Drugs and alcohol change the balance of chemicals that help your brain to think, feel, create and make decisions. The drugs and alcohol you use can affect you both now and in the future. Changing drug and alcohol habits can take time, but with support and perseverance you will notice positive changes in your mental and physical wellbeing.

Signs and symptoms of substance abuse or addiction

  • Regularly or continued substance use to cope emotionally, socially or physically
  • Neglecting responsibilities and activities that are important or enjoy (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)