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To fully understand the problem posed by the legalization of cannabis, one has to understand the underlying issue: addiction.

When a person is addicted, he or she is completely subjugated by their addiction and experiences a total loss of control and freedom. Addicted individuals cannot stop themselves from consciously perpetuating unwanted behavior that adversely affects them and the people around them.

Through the experiences and life stories recounted in our blog, we will try to understand addiction.

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The Two Faces of Drug Addiction

Without my consent, I was personally and quickly propelled into the world of drug addiction. For over 15 years, I had been suffering from a panic disorder that splattered my days with anxiety attacks, making my life hellish. Nausea, vertigo, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, the feeling of dying… The symptoms resembled those of a heart attack, and I was forced to avoid any situation that could bring them on.

I took the first pills because I wanted to live, be happy and flee from my mental pain. It’s only once I was addicted that I understood that while this pill allowed me to find relief and feel better, it was destroying my life. But it was too late: the drug had become the centre of my life, and the only solution to get out of my pain.

The Rat Park Study: Gaining a Better Understanding of Addiction

Bruce K. Alexander, a Canadian psychologist, led the Rat Park Study in 1978, thereby revolutionizing how addiction was understood. Just like us, rats are a social species, and they crave being in contact and communicating with their peers. And just like rats would, people isolated in a narrow, confined space would show little hesitation in using a narcotic substance freely supplied to them to counter boredom, loneliness, or more broadly, living conditions that are contrary to their well-being.

Alexander and his team built a park big enough to house 16 to 20 male and female rats. It was set up like a play park, a mini rat paradise complete with play wheels and balls, food, and space for mating. Several theories based on the hypothesis that the environment plays a key role in addiction were tested using four groups of rats.

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Are We All Equal in the Face of Addiction?

Making the bad decision to do drugs does not necessarily lead to addiction, but addiction definitely leads to making all the bad decisions.

I always thought becoming a drug addict could only happen to others. I became one myself fairly late, at about 35 year-old, having never taken any drugs or alcohol in my life. In fact, I was terrified of all drugs, of their ability to rob people of their self-control. I was a very anxious person to begin with, so taking drugs and running the risk of becoming an addict was outright unthinkable. I genuinely thought I’d be forever safe.

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About Portage

Portage is a Canadian non-profit organisation that helps people suffering from substance abuse-related problems to overcome their dependencies and live healthy, happy, and productive lives.

Since it was established in 1970, Portage has helped tens of thousands of people to take back control of their lives with its specialised drug rehabilitation programs for adolescents, adults, pregnant women and mothers with children, the aboriginal community, adults with mental health issues, and individuals referred by the justice system.

Portage Blog

addiction mental illness

Journey to the Heart of Addiction

01-11-2019

My journey began 34 years ago when I joined the Portage team to become a drug addiction counsellor. Today, I am the director of one of Portage’s innovative programs, the Mentally Ill Chemical Abusers (MICA) program. In 1984, Portage had already been in existence for more than a decade, but did not yet have the… Read more »

A Woman’s Path From Nurse to Director

12-19-2018

I’ve always wanted to help others, to serve something greater than myself and to make a difference. When I was younger, I always wanted to be involved in humanitarian efforts and dreamt of being part of Nurses Without Borders (NWB). Taking off to South America for example, to help those that are in need. But,… Read more »

legalisation cannabis

One Month After The Legalization of Cannabis

12-14-2018

After more than a month following the legalization of cannabis in Canada, many observations can be made. The cannabis shortage affecting many of the SQDC branches have forced the government to reduce store hours. The bold intentions of reducing the reach of the black market and increasing the quality of the distributed substances have been… Read more »

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