How does someone become addicted. In my CEO message I talk about how an addicted person is often associated with the picture of a person on skid row drinking out of a paper bag or poking a needle in his or her arm. When individuals first start to use addictive substances, it is never with the intention to become addicted. Substance abuse is a phenomenon that slowly seduces the individual with its false promises and deceptive illusions. Vancouver, partly because of our climate and our status of a port city, have combined with other factors to create a systemic substance abuse problem. Following are the typical pattens we see when it comes to substance abuse in Vancouver. If you or anyone you know is struggling with a substance abuse issue, HeartQuest provides some proven solutions. Call Cory personally at 604.818.1771 or  Click here to send Cory an email.


1)         No Use

- approximately 20% of the people in our society do not use any mood altering substances for non-medicinal purposes.


2)         Initial Use

- motivation comes from personal curiosity & peer pressure

- this stage is highlighted by experimentation and adventure

- willingness of person to choose to use

- availability of substance of choice to use

- may be a separate and distinct experience for each substance tried

- recent trends show this pattern occurring most often in adolescence but also occurring at younger ages


3)         Irregular Use

- responsible use on an irregular basis

- no substance seeking behavior except monetary preparation

- the choice process is still heavily involved

- use of substances only during non-work periods

- substance use fun and enjoyable with very few side effects

- use generally motivated by larger event (party, holiday, special dinner, etc.) rather than individual need

- approximately 20% of people in our society are irregular users


4)         Regular Use

- use motivated more by personal initiation rather than by the event

- use mood altering substances more than 3 times per month

- substance seeking and substance use take up a larger amount of time

- substances are now being used to compensate for anxiety or stress

- more regular use of addictive substances (habit formation)

- loss of control over the use of the substances may begin to happen

- more severe side effects happen (blackouts, hangovers, etc.)

- some personal concerns (guilt) by the user may occur in this pattern and attempts at control and / or abstinence

- approximately 40% of people in our society are regular users


5)         Problem / Intensified Use

- frequency of use varies widely and may range from daily to binge use

- 10% of people in our society are problem users experiencing some of the following problems:


a) Loss Of Control

- use of substance beyond what was intended most of the time

- control lost to the point where the person can control onset of using but has little control over amount used


b) Compulsion

- when substance use takes up an extraordinary amount of time

- always an excuse to use the substance (always an alibi after)



c) Continued Use In spite Of Negative Consequences

- lots of denial (refusal to see facts as they really are and refusal to deal with consequences of their actions) 

- rationalization and blame help the person to justify the drug use in spite of nameless fears and anxieties (shame)

- substance use now has a bigger priority that relationships, friends, health, career, or other major life areas

- tendency to objectify relationships

- possibly suicidal


6)         Addicted / Dependent Use

- inability to predict or control consumption of substance

- entire life depends on the use of the substance (obsessed)

- can’t function without the drug and severe withdrawal reactions occur with abstention

- medical complications due to the substance use

- continued use even though this use threatens their life, health, job, marriage, and family

- completely physically and psychologically addicted

- death through complications or accident a real possibility

- approximately 10% of people in our society are substance dependent