Some of us drink alcohol to socialise. But you can become dependent on alcohol or other potentially addictive substances. But what is alcohol and drug dependency? What are the causes? And if you’re dependent on alcohol or drugs, how do you get help?
Alcohol and drug dependency: signs and causes
Alcohol and drug dependency means you rely on alcohol or another substance to feel good or cope with everyday life. Other substances includes things like cannabis hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, anxiolytics, stimulants and tobacco. Alcohol isn’t often thought of as a drug. But it can be considered a drug, and one that’s easy to obtain in Australia.
When dependency occurs
The difference between dependency and addiction can be hard to define. But your relationship with alcohol or drugs becomes an issue when your body adapts to its effects. At this stage you need increasing amounts to get the same effect. If you stop, you experience physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.
The addiction stage
When you become addicted, you’re unable to stop using alcohol or drugs despite harmful consequences. Repeated use changes your brain and makes your body more dependent. These consequences can include life disruptions like inability to meet work, social, and family commitments. Health problems can also be an issue.
Signs of alcohol or drug dependency
Signs and impacts of dependency can include missing work and study commitments. You could have blackouts due to excessive use and experience intense cravings. You might spend money on alcohol or drugs when you can’t afford it. You could find yourself taking risks when you’re under the influence. Withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit could be another sign.
Causes of alcohol or drug dependency
Causes of alcohol or drug dependency can range from a desire to change your mood to peer use and pressure.
- Mood – You might be dependent or addicted partly because you have a desire to change your mood. You might like the way alcohol or drugs make you less inhibited and more confident.
- Personal beliefs – You might have become dependent partly because you don’t realise the negative impacts on health. It might be due to a lack of belief in conformity or moral order.
- Low self-esteem and underachievement – Poor self-esteem and underachievement could contribute to dependence on drugs or alcohol, especially in young people.
- Social pressure – Although young Australians are drinking less, alcohol is part of socialising in Australia. You might feel pressure to drink or do drugs due to social pressure and acceptability and later become addicted or dependent.
- Mental or conduct disorders – Disorders like depression, anxiety and ADHD could be contributing factors for alcohol or drug addiction.
- Personal attributes – If you have poor coping skills, this could be another contributing factor to dependency or addiction.
- Familial – Familial factors like family history of dependency, parental attitudes towards substances, lack of parental monitoring or discipline and poor family cohesion could make dependency more likely.
- Access – Easy access to alcohol and drugs could make dependence more likely.
Getting help for alcohol and drug dependency
Alcohol and drug dependency can have serious consequences. At harmful levels, alcohol intake can detrimentally affect health and brain function. This has flow-on effects on social, lifestyle, work and family outcomes.
Since repeated use makes your body more dependent and changes the brain, many people can’t quit by themselves. That’s why it’s a good idea to get help for you or your friend or family member’s alcohol or drug dependency. Dealing with the problem with social support and professional help could give you the best chance to break the cycle.
- Speak with your doctor – Get in touch with your GP about the issue. He or she could offer practical help and carry out health checks.
- Counselling – See a professional counsellor who can provide advice on dealing with dependency or addiction.
- Information and advice lines – Contact a free information and advice phone line for help over the phone.
- Tailored residential treatment programs – Residential rehabilitation programs are fully immersive, residential experiences for helping you overcome dependency or addiction. They can include a variety of strategies such as psychological, physical, education and awareness, diet and social to target the causes of dependency. A tailored plan could start with a comprehensive assessment of you or your loved one’s particular dependency so an appropriate treatment program can be designed.
Don’t go it alone
Alcohol and drug dependency could affect any type of person, and usually it’s hard to quit alone. Recognising you have a problem and getting assistance with overcoming the dependency is the starting point. If you think you might be dependent, get support from family and friends and reach out to professionals for help. Your doctor, professional counsellors, and free information advice lines can offer you a level of support. Tailored treatment programs could help you beat dependency or addiction for the long-term.
If you or someone you know needs help with alcohol or drug dependency, we invite you to speak with one of our trained consultants about tailoring a program best suited for your needs. Simply fill in our online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you or call us at Palladium Private on 1300 573 095.