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Addiction & Substance abuse

Addiction is the urge to repeatedly use a substance or engage in an activity, often to the point where it affects your wellbeing.


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Recognising the signs of addiction is crucial for seeking help early. There are two different types of addiction, physical and psychological.

  • Physical addiction means that the body has developed a reliance on a substance and can’t function properly without it.
  • Psychological addiction is where a person thinks and feels compelled to use a substance to perform a behaviour.
  • Types of Addiction

    • Alcohol: Can include increased usage, secretive drinking, and reliance on alcohol to function.
    • Vaping/Smoking
    • Drugs: May start experimentally but can lead to a physical and psychological need.
    • Gambling: Doesn't have immediate physical effects but can cause severe mental and financial strain.
    • Gaming: Can lead to emotional and physical signs such as irritability and migraines.
    • Porn: Involves a preoccupation with sexual content that can negatively impact one’s life.
  • Effects of Addiction

    Addiction affects individuals differently and can escalate from mild to severe, impacting relationships, finances, work, and health.

  • Common Signs

    • Inability to stop the behaviour.
    • Increased consumption or use.
    • Withdrawal symptoms like mood swings and headaches.
    • Sacrificing other activities for the addiction.
  • Strategies for Managing Addiction

    • Avoid environments that trigger addictive behaviour.
    • Talk to someone you trust or reach out to helplines.
    • Address physical health concerns, especially when stopping substance use.
    • Seek professional advice for managing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Getting Help

    Reach out to trusted individuals or use professional services.

    • The Alcohol Drug Helpline offers 24/7 support at 0800 787 797 or text 8681.
    • Gambling Helpline available at 0800 654 655 or text 8006.
    • For gaming addiction, visit www.netaddiction.co.nz for resources.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of substances, including alcohol and illicit and prescription drugs. This type of use often leads to a dependency, which can have a profound negative impact on one’s physical and mental health.

  • Signs of Substance Abuse

    • Using substances in larger amounts or for longer than intended.
    • Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control substance use.
    • Spending a great deal of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance.
    • Cravings or a strong desire to use the substance.
    • Continued use despite knowledge of having persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problems likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  • Impacts of Substance Abuse

    • Can lead to chronic health issues, including liver damage, heart disease, or mental health disorders.
    • Affects personal and professional relationships, potentially leading to isolation.
    • May result in legal and financial problems due to the behaviours associated with obtaining and using substances.
  • Addressing Substance Abuse

    • Acknowledge the problem and the need for help.
    • Consult with healthcare professionals for detoxification and treatment.
    • Engage in therapy or support groups to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.
    • Consider medication-assisted treatment if appropriate, as advised by a medical professional.

Seeking help

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Seeking help for substance abuse is a critical step towards recovery. It's a sign of strength, not weakness, and there are many services ready to support you through this process.

Whether it's alcohol, drugs, gambling, gaming, or porn, understanding the issue is the first step towards recovery. Remember, it's okay to ask for help and there are resources available to support you through this journey.