Substance misuse and addiction
The misuse of alcohol and other drugs can have a damaging impact on individuals, families and communities. It is important to get support if you or someone you know needs help to manage a substance use issue.
Substances refers to alcohol and other drugs (illegal or not) as well as some substances that are not drugs at all (such a petrol or glue) that can have a mood altering effect. People use substances for multiple and complex reasons including to relax, have fun, dull emotional or physical pain, or to get away from problems or difficulties experienced in life. The misuse of substances may lead to a dependence on the substance to cope in certain situations. The use of substances to reduce emotional or physical pain or to get away from problems may be effective in the short term however may have serious long-term consequences on health and wellbeing.
Some substances are highly addictive, while others are less addictive. When a substance is addictive, it means that you often need more of the substance to experience the same effects, you might have cravings and urges to use the substance and experience symptoms of withdrawal when not using the substance.
Withdrawal refers to changes the body goes through when you cut back or stop using alcohol, drugs or other substances. These may include irritability, fatigue, mood changes, aches and pains, cravings and/or insomnia. The experience of withdrawal may differ for people depending on the individual person, type of substance and how long it was used for.
It is important to be aware that suddenly stopping the use of alcohol and other drugs can be dangerous and cause harm. You can discuss your options with a health professional or a drug and alcohol service.
If you are supporting someone who is experiencing difficulties with substance use, consult with a doctor, another health professional or a drug and alcohol service.
Below are some common signs of substance misuse but be mindful that these are just some examples and each individual may experience and respond in different ways.
There are many avenues of support for those impacted by substance misuse and addiction. These include: