Changing the Conversation

Changing the Conversation: Substance Use is Mental Health

Mental health challenges occur because of faulty chemical messaging in the brain, and each year, mental illness or substance use challenges affect 1 in 5 Canadians. Many people think about mental illness and substance use as different topics, but actually, they have a lot in common. They are a group of brain disorders that affect mood, thinking, and behaviour. It’s becoming less taboo to talk about mental health, but even though 33% of mental health issues are substance use challenges, they often get left behind in the conversation. Although you can’t see substance use the way you can see swelling on a knee or a broken bone on an X-ray, substance use challenges are treatable, especially when they’re uncovered early. Like other chronic illnesses, substance use is likely to affect someone you know and care about. 

The media tends to highlight drug use and the opioid crisis; as a result, many people don’t realize that alcohol is the most frequently consumed substance. Take British Columbia and Ontario, for instance; 44% and 47% of individuals reported drinking at least once a week, with 19% and 17% drinking at least once a month. 

Substance use becomes a habit because it activates the reward centres in the brain, which release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. But even moderate substance use can impact health and productivity because substances such as alcohol impact sleep, mood, anxiety and a host of other bodily systems. Knowing about your consumption behaviours in relation to the low-risk drinking guidelines can help. They’re similar to the Canadian food guide in that they offer insight into healthy consumption. The guidelines define standard drinks and provides limits to reduce long term health risks.

At ALAViDA we’re on a mission to help people reduce their drinking and regain control in their relationship with alcohol. We believe that process begins with a conversation with yourself.

This free self-assessment is designed to help you determine what your alcohol relationship status is, and what kind of help, if any, might be right for you. 

ALAViDA delivers confidential on-demand substance use care right to your smartphone. You can get help wherever you are, whenever you need it. With resources available 24/7, including coaches, therapists, and physicians, you can text or meet securely from your home. You can set your goals, and we will help you meet them. ALAViDA’s evidence-based approach helps you understand your substance use, strengthen decision-making, and take control. 

Ready to learn more? Check out other ALAViDA Resources. From webinars to whitepapers, articles and more, this hub of curated content gives you actionable tools to guide you or your company through challenges. 

Access the ALAViDA TRAiL app.