According to research around 1 in 20 Australians has an addiction or substance abuse problem which is a major cause of mental illness.
By far the most common connection between addiction and mental illness is self-medication. Often people use alcohol, drugs, and food as a way of dealing with their trauma and symptoms that they find uncomfortable or unable to deal with.
Signs of substance abuse include:
- Can’t control the use of the substance.
- Using the substance constantly (every other day/week).
- Personality changes when on the substance (i.e. confident, angry, aggressive).
- The substance is used to escape reality.
- Continual use of the substance even when you know its a problem.
- Continual use of the substance even though you have a physical/psychological problem that could be caused by the substance.
- Experience cravings for the substance.
- Experience withdrawal symptoms such as feelings of physical illness when not using the substance that is only relieved by taking more of it.
- Have developed a tolerance so much so that the substance doesn’t have much effect on you, or you need more of the substance to get the effect you want.
Treatment for substance abuse isn’t easy but there is a wide range of treatments available such as:
- 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 1300 222 222 and Narcotics Anonymous(NA) 1300 652 820 are available in many locations throughout Australian cities and regional areas.
- The Australian Drug Information Network (ADIN) is the leading alcohol and drug search directory. You can find further information on the network’s website and links to treatment services, research, education and more.
- Specialised information for young people is available at ReachOut.com and headspace.
- Free online counselling programs for people who are concerned about their drug or alcohol use are available at Counselling Online and the Australian Centre for Addiction Research.
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P.S.S.S. If you need someone to talk to or immediate help (in Victoria, Australia) see: http://www.mentalhealthcompass.com.au/helplines