Hey…National Addictions Awareness Week is November 12 – 18. It caused me to remember how I gave my poor mother a lot to worry about for many years because of my addiction to alcohol, but thankfully, I was able to stop drinking and she saw me sober for quite a while before her passing.

Today, I know I can’t even have one drink, or I will soon be right back to where I was before I stopped drinking! As a recovering alcoholic I like to raise awareness. Right on.

People may become addicted to alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs and things like nicotine and caffeine. While I will be focusing on addiction to alcohol and drugs, people can also be addicted to activities and behaviors like gambling, eating, computer use and sex. Eschia!

The Health and Social Services website says we can use the four C’s to see whether or not a loved one is in big trouble with addictions. So, what are the four C’s?

Compulsion: The addict feels an overpowering urge to use. In the early stages of addiction, a person’s substance use may be impulsive, but it soon becomes compulsive–meaning his not using will cause him agonizing anxiety and mess up his other activities.

Craving: The addict’s urge to use is so great that it feels like a physical need, like craving food when hungry or water when you’re thirsty. While the drug is destructive, it has become associated with a vital, life-giving action. Whew!

Consequences: A person continues to use substances even though it has negative consequences. Each person’s “negative consequences” are different, but look for an increase in things like car accidents, blackouts, visits to the emergency room, trouble at work and conflict.

Control: The person can no longer control how, or if he uses. There’s a big problem if he plans to only have two beers a day, but drinks a six pack every day! In early addiction, people try to reduce or stop using drugs on their own. Failure often results in the addiction veering out of control. Professional help and support is usually now needed. Yup, I remember that alright.

Remember, the addict may think he can quit when he wants. Not! He may think he can use because he works hard, or has problems coping with things like stress, marital issues, or work. Often the addict can’t see the damage his alcohol or drug use causes.

If you’re looking at a loved one’s substance abuse problems and you’re wondering how many of the C’s have to be present before a person is addicted, the answer is one. Just one.

Please understand, these C’s don’t come alone. One brings the rest, sooner or later. That is the horrible reality of addiction. Oh man, I know that’s not what you wanted to hear, but if any of the C’s are present, it’s time to get professional help.

Getting Help with Addictions

Contact your local Community Counselling Program if you want information on addictions. They can go through the options available to you, including going for treatment.

Most Communities have community wellness plans that include mental health and addictions options. Your local Band or Hamlet office should have information on your local community wellness plan.

Community-based (outpatient) Treatment include counselling, day programs and group therapy for participants, who can continue with their daily lives. A community counsellor or wellness worker will know what programs are available in your community.

Facility-Based (inpatient) Treatment for addictions is available in approved facility-based treatment centers in southern Canada, usually in Alberta and British Columbia. You have to be referred by someone, usually an addictions counselor.

Many employers have an Employee Assistance Program that will help with addictions as well.

NWT Quitline is a confidential service that provides trained Cessation Counsellors, personalized call back programs and reading materials to help quit smoking.  Call 1-866-286-5099, 24 hours a day.

Young people who need someone to talk to can call the Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or go to www.kidshelpphone.ca.

The NWT Help Line provides confidential and anonymous support and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained counsellors can help you with many issues including: stress management, suicidal thoughts, abuse, sexual assault, and depression. Call 1-800-661-0844.

Have a good week, and be aware of the four C’s.

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