Treating substance abuse
The abuse of potentially addictive substances can cause problems in all areas of life. Family and friends may be affected by the abuser's changing personality and his or her inability to accept that they have a problem. It can create massive financial and health problems. Acquiring the substance is often put ahead of essential expenses such as food, healthcare, rent or utility bills. Chronic abuse can also cause problems at work. personal productivity generally drops, the abuser may take excessive sick leave and their behaviour may become erratic. There are potentially grave legal implications.
Signs of substance abuse
People who have substance dependence may change their behaviour in many different ways, including:
- Unexplained need for money
- Work or school absenteeism or neglecting family or other responsibilities
- Withdrawing from social circles, frequent arguments, fights or suddenly changing friends
- Increase or decrease in appetites or eating habits
- Impaired concentration, memory or energy
- Risk-taking behaviour such as driving under the influence
Types of addiction
There are two types of dependence or addiction, and they have differing symptoms and treatment options. The first type of dependence — physical addiction — occurs when the person’s body is unable to function properly without constant dosage. The second type — psychological addiction — occurs when the person craves the substance in order to gain satisfaction or experience a particular emotion. People can have either or both of these types of addictions.
When to seek professional assistance
It can be difficult to tell when you or someone close to you has a problem or addiction. People differ in their opinions of how much use is too much. What should be focused on is the effect of abuse on the user and his or her family, friends and colleagues and whether it is interfering with normal functioning.
How Psychology Melbourne can help
If you believe that you or someone close to you has a substance problem and you would like some professional assistance, one of our experts can help.
Our substance abuse counselling team
Ann-Marie DiMichiel Hearn
Dr Anna Mooney