Health and wellbeing blogs

Do I have a problem with drugs or alcohol?

If you can't stop taking a drug even if you want to, or if the urge to use drugs is too strong to control, even if you know the drug is causing harm, you might be developing a problem with drugs or alcohol.

Substance use self-check 

It is important to be aware of what drugs you are taking and how much you are drinking. Try keeping a diary for a week to keep track, and note down any specific reasons or triggers that make you feel like using.

You could also ask yourself the following questions:

  • How often are you using drugs or alcohol?
  • Do you think about drugs and/or drinking a lot?
  • Are you using drugs or alcohol more regularly? Are you finding it hard to control how much you use?
  • Have you ever tried to stop or cut down on your drug usage but couldn't?
  • Does the thought of running out of drugs and/or alcohol really scare you?
  • Are you starting to experience problems like missing work, making mistakes, or not doing things you were meant to?
  • Are you having trouble sleeping, eating or just doing your normal daily tasks?
  • Have you noticed a change in your energy levels? More tired? More energy?
  • Are you experiencing blackouts regularly?
  • Are you experiencing changes in your mood? Finding it changing more quickly, or feeling more worried or unhappy than usual?
  • Are you having trouble concentrating or making decisions?
  • Are your friends or family asking you to take it easy?

Answering yes to several of these questions may mean that you are developing a problem with drugs or alcohol.

St John of God Richmond Hospital substance self check

Seeking help

  • See your GP to discuss the answers to the self-check and ask for referral to an addictions specialist and/or psychologist with skills in working with people with substance use problems.
  • Contact your local Community Health Centre and make an appointment with their Drug and Alcohol Counsellor or ask for contact details for your local Drug and Alcohol Service.
  • Contact Beyond Blue or Black Dog Institute for phone advice and contacts for support.
  • Call the Mental Health Telephone Access Line (MHTAL) on 1800 011 511 for a list of suitable services and contact details.
  • Internet search for D&A inpatient admissions, community counselling and residential rehabilitation services.
Karen Hanzal Clinical Nurse Consultant

About the Author

Karen Hanzal is a Clinical Nurse Consultant at St John of God Richmond Hospital's Alcohol and Other Drugs Program.