When you consume drugs and alcohol, it changes the way your brain and body work. For example, it may relax or excite you, or it may affect your sense of time and your emotional state.
Alcohol and some drugs are legal in Australia, but substance abuse is also common. Just under 1 in 6 Australians drink to risky levels, which can lead to injury, violent behaviour, and long-term problems associated with liver function and poor mental health.
Certain mental health conditions (such as anxiety or depression) or emotional states may also see someone turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to mask or numb uncomfortable feelings.
The Australian guidelines to reduce health risks state that healthy adults, should drink no more than 10 standard drinks per week, and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day. The less you choose to drink the lower your risk of alcohol-related harm. For some people, not drinking at all is the safest option.
Some signs that you or someone you know may be experiencing drug or alcohol abuse include:
If you are experiencing the above signs and symptoms, speak with your GP.
Treating drug or alcohol abuse early on can offer the most positive outcomes. Depending on the severity of the abuse, treatment may range from counselling, through to hospital treatment. For people who have a substance use disorder and a mental illness, treatment should address both conditions together.
Your General Practitioner can provide more structured advice about how to change your habits, or refer you to a trained professional in this area for assistance. They may also prescribe medication to help you stop drinking alcohol.
If you want to reduce your drug and alcohol intake there are some practical things you can do to help. These include:
|Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous||12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous|
(AA) 1300 222 222 and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) 1300 652 820 are available throughout Australia. They provide a support group for people who have recovered from addiction and can support and mentor others with alcohol or addiction problems.
|Counselling Online||Counselling Online|
is a free online text-based service where you can talk to a professional counsellor about your own alcohol and drug use, or that of a loved one.
|ReachOut||ReachOut has a good range of resources addressing the diagnosis of drug and alcohol abuse as well as how you can help a friend with a drug addiction.|
|Hello Sunday Morning||The Daybreak app by Hello Sunday Morning offers professional and community support online to help you change your relationship with alcohol. It’s sponsored by the Australian Government making it free for Australian residents.|
Reviewed by Sarah Davies, registered psychologist.