Substance Addiction

Substance addiction, is a dependence on a legal/illegal drug or medication. When you're addicted, you're not able to control your drug use and you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Drug addiction can cause an intense craving for the drug. You may want to quit but most people find they can't do it on their own.

Drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the legal system. You may need help from your doctor, family, friends, support groups or an organised treatment program to overcome your drug addiction and remain drug-free.

Most drug addictions start with experimental use of a drug in social situations. For some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. The risk of addiction and how fast you become dependent varies by drug. Some drugs have a higher risk and cause dependency more quickly than others.

As time passes, you may need larger doses of the drug to get high. Soon you may need the drug just to feel good. As your drug use increases, you may find that it's increasingly difficult to go without the drug. Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill (withdrawal symptoms).

Drug addiction symptoms or behaviours include:

• Feeling that you have to use the drug with increasing regularity
• Having intense urges for the drug
• Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
• Spending money on the drug, even though you can't afford it
• Not meeting social or work obligations or responsibilities
• Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn't do, such as stealing
• Driving or doing other risky activities when you're under the influence of the drug
• Focusing more time and energy on getting and using the drug
• Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug
• Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

Recognising problematic drug use in family members or friends

• Problems at school or work — frequently missing, disinterested in or underperforming at school or work
• Physical health issues — lack of energy and motivation
• Neglected appearance — lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks
• Changes in behaviour — exaggerated efforts to isolate from or changes in behaviour regarding family and friends
• Spending money — sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation; money or possessions are missing