According to a government survey conducted in 2012, 21.6% of people in Canada over the age of 15 experienced some form of substance abuse. Of this number, 18.1% abused alcohol. Substance abuse can have a big impact on physical and mental health, especially if the patient doesn’t get treatment quickly. Many patients develop life-long health consequences like organ damage or nerve damage because of this disorder.

What is substance abuse?

Any excessive or harmful consumption of psychoactive substances is considered substance abuse. If a patient consumes unhealthy amounts of a mind-altering substance and can’t stop, they need professional help. These patients develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol, experience withdrawal when they try to overcome the problem, and quickly fall back into their bad habits.

Different forms of substance abuse

The broadest definition of substance abuse includes a number of addictive items, all of them with psychoactive properties. Here’s a look at different forms of substance abuse:

  • Alcohol abuse – Alcohol abuse involves excessive and regular consumption of alcohol. There are two types of abuse in this category; drinking in social circumstances for pleasure or drinking because of anxiety or depression.
  • Illicit drug abuse – Illicit or illegal drugs like cocaine, meth, etc, contain highly addictive properties. It’s easy to develop a dependency on these substances and it becomes difficult to get off them. There’s also a pattern of escalation in illicit drug consumption because people need to take increasing amounts to reach the high they need.
  • Prescription drug abuse – Prescription drug abuse is prevalent because these substances are easy to access. Unfortunately, they can cause the same level of dependency as illicit drugs. There’s a risk of addiction, escalation, and even overdose. Some patients recognize their growing addiction to prescription medication early and seek assistance while others are more focused on controlling their health condition and don’t realize they’re dependent.

Addiction to tobacco can also be considered substance abuse. Many people don’t take tobacco addiction seriously because it doesn’t have an intense mind-altering effect that other substances do. Unfortunately, it has serious health consequences so smoking addiction should also be taken seriously. 


  • Inability to stop consuming alcohol or drugs.
  • Withdrawal symptoms that compel patients to fall back into bad habits.
  • Psychological symptoms like paranoia, anxiety, and violent mood swings.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Inability to handle social situations.
  • Drug overdose or alcohol poisoning.

Substance abuse can cause other mental health problems such as anxiety disorder, insomnia, panic attacks, depression, aggressiveness, etc. Sometimes substance abuse is a cause of these disorders and both of them need to be treated at the same time to ensure full recovery from addiction.

Substance abuse is a common and serious problem that can be treated with professional guidance. CBT has proven to be effective against substance abuse in most forms so it’s a good treatment option for patients. CBT Toronto is also effective against co-occurring mental illnesses so it is a comprehensive treatment.