What is substance misuse? Why do people misuse alcohol and other drugs? Where can people get drug and alcohol support?
If you or a person you care for has an issue with alcohol or drugs, national charity and support provider Lifeline has a great resource that can help. Substance misuse – alcohol & other drugs provides detailed information on the questions posed in the introduction. Lifeline’s website also provides further assistance for those who need support.
What is drug and alcohol misuse?
While some people think substance misuse only relates to illegal drugs, it can in fact relate to licit and illicit drugs. For that matter, it can relate to any substance that changes how we feel, think or act.
Therefore, substance misuse can include illegal drugs like cannabis, ICE and ecstasy, legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medication, and materials like petrol, glue and other chemicals.
Substance misuse isn’t going out for a few drinks on the weekend. Misuse occurs where there is inappropriate or excessive use of substances. For example, when:
- The use of a substance harms you or people around you.
- Your health is affected.
- You have difficulty meeting your responsibilities and disengage from activities that you usually enjoy.
- You participate in dangerous or risky behaviours.
- You fight with loved ones or friends about your substance use.
- You need more substances to feel the same effects or have cravings or urges when not using.
- You have trouble stopping or reducing your use.
- You experience emotional or mental illness.
How common is misuse?
It can be a fine line between substance use and misuse, so it’s difficult to know exactly how common substance misuse is. However, there are indicators that it is widespread. For example:
- Just under 1 in 6 Australians drink at risky levels.
- An estimated 4 per cent of Australians have used an illegal drug in the past 12 months.
- Around 10 per cent of Australians have used prescription opioids for non-medical purposes.
People use alcohol and other drugs for a variety of reasons. For some, it’s to relax or have fun, for others it’s to dull emotional or physical pain or escape from problems or issues.
As already highlighted, substance use doesn’t necessarily mean misuse, but because substances can be highly addictive, use can lead to dependence. Where there is dependence there is likely to be misuse.
Drug and alcohol support
Thankfully, there are places people can turn to for drug and alcohol support. These include Lifeline, Alcoholics Anonymous, Quitline and the National Cannabis Information and Helpline. Lifeline has a local services finder, which is a directory of free or low cost health and community services available in Australia.
As Lifeline says: “It is important to identify when your use of alcohol or other drugs becomes a problem and seek help.”
Today is the best day to seek that help.
While Integrity Sampling primarily provides drug and alcohol management services for businesses, including workplace drug testing and workplace alcohol testing, we also encourage individuals to seek support for issues with drugs and alcohol. Another valuable resource for free and confidential advice is the National Alcohol and Other Drug hotline on 1800 250 015.
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Substance misuse is a significant problem in Australia, however, there are places people can turn to for drug and alcohol support. Credit Paul Einerhand https://unsplash.com/photos/r0ZoiMf0TT0