- You can become addicted to many different things.
- Addiction can badly affect your life and hurt the people around you.
- Many addiction treatments and services are available.
- Quitting is a gradual process — it often takes several attempts.
What is addiction?
Addiction is the repeated use of a substance or an activity, even though it may be harmful.
People can become addicted to many different things. Common addictions are:
Addiction can badly affect your life and hurt the 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.
When breaking an addiction, you may have withdrawal symptoms, including:
- mood changes
- aches and pains
These can be unpleasant and sometimes life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can be challenging. But don’t give up hope if you find things difficult. Quitting is easier if you:
- have support
- set goals
- are prepared for challenges
Reaching out for support
Talk to your doctor, mental health professional, counsellor or drug and alcohol service about your decision to quit. Be honest about your situation. Support from your friends or family members can also help.
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.
Addiction is also associated with depression and anxiety. The Beyond Blue helpline can provide mental health support 24 hours a day on 1300 22 4636.
Is there treatment for addiction?
Many addiction treatments and services are available, including:
- withdrawal, detoxification and addiction rehabilitation
- medicines, which can reduce cravings
- peer support, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery Australia
- support for your family and carers
If you are a carer, carers associations in your state or territory can provide counselling. They can also help to organise respite care. Visit the 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 other things because they think it helps them cope with stress. But it can lead to an addiction, which can add to your stress.
When trying to break an addiction, withdrawal symptoms can also be stressful.
There are healthy ways to cope with stress, such as:
- relaxation through meditation and yoga
- being with friends
- planning ahead and having routines
- eating healthily
- sleeping well
A counsellor can give you relaxation strategies, such as:
- deep, controlled breathing
- ways to relax your muscles
- visualising a safe place
Triggers, cravings and staying in control
Knowing your triggers can help you avoid them. Avoiding your triggers can help you stay in control and prevent relapse.
You can’t avoid all triggers, so a plan is important to manage your cravings. A counsellor can help you prepare a plan to cope with cravings.
The stress relief strategies mentioned above can also help distract you and manage cravings.
Don't let a relapse stop you achieving your goals
People with addictions commonly relapse. This is part of the withdrawal process. It is okay to acknowledge any negative feelings you may have after a relapse. However, remember that breaking an addiction often takes more than one attempt. Keep reminding yourself why you are trying to quit.
Building a meaningful life without addiction
There are things you can do to help you stay addiction free.
- Do things that you enjoy and that mean a lot to you.
- Set goals and have things to look forward to.
It can help to stay connected to positive people who are recovering from addiction, through support groups.
Meaningful hobbies that socially engage you, such as volunteering, might also help.
Resources and support
- Department of Health: Drug Help — drug and alcohol information and resources.
- Alcohol and Drug Foundation — information on drugs and alcohol, including an information line.
Support services and helplines
- Turning Point — offers support services for people with alcohol, drug or gambling addictions, including counselling.
- OnTrack — programs that help people cut back on their drinking.
- 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.
- Family Drug Support Australia — information for families, including a support line: 1300 368 186.
- Alcoholics Anonymous Australia — provides support services for people with alcohol addiction, including a support line: 1300 222 222.
- Narcotics Anonymous Australia — information and support for those struggling with drug addiction, including a support line: 1300 652 820.
- SMART Recovery Australia — provides accessible tools to help people manage addictive behaviours, online and in-person.
Support apps for your phone
- The Right Mix — is an app that reduces the impacts of drinking.
- High Res — is an app that builds resilience in serving and ex-serving Australian Defence force personnel and their families.
- Quit Now: My QuitBuddy — a free app that helps smokers quit.
- Smiling Mind — free meditation app for young people, from Beyond Blue.
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Last reviewed: October 2022