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The Windsor Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) works closely with community agencies and other healthcare professionals to prevent the problematic use of alcohol and other drugs, reduce associated harms, and promote awareness about treatment options related to problematic use.

Substance use refers to using substances that change our mood, consciousness or behaviour and that can be beneficial or harmful depending on the substance used, and the amount, method (e.g., needles or pills), how often, and the way in which they are used. Examples of substances include alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, and prescription medications.

Substance use is complex because some substances are legal (e.g., alcohol) and others are illegal (e.g., heroin), and not all substance use results in problematic behaviour or effects.

A substance use disorder is a pattern of thinking and behaving, where a person continues to use the substance despite the negative impact on their life, in areas such as employment, personal relationships, and physical and mental health.  Substance use disorder is also commonly referred to as an ‘addiction.’

Substance use impacts us all. In fact, about one in five people will have a substance use disorder during their lifetime.1 Preventing and recognizing a substance use problem early and getting treatment are the best ways to help keep you and your family healthy and safe.

For more information:

1Statistics Canada. (2012). Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health, 2012.