Do you have a drinking problem or drug problem?

Have you ever asked yourself “Am I an alcoholic?” or “Am I addicted to drugs?”

Most importantly, is your substance use interfering with other areas of your life such as relationships and work?

I can help.

What is a Substance Use Disorder or Alcohol Use Disorder?

Generally speaking, “substance use disorder” is the currently preferred scientific term used to describe the overuse of a drug or substance despite harm to yourself or others and impairment to social, work and personal functioning. In the past, you may have heard different ways to describe problematic drug and alcohol consumption such as drug abuse, drug addiction, drug dependence, alcoholism and etc.

A medical or mental health professional (such as a psychologist) can provide a formal diagnosis for substance use disorder according to DSM-5 Criteria.

The signs and symptoms of problematic substance, drug or alcohol use:

There are many signs that could indicate that your “drug use” is becoming a “drug problem”. I’ll mention a few here that frequently pop up, a great resource is can be found here.

  1. Have you neglected responsibilities at work or home due to your drug use? (i.e. forgot to pick up your kids, arrived late to work because of your hangover)
  2. Have you received comments from concerned loved ones about your drug use?
  3. Have you continued to use drugs despite knowing its harm to you?

When should I seek help for my drug use?

There are several self-help questionnaires such as the “CAGE” or “AUDIT” that are freely available for those who wish to self-assess their substance and/or alcohol use.

Personally, there are 5 questions I like to ask those concerned about their substance/drug/alcohol use:

  1. Have you tried to stop, cut down or mange your substance use?
  2. Has your substance use caused serious problems in your relationships?
  3. Has your substance use caused serious problems in your employment?
  4. Has your substance use caused any personal, financial, health problems (or injury to others)?
  5. Are you concerned or distressed about your level of substance use?

If I hear “Yes” to one or more items, I’d likely conduct a thorough assessment to see if your substance use is problematic.

What causes a substance, drug or alcohol problem?

There are a variety of causes, some environmental and some genetic. Irrespective of the cause of the problems, you’re been given the task to solve them. For some who struggle with substance addiction, its when their controlled use becomes increasingly difficult to control. Those in recovery also have to figure out a way to manage friendships so that they don’t increase their risk of relapse.

Treatment of substance, drug or alcohol problems

For those heavily affected, there is a benefit of having regular consultations with your GP or psychiatrist to manage medications that will assist in the early stages of detox and managing withdrawal symptoms. However, once you progress past the physical withdrawal or detox, you are still at the start of your recovery journey. Psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance & Commitment Therapy is focused on long-term strategies to manage your substance, drug and alcohol problems. Together, we’ll build the mental skills to prevent relapse, maintain abstinence or keep your use at non-problematic levels.

Book a session with me to work on overcoming your addiction to drugs, substances or alcohol.

Learn more:

Wikipedia: Substance Use Disorder | WebMD: Substance Use Disorder


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(02) 9030-0301
Fax: (02) 8367-5120

If you’re not quite ready, visit my blog and you’ll get some helpful tips for managing your addictive habits, maintaining abstinence or controlled use.

Luke Vu is a registered psychologist practising in Maroubra Junction, supporting those who struggle with substance and online addictions. Call me or send me a message today.