Alcohol and Substance Abuse

What is alcohol and substance abuse?

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Many people drink alcohol occasionally, in a social setting or with meals. Alcohol abuse is characterised by a preoccupation with the use of alcohol and the development of a physical and mental dependency upon the substance. Substance abuse is a similar dependency upon drugs, often taken in order to escape from worries, relax, avoid peer pressure or due to boredom or sheer curiosity.

Strategies to try now

Making lifestyle changes can be a helpful start to reducing the symptoms of alcohol and substance abuse. The most commonly recommended tips that can sometimes lessen the effect anxiety has on our lives are:

Consider whether you want or need to do something about your alcohol abuse and/or substance abuse
Think about who you use with and whether you want to continue to spend time with that person
Reflect on what you do to afford and buy the drug
Contemplate the advantages and disadvantages to cutting down on your use of alcohol and other substances
Think about what you do while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Set some goals on the types of changes you would like to make around your use of alcohol and other substances
Learning and practicing relaxation techniques

It is estimated that about one in twenty Australians are experiencing an addiction or substance abuse difficulty.

Warning signs and symptoms of alcohol and substance abuse

Difficulty meeting the expectations of work, school, family and other commitments
The use of more alcohol or drugs than you intended to, despite wanting to cut back
Experience recurring problems with health, safety, relationships, finances, or the law due to binge drinking or substance abuse
Feeling a need to use alcohol or another substance to cope with everyday life, or particular experiences
Finding yourself using alcohol or other substances as a way to maintain friendships
Organising events or meetings around your use of alcohol or other substances
A need to use increasing amounts of alcohol, or another substance, in order to have the same effect
A feeling of sickness or moodiness without the substance, with a sense of restored well being when resuming use
Unsuccessful attempts at quitting the use of alcohol or other substances

Frequently Asked Questions

Some simple facts to help you understand alcohol and substance abuse and how you can best manage it.

Alcohol and substance abuse resources

Risks factors for alcohol and substance abuse

  • Certain brain characteristics that make some people more vulnerable to addiction than the average person
  • Excessive stress
  • Other challenges such as anxiety (link), eating difficulties and eating disorders (link), PTSD (link) or depression (link).
  • Substance use or addiction among a family or peer group.
  • Commencing the use of alcohol or other substances at a young age

Life after alcohol and substance abuse

Overcoming alcohol and substance abuse is possible and it does not require reaching rock bottom in order to get started. Recovery can be a gradual process, sometimes even with stops and starts along the way and programs are often most successful when they are customised to the individual. The professional help of a psychologist can support you during any stage of recovery and or the continuation of a sober lifestyle.

How common is alcohol and substance abuse?

It is estimated that about one in twenty Australians are experiencing an addiction or substance abuse difficulty. The most commonly used substances in Australia are alcohol and tobacco.

Getting Professional Help

Evidence based treatments make the biggest difference.

If you believe that you or someone you care about needs additional assistance to manage alcohol or substance use, the best person to speak to is your GP as they will be able to advise you on the referral to a psychologist near you.

Myths About Alcohol and Substance Abuse

``I am too old to have an alcohol or substance abuse problem``
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Myth 1
``It’s not possible that I am dependent on alcohol or drugs because I am successful and own a home``
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Myth 2
``It is easy to spot someone who is is abusing alcohol or other drugs``
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Myth 3
``Overcoming a dependency on alcohol or other substances is simply a matter of willpower``
Alcohol and Substance Abuse Myth 4

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