Alcohol and Other Drugs
Alcohol and your mental health
A lot of people don’t think about alcohol as a drug – but it’s the most widely used drug in Australia and is really easy to get.
One of the major reasons people drink alcohol is to change their mood. This is why people think drinking alcohol is so much fun. You can pretty much expect whatever mood you were in before you started drinking to be amplified. So if you were feeling happy, you will feel really happy.
If you felt anxious or depressed before you started drinking you will probably feel much worse once the effects have worn off. This can have a big effect on people who have depression and other mental health problems.
Alcohol will make you less inhibited so you might say stuff you wouldn’t normally say or do stuff you wouldn’t normally do. This can lead to feeling really bad the next day if you said mean things to a mate, or to your boyfriend or girlfriend, or had a fight with someone.
About other drugs
There are many recreational legal and illegal drugs that people routinely use. Illegal drugs often pose great health risks not only because of their active substances, but because there is no telling what they have been mixed or ‘cut’ with. Drugs are often classed into three different categories: Depressants, Stimulants and Hallucinogens.
Signs alcohol or drug use may be a problem:
- experiencing blackouts when drinking
- drinking alone
- concealing drinking from family and friends
- having unsafe sex, or regretting past sexual activity that occurred under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- physical withdrawal symptoms including, sweating, nausea, shaking or trembling in the absence of drug or alcohol use
- social withdrawal
- mood swings
- failing relationships with friends and family
- impaired performance at school or work.
Any drug use that interferes with daily functioning is considered a problem
What young people can do about problematic alcohol and other drug use
There are many things that young people can do in the early stages of problem drinking or drug use. Lifestyle changes, with increased physical activity, and spending time with friends who do not take drugs/alcohol or are happy to make changes to accommodate to a drug/alcohol free environment.
Substance abuse often becomes and is maintained as it becomes a form of coping mechanism, focusing on learning new coping strategies can help to lessen dependency on drugs and alcohol. Addressing possible underlying mental health problems, is also vital in preventing the progression of drug and alcohol abuse.
Practical tips for planning nights out can minimise the potential dangers associated with drinking and drug use, for example it may be useful to have a designated sober driver or make alternate transport plans ahead of time. Knowing what is being consumed is important, whether it be drugs or alcohol, as well as having a person to call if feeling unsafe, or worried about a friend (e.g. a parent or older sibling).
Or contact the Australian Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 422 599