Substance misuse and addiction

The misuse of alcohol and other drugs can have a damaging impact on individuals, families and communities. It is important to get support if you or someone you know needs help to manage a substance use issue.

What is substance misuse?

Substance misuse is the harmful use of substances (like drugs and alcohol) for non-medical purposes. Often associated with the use of illicit drugs, legal substances can also be misused, such as alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medication, caffeine, nicotine and volatile substances (e.g. petrol, glue, paint). 

Addiction is a physical and/or psychological need for a substance, due to regular, continued use. Some substances are highly addictive, others are less addictive. However, the symptoms of addiction are similar no matter which substance is used.

Are you or someone you know experiencing substance misuse?

People use substances for multiple and complex reasons including to relax, have fun, dull emotional or physical pain, or to escape from problems or difficulties experienced in life. Below are some common signs of substance misuse or addiction but be mindful that these are just some examples and each individual may experience and respond in different ways.

  • Neglecting responsibilities and activities that used to be enjoyed (e.g. work, family, hobbies, sports, socialising).
  • Participating in dangerous or risky behaviours (e.g. drink driving, unprotected sex, using dirty needles)
  • Criminal problems (e.g. disorderly behaviour, drink driving, stealing)
  • Relationship problems (e.g. arguments with partner/family/ friends, losing friends)
  • Physical tolerance (e.g. needing more substance to experience the same effects, symptoms of withdrawal when not using)
  • Losing control of substance use (e.g. unable to stop using, even if you want to)

There are many avenues of support for those impacted by substance misuse and addiction. These include:


For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or via text (12pm-midnight AEST) on 0477 13 11 14