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Addiction treatment, diagnosis & prescriptions

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Can I talk to a doctor on Maple about addiction?

Yes, you can. The doctor will want to discuss the signs of addiction that you’re experiencing, as well as your personal and family medical histories. They’ll also want to know about your habits and routines, as well as what steps you’ve tried to control addictive tendencies. In addition to seeing a general practitioner, if you live in Ontario you can see an Addiction Management Specialist for alcohol related additions.

In many cases, the healthcare professional will want to do a physical exam and refer you to a psychotherapist before offering a diagnosis of addiction.

If your addiction symptoms are severe, they may suggest additional medical services, such as inpatient addiction treatments for managing withdrawal from addictions. This may also be necessary to prevent relapses in addiction.

Can I get a prescription on Maple?

Yes. Our physicians can prescribe non-controlled medications for addictions online during your visit. Once you accept an addiction prescription, you’ll have the option to pick it up from a pharmacy near you or have it delivered to your door at no additional cost.

You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.

What is addiction?

Addiction is a chronic dysfunction that involves memory, motivation, and rewards. This causes a person to engage in compulsive behaviors that offer some form of physical or psychological pleasure or “reward”.

There are many different catalysts that can cause addiction in certain people, although most think of substance use disorder in relation to addiction.

When a person repeats a behavior or uses a substance despite known detrimental consequences, it could be considered an addiction. There is some evidence that addictive behaviors may involve the neurotransmitter dopamine, which affects the reward and reinforcement pathways in the brain.

Many people that experience addictions also have co-occurring mental health illnesses, such as depression or anxiety.

There are four stages to addiction, increasing in severity. They are:

  • Stage 1 – experimentation
  • Stage 2 – social or regular use
  • Stage 3 – problem or risk
  • Stage 4 – dependency
What are the symptoms of addiction?

Many of the symptoms and signs of addiction relate to the effect addiction has on their ability to maintain self-control.

This can affect a number of different parts of their lives, or present as physical symptoms. In some cases, the person experiencing the addiction may be hesitant to seek help because their addiction is affecting their state of mind.

You can watch for signs of addiction like:

  • Craving to use a substance or engage in an activity
  • Engaging in the addition, despite physically risky situations
  • Continued use, despite causing or worsening known physical or psychological problems
  • Use of substance or activity consumes a significant portion of time, affecting other normal routines
  • Showing signs of withdrawal when forced to abstain from their habit for any length of time
  • Participating in regular parts of life or obligations less than normal or stopping completely
  • Using a substance or participating in an activity much more often than intended
  • Tolerance occurs, wherein they must use more of the substance or spend more time to satiate their cravings
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other passions
  • A continual desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut back on indulging in the addiction
  • Changes in personality, especially when in withdrawal
  • Memory loss or selective memory
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
  • Behavioral changes (irritability, increased secrecy)
  • Seeking out situations that encourage participating in the addiction
  • Blaming others or outside factors for their behaviors
  • Severe reactions to stress
  • Unexplained sweating
  • Headaches or migraines when without their addiction
  • Increased anxiety, depression or lethargy
  • Unrealistic assessments of the benefits and detriments to continuing their addiction
  • Loss of appetite (especially when in withdrawal)
  • Anger, defensiveness or hostility, especially when confronted about their addiction
What causes addiction?

When most people think about what causes addiction, they refer to addictions like substance use disorder (SUD). These are addictions that intensely focus on using certain substances, and continue using these substances even after knowing they cause harm or impair daily life.

Some common SUD addictions include:

  • Tobacco
  • Marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Stimulants (cocaine, methamphetamines)
  • Opioids (oxycodone, heroine, codeine)
  • Hallucinogens (PCP, LCD)
  • Inhalants (paint thinner, glue)

However, there are many other substances that can cause signs of addiction in certain people. Some of these other types of addiction include:

  • Gambling
  • Working
  • Technology
  • Food
  • Coffee or caffeinated beverages
  • Sex

In some cases, people can become addicted to certain emotions like anger or love, as an emotional coping strategy.

There are also a number of biological, environmental, and psychological factors that can cause a predisposition for addiction. These are factors such as:

  • Personality traits
  • Physiological factors
  • Gender
  • Peer group
  • Employment status
  • Genetics
  • Trauma
  • Abuse
  • Mental health conditions
  • Accessibility
How is addiction diagnosed?

Addictions are complex and thus can be complicated to diagnose. Before offering a diagnosis for addiction, the healthcare professional will want to discuss your concerns, including the particular substance or behaviour in question. This will include frequency, amount, and route of use.

The healthcare professional will want to know the patient’s perception of the situation and assess their readiness for change. They will also want to know about any prior treatments they’ve had for this addiction.

Your overall health, mental health, family history of addiction, and social history are also important factors to be discussed. This includes topics such as relationships, employment, and living situations.

The healthcare professional will want to perform a physical exam and may refer you to a mental health provider for further evaluation.

Once a full assessment of your condition is complete, your healthcare team will be able to discuss a diagnosis of addictions and appropriate addiction treatments options.

How is addiction treated?

The type of addiction treatments that may work for you will depend on many factors, including the type of addiction or severity of the addiction symptoms you’re experiencing, as well as your strengths and individual challenges. No single treatment type will work for everyone, but recovery is possible for everyone. Some frequently used addiction treatments include:

  • Detoxification (under supervision)
  • Group therapy or peer-support programs
  • Family therapy
  • Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Regular monitoring with the doctor to track any addiction relapses
  • Life skills training

In some cases, when illicit substances are part of the addiction, the healthcare provider may suggest certain prescription addiction medications. These would be to reduce withdrawal symptoms, as well as counter other factors that could trigger relapses, such as anxiety and depression.

When to talk to a doctor about addiction?

If you or someone you love can’t stop using a substance or performing an activity, it’s time to talk to a healthcare provider.

Addictions can be incredibly difficult to overcome, and often require the assistance of family, friends, and medical professionals to get under control. You shouldn’t be embarrassed about your addiction, and if someone you love may have an addiction, they may need help quitting.

A healthcare provider from Maple can help provide an addiction diagnosis when necessary, and start you on the path towards healing and better health. They can also suggest addiction treatments to help you beat your addiction, including any necessary prescription addiction medications.

What is Maple?

With Maple, you can start talking to a healthcare professional about your symptoms in a matter of minutes. We’re a healthcare app for fast, convenient 24/7 access to Canadian doctors and healthcare professionals.

You simply log in, tap a button to request a consultation, and we’ll immediately connect you to a doctor via live chat or video. You can visit our How it Works page to learn more.

Our healthcare teams can assess symptoms, and provide treatment, including prescriptions as necessary.

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