Calgary Dream Centre
4510 Macleod Trail SW Calgary AB T2G 0A4 (403) 243-5598

Understanding Addiction: Breaking Down Stereotypes

It doesn’t take a lot of time to find there is a lot more to every story of addiction than what meets the eye. The struggles of those affected may not show in our day to day lives, but it’s an enemy Calgarians and Canadians are up against every day.

But what are our first steps to help those struggling with addiction? The Calgary Dream Centre is looking to break down stereotypes commonly associated with addiction and help the community understand the effect this has on individuals. Once we can break through stigmas and stereotypes often attributed to addiction, we can start to properly treat the issue on a mass scale.

Addiction Is A Disease, Not A Habit

One of the first hurdles to jump over when dealing with addiction is to understand that this is a disease and not just a habit. The difference between the two might not always be clear, but it is very important to understand the distinction to help those struggling.

Addiction can take many forms, but some of the most common can be mental and physical dependence. 

Mental dependence may show up as “triggers”; anything that can set off the psychological need for drugs or alcohol. Triggers can be simple or complex, and there are cases where those with an addiction problem might not even know what their triggers may be. 

Physical dependence can take a serious toll on the body, as the very act of quitting or detoxing can make an individual incredibly sick. The pain of this sickness is enough to keep bringing those with addiction problems back to drugs or alcohol.

You Are Not Alone

Many of those who need treatment often never look for help because of the stigma of being less than human or a burden on society. This is not true. Care professionals are there to set patients on the right track to recovery. By speaking to a doctor or care professional, those afflicted can set up goals and be held accountable for reaching them. 

Anyone facing an addiction problem deserves to be treated properly, and care professionals are available across Calgary and The Calgary Dream Centre to help those looking to recover.

Anyone Can Be Addicted To Anything

A common misconception is that there are substances that you can not be addicted to. This is not true. Anything that someone can form a dependence on can be abused. Addiction does not discriminate, either. People from every walk of life can find themselves caught in a battle with addiction that can affect them and their loved ones.

Cannabis, though known to be less addictive than opioids, alcohol, or tobacco, can still develop addictions in individuals who regularly use the drug.

Treatment Is Available to Everyone, Not Just Those Who Want it

Some believe that the first step to recovery has to be hitting rock bottom first before seeking treatment. But how do we tell if a person has hit that point in their addiction? All individuals are different so we must look at every addiction as different as well.  If we related addiction support to a physical problem, recovery could look different. For example, if a person breaks their leg, they do not have to break every bone in their body to seek medical assistance. Early intervention can provide many benefits to modifying maladaptive behaviours, rather than waiting for that rock bottom moment. 

The road to recovery is long and arduous, and some do not want to take the first step. This does not mean they are untreatable. Professionals are trained extensively to give the best treatment possible for their patients, even if they are not looking for it. 

Even if you do not struggle with addiction, talking to a professional can give you the right guidance on how to help someone who is.

Smashing Stigmas

There is still a lot we can do as a community to help those suffering from substance abuse and addiction. By understanding and correcting common misconceptions, we can start rebuilding lives and put our loved ones on the right track to recovery.

Take the time to speak to those suffering from substance abuse, or even volunteer with us to help make a bigger difference in our community. With your help, we can continue to help those who need it most.

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  • Written by Chris Sciberras

    Director of Program and Mental Health Clinician Chris is a Registered Provisional Psychologist with a Masters of Counselling from the University of Calgary and a Bachelors of Counselling from the Australian College of Applied Psychology. For the past decade, he has worked extensively with youth, adults, and families in a variety of capacities, with a focus on mental well-being and addiction recovery. Chris has served as the Mental Health Clinician and Program Director at the Calgary Dream Centre since 2017. Prior to joining the Dream Centre, Chris worked in the school system as a Mental Health Counsellor. Chris is passionate about supporting clients at the Dream Centre and helping them along their path of recovery. Chris is originally from Australia, has travelled to over 30 countries, and now happily calls Calgary home.

    More Articles by Chris Sciberras

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    The Calgary Dream Centre acknowledges with humble gratitude that our organization is located on the traditional territories of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Iyarhe Nakoda Nations, the Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta District 6, and all people who make their homes in the Treaty 7 region of Southern Alberta.