Alcohol and Other Drugs

Drug use is a common human behaviour. Many people use legal or illegal substances in their daily lives. Using harmful substances can negatively affect the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.

Key Points

The use of legal substances (such as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco) is the most common type of substance use. Alcohol and other drug use in Australia is decreasing, despite public perceptions to the contrary. A person’s age, sex, cultural background and social environment can influence their substance use. People use alcohol and other drugs for a range of reasons and consumptions patterns can vary from drug to drug.

Alcohol and other drugs can affect the physical, psychological, mental, social, financial and legal wellbeing of the user, their family and friends, work colleagues, and the wider community. A common misconception is that the ‘addictive’ nature of certain substances causes them to be harmful. The use of any substance which affects the mind has the potential to cause harm and the likelihood of harm occurring increases with greater amounts used.

There are many theories about harmful substance use, none of which fully capture its complex nature. Effective prevention needs to address a range of social and individual factors.


Some people find their alcohol or other drug use becomes problematic, because the harm associated with it outweighs the apparent benefits. Substance use may be a problem when someone:

Seeking Help

Many people recover from harmful substance use on their own, but if alcohol and other drugs are affecting your day-to-day life or the life of someone you know, a psychologist may be able to help.

Psychologists are highly trained and qualified professionals, skilled in diagnosing and treating a range of mental health concerns, including substance use problems.

A psychologist can help you to identify and manage the factors that contribute to your substance use. If you are using substances to cope with other difficulties, psychologists can also help you to find other ways to deal with these problems. These problems might include grief and loss, abuse, trauma, relationship break ups, low self-esteem, or overwhelming emotions such as anger, anxiety or depression.

If you are experiencing similar problems, please contact us.