• Professional counselling or speaking to a psychologist or therapist can assist you in preventing or overcoming drug and/or alcohol addiction.
  • Drug & alcohol addiction is a slippery slope. You start using for recreational purposes or because of a genuine medical reason, but soon the effect of the drug diminishes and you start using more often and in greater quantities.
  • A drug and alcohol addict will usually suffer physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms if they stop using.

Am i an addict?

Substance abuse can cover a broad spectrum of substances, including alcohol, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine, just to name a few. Prescription medications can also be addictive, although many of us think of prescription medication as benign or harmless. Examples of addictive medications include Oxycontin, Percodan, Ativan, Valium and almost any sedative, sleep aid or pain killer. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

For many of us, talking about potentially being an addict is a difficult topic of discussion. While checklists do not take into account personal differences, they can be a good indicator of broad symptoms.

You can use the following checklist to consider whether or not you may have some of the qualities or symptoms of an drug or alcohol addict:

Check list: do I have a drug or alcohol problem?

Answer yes or no to the following questions
Do you spend time with your friends drinking or using drugs?
Do you engage in activities with your friends that do no involve alcohol or drug consumption?
Do you think about your drug of choice a great deal of your time?
When you are not using your drug of choice, do you feel like you have the flu?
Do you need to use your drug of choice in order to avoid physical symptoms of withdrawal?
Do you need to use more and more of your drug of choice to get the same high?
Have you tried to cut down on the amount of drug you use with no success?
Do you spend a great amount of time obtaining your drug of choice?
Do you give up important social functions or activities in order to use your drug of choice?
Are there negative consequences if you continue to use your drug of choice?
Do you continue to use despite those consequences?

Please answer all questions!

Your Score

You have answered yes to question(s)

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you may have a drug or alcohol addiction issue that needs to be addressed. By talking to a professional counsellor, psychologist or therapist, you may receive the help you need to conquer your addiction issue or avoid developing one.

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you may have a drug or alcohol addiction issue that needs to be addressed. By talking to a professional counsellor, psychologist or therapist, you may receive the help you need to conquer your addiction issue or avoid developing one.

What are the risk factors involved in developing an addiction?

There are numerous risk factors involved in developing an addiction. Some of these risk factors are discussed below.

  1. Some studies show that people can have a genetic predisposition to alcohol and drug addiction, although these genetic factors are generally thought to be influenced by social, cultural and development influences.
  2. Similarly, if your parents struggled with addiction, it is more likely that you might too. This is particularly common with drinking issues.
  3. Men are statistically more prone to addiction than women, however, studies indicate that women are quickly catching up with their male counterparts when it comes to drug addiction, particularly under stressful conditions. Women are more likely than men to become addicted to prescription medication.
  4. People who suffer from a mental disorder are considered by counsellors and psychologists to be at greater risk of developing an addiction than others. Certainly people who suffer from depression, loneliness or anxiety often turn to drugs or drinking as a way to experience a sense of happiness, escape from their problems, or lessen their anxiety.

Interestingly, people who are in the position of care givers, as parents or as children of their own ageing parents, are less prone to developing addictions. This suggests that, for many of us, the need to be present and tend to family needs prevents us from falling into an addictive cycle.(This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

How does addiction happen?

No one plans to be an addict. Instead, addiction is usually a slow, steady progress that starts with recreational use or a real medical need (as in the case of pain killers).

The first time you use drugs or alcohol, the affects tend to be immediate and intense, but as we continuing using, a person often finds that they need more and more of the drug to experience that same initial affect. Soon, we are on the downward spiral into addiction and it can be a difficult cycle to get out of – the less we use, the more we experience withdrawal symptoms, the more uncomfortable we become and the more we want our drug again.

Drug dependence and withdrawal

Most drugs, used too often or in substantial quantities, cause us to become physically dependent on them in order to feel okay. The process of withdrawal (when you stop using the drug) can be difficult, painful and in some situations, require medical intervention. Alcohol addiction can cause the body to adjust itself to such a degree that in extreme cases, alcohol becomes the only form of nourishment that the body will accept. A long term alcoholic will become malnourished and their body will begin to shut down if they stop drinking.

In the case of other drugs, like cocaine, the process of withdrawal will often cause you to feel physically sick and uncomfortable. In these circumstances, a detox program is usually recommended prior to the commencement of counselling. (This article is electronically protected – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Depending on the drug and the length of use, withdrawal symptoms can range form feeling flu-ish, running a fever, headaches or a general feeling of discomfort, confusion, or more significant physical effects like hallucinations or seizures. Withdrawal can last from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the drug and the degree to which a person has become addicted. Some drugs, such as crack cocaine, can have withdrawal symptoms begin within a few hours of the last use of the drug. This is one of the reasons these drugs can be so addictive: the withdrawal symptoms can begin so quickly that one feels an almost immediate urge to re-use the drug in order to feel good or even to feel relatively normal.

While some drugs, like nicotine, morphine or heroin, are physiologically addictive, that is the brain becomes dependent on its presence in the blood stream to function, other drugs are more psychologically addictive, like Marijuana. Psychological addiction is a very compelling reason for repeated use of a certain drug and can be just as dangerous as physiological addiction. It is possible for one to develop a psychological addiction to the use of a drug first and then develop a physiological independence after prolonged use. Imagine, for example, that you are a young university student who is shy and nervous when you go out to clubs and meet new people. You might start drinking alcohol and become psychologically dependent on getting drunk to have a good time when you go out with your friends. After some time of prolonged abuse of alcohol your body will develop a physiological addiction to alcohol. (This page is electronically copyright protected – do not copy – Copyright © Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney PTY LTD)

Where do I find counselling for addiction issues?

If you went through our checklist and believe that you or someone you care about may have an addiction issue, you may benefit from talking with a counsellor, psychologist or therapist. If you would like to schedule a consultation or receive further advice, please contact:

Associated Counsellors & Psychologists Sydney

Central Booking Line: (02) 8205 0566

Common mispellings and alternative search terms used to find this page include: Durgs; Adiction, Adict, Councellor, counseling, sychologist, threapy


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