Problems with drugs & alcohol

Many people have problems with the use of alcohol or drugs.

Why do people use alcohol and other drugs?

People use alcohol or other drugs:

  • for enjoyment
  • to relax
  • to help to socialise with others
  • to avoid physical or psychological pain

With prolonged and regular use, a person may develop tolerance and dependence to alcohol or drugs:

  • Tolerance means that larger amounts of the substance is needed to get the same effect, leading to dependence.
  • Dependence to alcohol or drugs can be psychological, physical or both. People who are dependent on a substance sometimes find that using alcohol or drugs becomes more important in their lives than other activities. Dependence can result in social consequences, for example, family discord, police involvement, loss of employment.

The use of substances can also affect one’s mental health as they impact on the brain’s chemistry. They can impact on the way you think, feel, create and make decisions.

Dual diagnosis

People who have a mental illness often also have problems with drugs or alcohol, and if so, this is called having a 'dual diagnosis'. Mental health clinicians have training to help manage these problems and specialist dual diagnosis clinicians can provide further help. 

Getting help


If you have decided you want to change or quit using alcohol and other drugs, there are services that can help you, including DirectLine.

DirectLine is a 24 hour, 7 day a week telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone in Victoria wishing to discuss an alcohol or drug-related issue.  It is staffed by professional counsellors at Turning Point. All counsellors are experts trained to work with a range of alcohol and drug problems.

For friends and family

If you are a family member or a friend of a person who wants to change or quit using alcohol and other drugs, there is support available. One important thing you need to realise is that the person needs to make the decision to change or quit using themselves for it to work.

Family Drug Help is a service designed specifically to address the support and information needs of parents, other family members and significant others of someone with problematic alcohol or other drug use. People with personal experience of the effects of alcohol or other drug use within their family or friendship group are involved at all levels of the service.

Turning Point and the Better Health Channel also provide a lot of information about ways of providing support.