Drug addict with head in hands

Recognising drug addiction

Regular drug use can affect our health, work, and relationships, and it’s more common than you might expect. More than 40 % of Australians over the age of fourteen have used illicit drugs during their lifetime, and these statistics do not include over the counter drugs such as nicotine and alcohol, which account for the most common drug dependencies in Australia.

Not all people who take illicit drugs are considered addicts, but it’s important to recognise when drug use is becoming an addiction. Addiction not only causes harm to the user, but also to those around them.

So what is drug addiction? How do you know if you have a problem and where can you get help?


When is drug use a problem?

Drug addiction is evident when, instead of being an occasional or recreational activity, it becomes a significant part of someone’s life. Addiction also tends to change behaviour, adversely affecting physical and mental health, finances, relationships and other major areas of someone’s life.

Here are some of the most common signs that drug use has become problematic:

  • You consume drugs to cope with painful or difficult situations
  • You hide or lie about your drug taking
  • You need to use drugs to feel ‘normal’ or to get through the day
  • You get angry, depressed, irritable or despondent when you can’t access drugs
  • You find yourself buying drugs with money reserved for bills, rent and other important things
  • You go into debt from spending money on drugs
  • You constantly think or talk about getting high
  • Your physical health is deteriorating (weight gain or loss, teeth grinding, skin picking, etc.) or you have sustained injuries from or during drug use
  • You find that you have sharp mood swings or you regularly become depressed, angry or paranoid.


How and where to get help

The most important step in addressing drug addiction is recognising you have a problem with your use of drugs, and asking for help.

There is usually a complex set of emotional, social and physiological factors that are at the heart of ongoing and habitual drug use, which can differ from person to person. It can help to understand the role that some of these factors play in addiction when trying to break a habit.

There are many organisations that provide information to help you better understand your addiction and find pathways to address the emotional, social and physiological factors associated with drug abuse:


Changing for Good welcomes new participants who have successfully completed a men’s behaviour change program and want extra support in their efforts at change. We also welcome participants who have difficulty accessing a men’s behaviour change program for a variety of reasons. Just call 1300 015 120 and leave a message with your name and contact details and one of the team will follow up with you.