A Word on Addiction

Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you. Addiction is a physical and/or psychological need to use a substance, often caused by regular continued use.  It is most commonly associated with gamblingdrugs, alcohol and nicotine (smoking).

However it’s possible to be addicted to just about anything such as shopping, mobile phones, solvents (volatile substance abuse is when you inhale substances such as glue, aerosols, petrol or lighter fuel to give you a feeling of intoxication ) and work.

Signs and symptoms of substance abuse or addiction:

  • Regular or continued substance use to cope emotionally, socially or physically
  • Neglecting responsibilities and activities that are important or enjoyable (e.g. work, study, family, hobbies, sports, social commitments)
  • Participating in dangerous or risky behaviours as a result of substance use (e.g. drink driving, unprotected sex, using dirty needles)
  • Relationship problems (e.g. arguments with partner, family, friends, or losing friends)
  • Physical tolerance – needing more of the substance to experience the same effects
  • Withdrawal – physical and mental withdrawal symptoms when you are not using the substance or needing the substance to feel “normal”
  • Losing control of your substance use – being dependent or unable to stop even if you want or try to
  • Substance use takes over your life (e.g. spending a lot of time using, finding or getting the substance and recovering from the effects)

Main reasons people misuse substances:

People use drugs and alcohol for many reasons

  • To relax
  • Have fun
  • Socialise
  • Cope with problems
  • Escape life or dull emotional/physical pain.

However using substances to cope doesn’t make problems go away, and can make them worse or add new problems to the mix. Substance abuse and addiction can have short-term and long-term impacts on physical, mental, social and financial health.

Get help if you are experiencing any of these effects:

  • Physical health– nausea, aches and pains, sleep problems, weight gain/loss, infections, accidents, illness or chronic disease.
  • Mental health– depression, anxiety, paranoia or psychosis
  • Personal relationships– family problems, arguments, relationship breakdowns or a loss of friends
  • Work or financial– job loss, trouble at work or study, debt or unemployment
  • Social impacts– loss of interest or time to do things you like, reduced participation in social activities, criminal problems, anti-social behaviours or  isolation

What you can do 

It is difficult to accept you have a problem and to ask for help. Be honest with yourself and others and get the help and support you need.

  1. Recognise when your substance use has become a problem– realising and accepting that you are abusing or addicted to substances is the first step to finding help.
  2. Get support– getting through this on your own can be difficult. Talk to friends, family, your doctor, other health professionals or a telephone helpline (e.g. Lifeline, 13 11 14) about your substance use. The following will provide help and assistants and point you in the right direction if you need further help.
  3. Investigate options for help– manage and treat substance misuse and addiction through counselling, medication, rehabilitation centres, self-help programs or support networks. You might need to try a number of options before you find what works for you – it’s important to keep trying. DONT GIVE UP!!!!!
  4. Find alternative coping strategies– if you are using substances to cope with life or escape personal problems, find other ways to manage the situation and deal with life’s stress and pressures. By dealing with other problems in your life you can make it easier to recover and not relapse.
  5. Deal with setbacks and keep going– Recovery can be a long and difficult road. Expect some setbacks and don’t focus on failures, focus on your plan and understand your triggers and how to best respond to them in future.


The information within the blog has been sourced through https://www.lifeline.org.au/Get-Help/Facts—Information/Substance-Abuse—Addiction/Substance-Abuse-and-Addiction and http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/addiction/Pages/addictionwhatisit.aspx