If you feel your use of alcohol and other drugs is impacting your life and you are finding it hard to make changes, it might be time to look for some extra support. There are a lot of things you can do to support yourself, but remember that it’s OK to get some support from a professional as well.

Here are some things you can ask yourself to work out if it’s time to look for extra support. Have you:

  • Been drinking or using alone?
  • Struggled to work or contribute at home because of your drinking or drug use?
  • Had someone tell you they are worried about you?
  • Forgotten what happened while drinking or using other drugs?
  • Used alcohol or other drugs to relax, cope, feel better or fit in?
  • Done something while drunk or under the influence of other drugs where you could have been in trouble with the law?

If you do feel that you want to make changes to your use of drugs and alcohol. These three questions can help:

Many people in New Zealand use alcohol and other drugs. Some use it recreationally – to be social and have fun – but other people use it to cope with emotional stress, reduce pain or because they have become dependent on a drug to feel ‘normal’. The more that someone uses drugs, the more it can become a big part of their life.

Often, repetitive alcohol and drug use can occur when people are dealing with tough situations. This might be trauma, stress, anxiety, depression, discrimination, relationship problems or feeling inadequate or lost. Remember, there are support options available to you if you are struggling – it is OK to reach out and ask for help.

It can help to check in with yourself and reflect on where you are at and whether you want to make changes to get back on track.

Go back to the beginning. It can be helpful to think about how your relationship with drugs and alcohol started. You could write about it, make a list or talk with someone else.

  • What did you enjoy doing before you started taking this drug?
  • What do you really like about this drug? What did it give you that you felt you needed?
  • What do you do when you’re using this drug?

Most people who try drugs don’t become addicted to them. If you are using drugs every week or every day or you find the amount you use is going up, you might be developing a dependence.

An early sign of addiction can be experiencing unusual urges to use the drug. You might be thinking about when you can next use or how you will next get it. The sooner you notice that these feelings and urges are happening, the easier it is to change the way you use.

Relationships can be affected if drugs start to become a more important part of your life. Sometimes, people who are using drugs regularly can be emotionally distant or easily irritated or act in an unpredictable way. Friends, partners or family can find it hard to spend time with people who are using a lot.

It could be useful to think about how your life has changed since you started using alcohol or other drugs.

  • Have you lost anything from your life?
  • What do others say you are like when you are high or drunk?
  • What are the things you like and the things you don’t like about using?

Where to next?

To find out what professional help is out there, see Support options.

For ways you can help yourself, see Making changes