical health, but put a strain on one’s own ability to function in society. (6) Stigma surrounding addiction has led a narrative driven by fear and misunderstanding about it which in turn has led to prejudice and “unfounded and biased opinions.” (7) The sensations of shame and hopelessness can be exacerbated by public discourse about addiction and pose a threat to the recovery and continued wellbeing of current and former addicts. (8)

There is still many barriers that limit access to care for addiction such as but not limited to “delays for treatment, lack of professional help for mental health or emotional problems, including substance use and gambling problems, cost of services, lack of programs or supports, quality of services, lack of programs that meet cultural needs or are in a preferred language.” (9) Budget cuts in mental health services and general care have put a strain on already existing services and has greatly lessened the accessibility of care for many.

Treatment for addiction varies from on a case by case basis, but it can often include a form of therapy, private or group. (10)

Addiction comes in many forms and people will each have their own unique experience with it. Ending the stigma surrounding those who suffer from addiction and bringing more awareness to the general public is one of the ways we can shed some more light onto the situation and hope to build ways towards a future with more open discourse, resources, and community support. _________________________

1 “Key Messages,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 14, 2021,

2 “Co-occurring disorders,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 15, 2021, 3 “How common is addiction?,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 17, 2021,

4 Ibid.

5 “Addiction: definitions and key concepts,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 18, 2021, id=82&chapterid=94.

6 “How common,” CAMH.

7 “Impact of prejudice and discrimination,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 19, 2021, id=82&chapterid=109.

8 Ibid. “Access to care,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 20, 2021,

10 “Treatment,” Addiction 101, CAMH, accessed January 20, 2021,

About Hana Wernick