Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders involve using too much alcohol, tobacco, prescription or other drugs, and known as substance abuse, substance dependence or addictions.

When does a habit become a problem?

  • An Individual loses control of their use of alcohol or drugs
  • The substance use becomes harmful - for example, causing medical problems, injuries, inability to work or damage to relationships
  • The individual becomes dependent, meaning the user becomes tolerant of the effects of the substance, and experiences cravings or withdrawal symptoms when stopping.

Around 1 in 20 Australians have an addiction or substance abuse problem. Alcohol and other drugs affect the reward systems of the brain and create a feeling of pleasure or relaxation - a ‘high’. This causes some people to use the substance too often, which can become damaging when it results in changes and long-term damage to the brain and other organs.