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Programs - What is An Addiction?

An addiction is when a person has physically, intellectually, psychologically, and/or behaviorally lost the ability to control particular, habitual behaviors.

Every one of us has experienced difficult times in our lives and we each deal with them in our own way. Sometimes when life events get to be too much, some of us will turn to substances or activities that we think, at least initially, will make things easier.

Some people have turned to certain problematic behaviors for these reasons: to forget, feel numb, or push aside for the time being how one feels, relieve boredom, deal with childhood events and/or other traumas, handle loss or grief, manage identity (i.e., cultural, sexual) confusion, or help one become more sociable, popular, relaxed, or confident.


A common stereotype of an addict is a dirty, homeless person clenching a brown paper bag that conceals his liquor. Some people see addictions as being restricted to the abuse of alcohol and drugs (e.g., painkillers, marijuana, cocaine, and heroin). However, there are many different kinds of addictions that we may not readily recognize. Examples include:

  • Shopping
  • Television/ video games
  • Cigarettes
  • Gambling
  • Pornography (e.g., internet, videos, DVD's)
  • Sleeping pills
  • Caffeine (e.g., coffee and pop)

Obviously, some are more serious than others. However, they all represent different ways in which we may choose to deal with our problems.

If a person can acknowledge that he or she has learned unhealthy ways of dealing with his or her problems, then they can also learn more healthy alternatives.

Some warning signs

If the following warning signs sound like you or someone you care about, CFSO would like to help.

  1. Repeatedly missed work or failed to meet social or familial obligations as a direct or indirect result of his/ her problematic behaviour.
  2. Progressively needing to increase the amount of the substance/ behaviour to attain desired effect.
  3. Continue with problematic behaviour despite persistent attempts by others to discourage it.
  4. Insistence that the problematic behaviour is under control when it is clearly not.
  5. Engaging in risky behaviours such as having unprotected sex, sharing used needles, and/ or driving a vehicle while drunk or high.
  6. Continue with problematic behaviour and related activities despite being arrested, charged with a criminal offence, and/ or having spent time in jail.

What can be done?

The support of family and friends is one of the most important elements to changing one's behaviour. However, sometimes that is not enough. A professional counsellor or social worker may be able to help.

We all have our unique strengths and weaknesses. The goals of counselling are to explore and build upon what motivates us and to utilize these inner resources to get through the often difficult process of change.

It is important to realize that the way in which we choose to deal with our problems is only one part of us. CFSO's staff will treat a person with problem behaviour with dignity and respect.

The followings are a list of pamphlets on addiction that are available at Chinese Family Services of Ontario:

  1. What Is An Addiciton?
  2. Choosing Life Without Alcohol: What you can do!
  3. Choosing Life Without Drugs: What you can do!
  4. Alcoholism and Faimily Members.
  5. Drug Abuse and Family Members.
  6. Alcoholism and Youth.
  7. Drug Abuse and Youth

Note: All pamphlets are written in both Chinese and English.

For additional information or direct services, please contact our office at (416) 979-8299


Counselling Services

Settlement Services

Program for Problem Gamblers




December 2019

November 2019

(416) 979-8299 / 1-866-979-8298

[email protected]

3330 Midland Avenue, Suite 229, Scarborough, Ontario, M1V 5E7

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