Are you finding it hard to control how much you use?
It is important to be aware of what drugs you are taking and how much you are drinking. Drug and alcohol dependency happens when substances are used excessively to cope with physical pain or difficult situations such as grief, loss, anxiety or trauma. For alcohol, the Australian Guidelines suggest drinking no more than 2 standard drinks per day over the course of a week to reduce the impact of alcohol on you physical and mental health.
Start asking yourself questions like why do you use drugs and alcohol? How often are you using drugs or alcohol? Are you finding it hard to control how much you use?
The answers will help highlight whether you are developing a problem.
Other signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- altered mood or behaviour
- changes to appetite
- altered energy levels or libido
- issues managing work, finances and relationships
- intense urges for a substance or a need for more
- cutting back on social or other activities
- lying to people about alcohol or drug use when they ask
- doing things that are illegal to get the substance, such as stealing
- taking risks such as driving when you are under the influence of the substance head
- experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking the substance.
If you think drugs or alcohol are affecting your mental health, reducing the amount you use, and how often, is a good start.
Try the following tips:
- Don’t drink alone
- Attend social gatherings where drugs and alcohol won’t be present.
- Don’t keep drugs or alcohol at home
- Try non-alcoholic drinks as an alternative
- If you decide to drink, limit yourself to one drink per hour
- Try not to take drugs or drink when you are feeling down or anxious.
It’s important to let your friends and family know that you are trying to make a change and ask for their support. The people who know you’re trying to cut back will be able to be more mindful of your situation and support you along the way. Every little bit helps.
If you’ve tried cutting back but are still experiencing negative effects from drugs or alcohol, the next step is treatment.
The goal of treatment for drug and alcohol dependency is to help reduce the use of substances, or to help reduce the harm to yourself. Treatment is based on a person’s specific needs.
Make an appointment with a GP to discuss the options. A GP can also set up a mental health care plan, which may include a referral to see a psychologist.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation has the contact numbers for treatment services in each state and territory.
Online resources and support
In addition to in-person services, there is also a number of resources and services you can access online, including:
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation is Australia’s leading organisation committed to preventing and minimising the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. They provide information and resources about different types of drugs and their individual and social impact, as well as the potential risks associated with drug use and ways to minimise harm from drugs.
Beyond Blue has a 24/7 national support line where you can talk with a trained mental health professional who will listen, provide information and advice, and point you in the right direction to seek further help on 1300 22 4636.
Lifeline for crisis support and suicide prevention services with an online live chat. You can also call them 24 hours a day on 13 11 14.
headspace provides mental health support and services to young people aged 12 to 25 and their families in person at headspace centres across Australia or by online chat or phone through headspace.org.au.
Our team of mental health professionals are here to support you on our 24/7 Mental Health Phone Support line. It’s available to Medibank members with hospital cover 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 644 325~.
Where to get immediate help
For immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you need to talk, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or book an appointment with a GP.
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