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Substance Use and Addictions

Problem Substance Use

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Navigating substance use issues can be confusing and challenging for both individuals and their families. This is magnified by the fact that substance addiction is highly stigmatized and often poorly understood, keeping people from reaching out for support despite the existence of evidenced based, scientifically supported treatment. 

At Paradigm Psychology, we recognize the courage it takes to ask for help. In delivering services, we emphasize dignity and compassion. We have extensive experience providing substance abuse services to individuals and family members, including compressive assessment and treatment. We have a strong understanding of existing resources within Alberta and Western Canada and will provide appropriate recommendations when needed.

If you are interested in knowing more about our services or would like to speak with a psychologist for a free 20-minute phone consult, please contact Joel.

 

Gaming/Social Media Addiction

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Similar to gambling, video game addiction or gaming disorder was recently recognized by the World Health Organization as a mental health condition (World Health Organization, ICD-11). Although only a portion of gamers will go on to develop an addiction, many video games possess addictive properties including gambling. For example, many video games possess what have been termed as loot boxes, where gamers can obtain rewards at random (similar to that of a slot machine) by cashing in credits earned within the game or monies spent online. Those who develop gaming addiction may develop serious consequences in areas such as scholastic performance, their social life or within their family. As with other addictions, we offer counselling and family therapy services that can help individuals address problematic gaming.

 

Gambling

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Process addictions can lead to equally devastating outcomes; however, relative to substance addiction, there tends to be greater misunderstandings within the public that process addictions represent a bona fide mental health condition. For example, gambling addiction, or disordered gambling, is recognized as a mental illness within the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2015). People with disordered gambling demonstrate significant difficulties discontinuing their gambling behaviour, tolerance (requiring larger bets to obtain the same effect), loss of control and even withdrawal symptoms (i.e., restlessness and irritability) when they are unable to gamble. Those addicted to gambling often find themselves in a vicious cycle of continuing to lose more monies in hopes of winning back previous losses. This cycle can lead to familial distress, strained marriages, bankruptcy and in some extreme cases, criminal behaviour to support gambling. At Paradigm Psychology we have special expertise in working with individuals with gambling addiction and have a strong understanding of how to deliver interventions best suited to helping individuals discontinue their gambling behaviour. 

Spectrum of Substance Use

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Consistent with the most recent advances in the field, we understand substance use issues as existing along a spectrum. On the least severe end of the spectrum is recreational or non-problematic use, while substance use disorders, more commonly referred to as substance addiction, exist on the other end. Understanding where someone falls along the spectrum lends to the tailoring of interventions and services to suit individual needs. For some, brief counselling with some psycho-education may be sufficient, while others may require more intensive services such as medically assisted detox and residential treatment. At Paradigm Psychology, we provide professional assistance and assessment services to help determine the most appropriate approach to treatment. We also facilitate care for those requiring less intensive treatment services.