Recognize non-substance addictions

Mental Health Brief #9

Recognize non-substance addictions

Understanding when habits become addictions is part of having a proactive approach to maintaining good health. Knowing their individual characteristics is vital to preventing addictions before they reveal themselves, and this is a good start to improving our well-being.

Below are two examples of non-substance addictions, and their characteristics.

  • Gambling. Problem gamblers typically continue to gamble whether they are winning or losing. Eventually the compulsion requires them to become desperate, make bigger bets, and blame or alienate family and friends when they lose. The effects of compulsive gambling are felt family wide and can affect a gambler's personal relationships, career and life. Many problem gamblers gamble as a way of "zoning out" from life and other people. They are most comfortable when they are alone.
  • Internet. Internet addicts develop a dependency on online friends and activities. Such activities can include instant messaging, social networking, gaming or involvement in online forums. Real life relationships can be disrupted because of excessive Internet use. Internet addicts typically spend more time in solitary seclusion and spend less time with real people in their lives. They also experience feelings of restlessness, moodiness, depression or irritability when attempting to cut down use of the Internet, and may lie to friends and family about their frequency of use.

For help with managing non-substance addictions, call 1-855-403-8922 or visit to register and view online support services.

The Opening Remarks mental health briefs provide Ontario lawyers with wellness tips and resources from a variety of individuals speaking in their own capacity. The briefs are not a substitute for professional care. If you are in crisis, we encourage you to urgently contact a mental health service provider.