Substance Abuse​

What is substance abuse?

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs. It involves the repeated and excessive consumption of these substances, often leading to negative consequences for the individual’s physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall functioning.

Substances commonly associated with abuse include:

  1. Alcohol: Excessive and frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  2. Illicit drugs: This category includes substances such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, and other illegal drugs.
  3. Prescription medications: Inappropriate use or misuse of prescription drugs, including painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants.


Substance abuse can manifest in various ways, and its impact can range from mild to severe. Signs of substance abuse may include:

  1. Loss of control: Difficulty controlling the amount or frequency of substance use.
  2. Neglect of responsibilities: Neglecting work, school, or family responsibilities due to substance use.
  3. Legal problems: Involvement in legal issues related to substance use, such as arrests or driving under the influence.
  4. Social and interpersonal problems: Difficulties in relationships, social isolation, or conflicts with family and friends.
  5. Physical and psychological consequences: Adverse effects on physical health, mental well-being, and overall functioning.

It’s important to distinguish between substance abuse and dependence. Substance dependence, also known as addiction, involves a physical and psychological reliance on a substance, often accompanied by withdrawal symptoms when the substance is not used. Substance abuse is a broader term that encompasses problematic substance use without meeting the criteria for dependence.

Treatment options​

Treatment for substance abuse often involves a combination of behavioural therapies, counselling, support groups, and, in some cases, medications. Recognizing the signs of substance abuse early and seeking help from healthcare professionals can be crucial for addressing the issue and promoting recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, seeking support from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist is recommended.

A man on a couch being treated with sedative IV therapy

Ketamine Assisted Therapy (KaT)

Substance abuse includes conditions such as alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder, and cocaine use disorder, to name just a few. With regards to alcohol use disorder and ketamine-assisted therapy, one study found a 75% abstinence rate among the ketamine participants compared to the control group. Ketamine-assisted therapy has been shown to reduce opiate related cravings and help maintain abstinence. Similar results exist for stimulant type substances such as cocaine.

A woman on a couch in therapy


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counselling, is a well-established technique that has been an effective modality for those with a substance disorder. Cognitive behavioural therapy, motivational interviewing, twelve-step facilitation, and group therapy are some of the behavioural techniques that have been shown to be effective for the treatment of substance abuse and addiction.

A woman receiving rTMS, with a doctor positioning a machine near her head.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)​

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive medical treatment that regulatory authorities have approved for the treatment of various neuropsychiatric conditions. While rTMS has been shown to be effective in reducing cravings and usage there still exist uncertainties with regard to the optimized parameters on how rTMS might help those with substance use disorders.

A group of people seated in comfortably in a furnished office space.

Special Access Program (SAP)

Health Canada’s Special Access Program enables the use of certain psychedelic substances that are not marketed in Canada as requested by practitioners.Access is typically granted for treating, diagnosing, or preventing serious or life-threatening conditions when conventional therapies or medications have failed. As of right now those with substance use disorders aren’t typically granted into the SAP unless they qualify as being in immediate life-threatening danger. SAP applications are analyzed case by case and, therefore, may be an option for those with debilitating SUD.

Reach Out

If any of this strikes a chord for you or for a loved one, please take some time to reflect on these considerations before reaching out to us to book an Info Session. From there, we can support you in determining whether one of our treatments could be right for you, and how to begin your healing journey with Cena Life.