What is Addiction and Substance Misuse?
Problematic substance use is the use of any psychoactive substance in a manner, situation, amount, or frequency that is harmful to the individual or to society.  Addiction is characterized by behaviours that have become out of control, such as gambling or alcohol and other drug use. Many people with a substance use or gambling problem have a co-occurring mental health problem.
Many people with a substance use or gambling problem have a co-occurring mental health problem. Trauma, especially in childhood, is often linked to addiction problems and is more likely to affect the most vulnerable people and populations. 
FACTS AND STATS
- Canadians use alcohol most commonly. In 2015, 3.3 million Canadians consumed enough alcohol to be at risk for immediate injury, while at least 4.3 million consumed enough to be at risk for long-term health effects such as liver damage.
- Almost 4 million Canadians aged 15 years and older reported that they used at least one illegal substance in the past year. Illegal substances included cannabis, cocaine/crack, ecstasy, hallucinogens, heroin or speed/methamphetamines.
- Drug use and abuse in Canada is a problem that not only ruins the lives of the users and their families, but also costs taxpayers $22.8 billion per year. This cost is from treatment for drug abusers, as well as hiring additional law enforcement and equipment. 
Why is it Important?
Addiction can affect all parts of a person’s life, including their physical health, brain function, emotional well-being, finances, work life and social relationships, including with family. Each family member is uniquely affected by a person’s substance use or gambling problem.
Problems occur when substance use causes harm to an individual, their family and friends, or their communities.
Problematic substance use is an ongoing public health and safety concern in Canada. It is estimated that approximately one in five Canadians aged 15 years and older experiences a substance use disorder in their lifetime.
The estimated total cost to society of alcohol and illegal drug use in 2014 was $38.4 billion, with tobacco and alcohol accounting for almost 70% of the total. 
What Does it Look Like?
The indicators of addiction can be summarized using the memory aid ABCDE (ASAM, 2011):
- 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
- a problematic emotional response.