A drug is a broad label given to any substance that changes the way your brain works. Taking drugs may seem like fun and a way to take your mind of things or spend time with your friends, but sooner or later drug use has a negative effect on your mind as well as your body (1).

Drugs can be classified into three groups:

  • Depressants –slow down your reactions to things and can make you feel more relaxed. Other effects can include nausea and they can slow down your breathing and heart rate.
  • Stimulants – make you feel more awake and alert. They can also make you feel agitated, keep you awake and decrease your appetite
  • Hallucinogens – change your perceptions on reality and cause visual or auditory hallucinations. It is impossible to predict if your hallucinations will be positive or unpleasant. It is not uncommon to experience anxiety, panic or paranoia during a hallucination.

Managing Drug Use

Recognising that you might have a problem is the first step in getting help for your drug issue. No one can force another person to seek treatment for a problem if the person doesn’t believe they have one (2).

Deciding to manage your drug use is a big step and a big decision. If you do reduce your drug use you still might crave them for some time after. It is important not to be too hard on yourself if you don’t reach your immediate goal or if you have a few setbacks along the way. Many people think they can go cold turkey and give up drugs on their own, but that’s a really difficult way of going about it and often not the most successful (2). Having to try several times may be a part of reducing your use and it is important you keep trying. It can be helpful to have someone to talk to along the way, either a friend, family members or a counsellor. Seeking support from others can be a really great way of figuring out next steps (2).

As the term ‘drug’ covers a large range of substances it means that there are many ways in which people choose to manage their use. There is no one way that is better than another and it is important for people to work out what works best for them and their situation. The ways in which people manage their use may depend on:

  • What it is they are trying to stop or cut down e.g. reducing smoking will be different to heroin use
  • How regularly they are using
  • For how long have they used the drug
  • What other things are happening in their life
  • What resources are available to them

Sometimes you might try out a range of options before you find the right one.

Managing your drug use may include speaking to a professional or it may be possible to reduce your use on your own (2). It is important to speak with a doctor or drug and alcohol worker about the best way to manage your drug use as reduction of some drugs may cause medical complications.

What Might Help?

Suggestions that may help you manage your drug use include:

  • Make it difficult to access drugs – for example if you are trying to stop smoking throw out your cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays so they are not tempting you.
  • Have things you can do to distract yourself at times when you feel like taking the drug. E.g. spending times with friends who don’t use drugs, going for a run/walk, listening to music etc.
  • If possible get support from your family and friends. They may be more supportive of you if they know you are trying to reduce your use.
  • Talking to someone you trust may be helpful in reducing your use. This could be a friend, family member or a counsellor.
  • Easting well and drinking lots of water can be helpful for keeping healthy. If possible eat a balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, pasta and cereals and stay away from high fat takeaway food. (for more tips on healthy eating click here)
  • While you are still using drugs it is important that you do so in the safest possible way. You might want to check out the Safer Drug Use fact sheet for more information.
  • Contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) who will be helpful in answering questions about safer drug use.
  • Talking with a counsellor who specialises in drug and alcohol issues may be helpful. While some counsellors specialise in drug and alcohol issues other counsellors might be helpful to discuss your situation and issues you are dealing with in your life (2).

A good counsellor can help you to work out how best to manage your drug use. It can be done either individually or in a group setting. Discuss the available options with your counsellor to work out what might be best for you. To find a counsellor near you can visit the Beyond Blue directory of Medical and Allied Health Practitioners. Your doctor, local hospital or local community health centre will also be able to help you find information.

Self Help is another form of treatment for people who have drug dependencies. Self-help groups are made up of people who experience a particular drug problem. Instead of a group being run by a professional, self-help groups are run by members of the group. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are examples of self-help groups. You might find it useful to read some fact sheets on support groups. Speaking with your doctor, health care worker or counsellor is another place you could get information about self-help and support groups in your local area.

Reducing your drug intake may be done with the assistance of other drugs. The function of these drugs depends on what they are replacing and medical treatment is often done alongside counselling.

It is important to note that laws around medical treatment for substance use vary from state to state. For more information about suitable options for you it is important to speak with your doctor, local drug and alcohol worker or counsellor. The Australian Drug Foundation website also has some general information.

More Information

For more information about how drugs and alcohol can affect your mental health and wellbeing you can read the fact sheets from Duel Diagnosis Australia and New Zealand or visit ReachOut.

If you live in the Albury Wodonga Health catchment you can access information on local support services here.

Where to get help?

  • Your doctor
  • DrugInfo; for information phone 1300 858 584
  • DirectLine; for counselling and referral phone 1800 888 236
  • Counselling Online for online counselling and referral
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Phoning Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS) in your state or territory (see numbers below)

Useful phone numbers within Australia


  • Direct Line (drug advice)                1800 888 236
  • Family Drug and Alcohol help          1300 660 068 or 03 95731780


  • ADIS                                          02 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599
  • Family Drug Support Helpline          1300 368 186


  • ADIS                                         02 6205 4545


  • ADIS                                         07 3837 5989 or 1800 177 833
  • Family Drug Support Helpline          1300 368 186


  • ADIS                                         1800 811 994 or 03 9416 1818


  • ADIS                                         08 8363 8618 or 1300 131 340
  • Family Drug Support Helpline          1300 368 186


  • ADIS                                         08 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024


  • ADIS                                         1800 131 350
  • Amity Community Services            1800 684 372




  1. 1.Youth Beyond Blue (2014) http://www.youthbeyondblue.com/understand-what's-going-on/alcohol-and-drugs
  2. 2.ReachOut (2012) http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/getting-help-for-drug-use
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