Understanding Substance Use and Abuse with MAP

Posted: 05/03/2017

A woman looking stressed while working on her laptopA special feature from Homewood Health, the Ontario legal profession’s Member Assistance Program (MAP).

Whether experimenting with recreational drugs, casual use of alcohol or using medically prescribed pharmaceuticals, most people have no desire to abuse these substances.

However, one in five Canadians in any given year will face an addiction, regardless of occupation.

Professionals, like lawyers and paralegals, may face additional difficulties when coping with work related stress and anxiety, as they often suppress emotions that they fear will be perceived as unprofessional conduct or behaviour.

With these added pressures, a substance abuse problem can manifest.

Warning signs that you may have a substance use problem:

  1. Cravings. You experience urges or cravings for the substance.
  2. Physical dependence. Feeling ill or functioning sub-optimally when the substance isn’t in your system.
  3. Tolerance. You need to consume higher quantities to solicit the desired effects.
  4. Withdrawal symptoms. You experience withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop using abruptly or when you are weaning yourself off the drug over a period of time.
  5. Poor judgement. You may do anything or engage in abnormal behaviour to obtain the substance.
  6. Drug-seeking. You spend excessive amounts of time and energy finding and getting your substance of choice.
  7. Financial trouble. You spend large amounts of money, drain your bank account, and go outside your budget to fulfil your need.
  8. Neglecting responsibilities. You choose using or getting the substance over meeting work or personal obligations.
  9. Unhealthy relationships. You spend time with others who have similar habits. You associate with a new group of people who may encourage unhealthy habits.
  10. Isolation. Alternatively, you are withdrawn and isolate yourself, hiding your substance abuse from friends and family.

What you can do if you have a substance use problem

  1. Detoxification period. Set a date when you will be clean and keep yourself accountable.
  2. Medication management. Speak to your doctor about medication management to help you manage the use of addictive medications.
  3. Group or Individual therapy. Seek support from local organizations or through your MAP provider to assist you in connecting with a professional to help you through this process.
  4. Relapse prevention education. Your MAP provider has programs and tools to support you in reducing your chances of relapsing after recovery.
  5. Outpatient treatment. Sometimes you need extra support in managing your addiction or substance use without having to undergo inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment allows you to maintain professional and personal obligations, while working towards sobriety.
  6. Inpatient or residential treatment. If you need professional support because your substance use has become unmanageable, inpatient treatment can be the solution to assist you in getting healthy.

Homewood Health™ provides the Member Assistance Program (MAP) for Ontario lawyers, paralegals, judges, students at Ontario law schools and accredited paralegal colleges, licensing-process candidates and their families. MAP is a confidential service funded by and fully independent of The Law Society of Upper Canada and LawPRO.  To learn more about the MAP, please visit myassistplan.com or call 1-855-403-8922.