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Overcoming addiction

4-minute read

Addiction to drugs or alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or computer games can badly affect your life, and hurt people around you. But it’s possible to overcome addiction and reduce the harm to you and others.

Deciding to make a change

Only you can decide to overcome an addiction. Quitting is a gradual process — it often takes several attempts. Withdrawal symptoms — the unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening reactions that accompany giving up an addiction — can be a challenge. But don’t give up hope if you find things difficult.

Quitting is easier if you have support, set goals and are prepared for challenges.

Reaching out for support

Talk to your doctor, health professional, counsellor or drug and alcohol service about your decision to quit. Be honest about your situation. Support from a friend or family member can also help.

You can talk to someone in confidence at Counselling Online — see their website for more information and for the phone number for your region.

Addiction is also associated with depression and anxiety. Contact Beyond Blue 24 hours a day on 1300 224 636.

Your doctor can refer you to a treatment service. You can also contact some services directly. Call the Alcohol and Drug Foundation on 1300 85 85 84 to find out about these services.

Treatment for addiction

Many treatments and services are available, including:

If you are a carer, carers associations in your state or territory can provide counselling and help to organise respite care. Visit Carer Gateway or call 1800 422 737 (Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm) for more information.

Healthy ways to cope with stress

Some people take drugs, use alcohol or become addicted to other things because they think it helps in coping with stress. But an addiction can be very stressful.

Things to help you cope when you feel stressed include:

Triggers, cravings and staying in control

Knowing your triggers can help you stay in control — you may avoid certain situations or people. You can’t avoid all triggers, so a plan is important to manage cravings.

Distracting yourself is good, while relaxation and deep breathing techniques can also help in the management of cravings. Exercise, call someone, listen to music — remind yourself why you are quitting.

Remember, cravings come and then go.

Don't let a relapse stop you achieving your goals

People with addictions commonly relapse — this is part of the withdrawal process. Don’t give up trying to quit if this happens to you.

Building a meaningful drug-free life

Doing things that you like, and that mean a lot to you, can help you stay addiction free. Setting goals and having things to look forward to are important.

Stay connected to positive people who are recovering from addiction. A hobby that challenges you or volunteering might also help.

Regular exercise, sleep and healthy eating can make you feel better.

Where to get more help

  • The Right Mix — an app that reduces the impacts of drinking.
  • High Res — an app that builds resilience in serving and ex-serving Australian Defence force personnel and their families.
  • OnTrack — programs that help people cut back on their drinking.
  • Department of Health’s Drug Help — drug and alcohol information and resources.
  • Family Drug and Gambling Help — a helpline that supports friends and family members impacted by someone's drug and alcohol use or gambling. Call 1300 660 068.
  • Alcohol and Drug Foundation — information on drugs and alcohol, including an information line.
  • Family Drug Support Australia — information for families, including a support line: 1300 368 186.
  • The Check-in app — created by Beyond Blue, this app helps young people start conversations with friends who may be struggling and need support.
  • Quit Now: My QuitBuddy — a free app connected to Quitline that helps smokers quit now, or later.
  • Smiling Mind — free meditation app for young people, from Beyond Blue.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2020

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