Substance use is a common part of many people’s lives. Generally, irregular and light use of substances, be they legal or illegal, can be tolerated and won’t necessarily lead to impairment or ill health. However, as is recognised by most people, regular and/or heavy use of any drug of choice can lead to impairment in a person’s ability to function normally on a day to day basis and may also cause physical harm.
What exactly is Addiction?
The term addiction is commonly used to refer to a pattern of drug use that impairs a person’s ability to function adaptively (e.g., maintain their attendance to work, care for their family etc). From a psychological perspective, the diagnosis ‘Substance Use Disorder’ (followed by the name of the drug in question) is used to refer to a range of difficulties a person experiences if their drug use constitutes an ‘addiction’. This definition comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – version Five (DSM-V).
How do I know if I have an addiction?
There are several indicators that a person’s drug use is problematic and that may indicate a Substance Use Disorder (addiction). A psychologist or medical professional may consider a patient to have an addiction if they experience two more of the following symptoms (which are grouped into four areas of concern).
The first area of concern involves impaired control. 1/ The individual may use the drug in increasingly larger amounts and for longer periods of time than they initially wanted. 2/ The individual may persistently desire to cut down or cease their use but fail when they try to do so. 3/ The individual may spend a great deal of time obtaining the drug, using the drug or recovering from their use of the drug. 4/ The individual may ‘crave’ the drug, that is, experience an intense desire for or urge to use the drug once again.
The second area of concern is social impairment. 1/ The individuals use results in a failure to uphold personal responsibilities at work, school or at home. 2/ The individual may continue to use the drug despite experiencing persistent interpersonal problems caused by their substance use. 3/ Important social or recreational activities may be given up (or reduced) because of their drug use.
The third area of concern is risky use. 1/ The individual uses the drug in situations in which it is physically hazardous (e.g., ‘drink driving’ or while operating machinery at work). 2/ The individual may continue to use the drug despite their awareness that their drug use is causing problems.
The fourth and final area of concern is consequences of ceasing use (Pharmacological concerns). 1/ The individual has developed tolerance, that is, a need to use increasing amounts of a drug to experience the same level of effect. 2/ The individual may experience physical or emotional distress (e.g., agitation or losing control over anger) after their regularly used drug has left their body.
Am I ready for drug or alcohol counselling?
It’s always possible to reduce or cease your drug use no matter how long you’ve been using and no matter what type of drug you’ve used. However, it’s very important that a person feels they are ready to address their drug use before attempting to do so. While it’s common for family and friends to be worried about a person’s drug or alcohol use and may encourage them to attend drug or alcohol counselling, it’s important for the person to feel ready for counselling and motivated to attend of their own accord.
Can I get into legal trouble if I discuss my drug use?
Generally not. It’s important for people to feel that they can talk about their drug use in a confidential way and the police aren’t informed of a person’s use, even if the drug they’re using is illegal.
Individual counselling appointments are 50 minutes long.
See Fees for further details.
Providing services to the Newport, Scarborough, Redcliffe, Margate, Kippa-Ring, Rothwell, North Lakes, Mango Hill, North Brisbane, Burpengary, Morayfield and Caboolture areas.