Substance Abuse

The influence of substances on people’s lives in Australia is substantial. Loss in productivity, absenteeism, sick days at work, relationship breakdown, contact with the law and negative impact on physical health.

The PsychWell approach to treatment for substance abuse is as an outpatient, harm minimisation and individualised treatment plan. Whether seeking treatment for heavy drinking or the use of illicit substances, we aim to work with your intention of reduction and improved health. Outlined below is a description of substances successfully treated at PsychWell. 

Clinical Services provided for Substance Abuse: 



Alcohol Abuse

In Australia, alcohol is the most widely accepted legal drug used and abused socially and alone. We all think we know the effects of alcohol, you get drunk. Clinically, alcohol slows down coordination, judgement and response time. Known as a depressant, taken in sufficient quantities alcohol can amplify the mood you were in before you started to drink. Making feelings related to depression stronger.

Binge drinking:

The short term risks due to binge drinking include alcohol poisoning. In fact the short-term effects can be worse than moderate drinking. Some people may not think so, but binge drinking once or twice week can be as much as of a health problem as heavy drinking.

What are the risks?

Being drunk disinhibits an individual and makes them vulnerable to unsafe sex, assault, rape, violence and provoking fights, and aggression. The risks of drink and driving are the possibility of injury to you and injuring or killing someone else.

Health risks:

The long-term risks contributing to health problems of the brain, stomach (ulcers), liver, heart and higher risks of cancer. Drinking too much can lead to physical dependency, drinking ever-increasing amounts, being unable to say no and relationship problems.

Alcohol as a problem:

  • Having to drink more to feel the effect of alcohol
  • Often feeling hung over
  • Using alcohol to manage stress
  • Thinking about drinking more often than not 
  • Not being able to stop drinking
  • Having difficulty concentrating and maintaining attention
  • Not being able to work or other activities because of withdrawal / intoxication
  • Placing yourself or others at risk due to excessive drinking 

If close friends, family or a medical specialist has indicated that your drinking is a problem, take it seriously, other people can help. Call to make an appointment and discuss the steps involved in treatment of alcohol dependency. 

Cannabis Abuse

Just like other drugs such as alcohol and nicotine you can become dependant on cannabis. Cannabis can have both physical and psychological aspects to it. It’s only a small proportion of people become dependant on cannabis.

Heavy long-term use of cannabis can lead to you're body getting used to it. Needing more to get the same effect. That is you build up a tolerance to the drug.

Going without a smoke might bring on temporary effects, these could be withdrawal symptoms. That might include trouble sleeping, stomach problems, feeling irritable, and cravings.

Health Risks:

Cannabis use can bring about severe anxiety, paranoia, or panic reactions. At high doses, confusion, delusions, and hallucinations may occur.

Some people are more vulnerable to the psychological effects of cannabis and should avoid using. People with a family history of schizophrenia are vulnerable to developing such problems, triggering a psychotic episode.

The symptoms of series mental illnesses can be made worse through cannabis use, and it’s strongly advised you avoid cannabis use.

Adolescents and Cannabis Use:

A recent study indicated a significant reduction of eight IQ points in heavy weekly users of cannabis under the age of 18 years. That’s enough for someone to fall from average at 50 % of the population to 29 % well below average.

The long-term effects of heavy cannabis use on the developing brain can be significant and detrimental.

The symptoms of Cannabis Dependence are: 

  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Not being able to control your use
  • Continuing to use cannabis even though it is causing you physical or psychological problems.
  • Giving up important activities because of you cannabis use
  • Using more cannabis than you planned

If you are having difficulty controlling your use of cannabis, spend more time involved with cannabis and less time with friends, activities and work. Telephone to make an appointment and discuss the steps involved in treatment of cannabis dependency. 

Opioid Abuse

The effects of depressants in small doses are usually feelings of well-being, calmness and relaxation, drowsiness or stupor. They relieve pain and anxiety and decrease awareness of the outside world. In larger doses, depressants can lead to a deep sleep. They can slow respiration and stop breathing. Some depressants in large doses may cause memory problems, depression and poor coordination.


Is a potent opioid derived from morphine. Heroin is an illegal drug in Australia, and is usually available in the form of a water-soluble, white crystalline powder. Normally taken intravenously, numbers in Australia are snorting or smoking the drug.


Is a long acting opioid used in the management of chronic pain (methadone tablets) and for the treatment of opioid dependence (methadone syrup or solution). Morphine: Is prescribed for a range of medical conditions, most notably as an analgesic.

Buprenorphine (Subutex):

Is registered as an analgesic (low dose sublingual tablets), and for the management of opioid dependence (high dose sublingual tablets). Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist (i.e. low activity) and binds tightly (high affinity) at the mu opioid receptors.

Tolerance results in the body’s response to opioids after regular use. The body adapts to the repeated use of opioid drugs so that a higher dose is required to pro- duce the same effect that was once obtained at a lower dose.

Withdrawal from opioid use is very unpleasant but not life threatening experience. A shorter history of use (less than 6 months) is generally associated with a milder withdrawal.

Dependence syndrome is normally indicted by the loss of control over the use of the drug with persistent use despite significant harms. Dependence also has grades of severity.

The Risks:

Trauma or infection to injection sites, scarring thrombosis, and cellutitus are most common. Blood born viruses, HIV, Hepatitis C (HCV), and Hepatitis B (HBV) are common to the risk of sharing needles. Mortality rates are high among regular heroin users.

Dependant heroin users have a greater incidence of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, poor self-esteem and disrupted lives.

Psychological problems can often subside through managing heroin dependence. Telephone today to book an appointment to discuss treatment. 

Amphetamine Abuse

Speed or ice (methamphetamines), which come in many forms, powder, liquid, crystal and paste. Some prescription medications include amphetamines as an agent. The manufacture, supply, and use of amphetamines are illegal in Australia. The risk of these substances illegally produced in unsafe environments, increases due to the variety of varied ingredients used to stack the product.

Amphetamines are taken many ways, swallowed, injected, smoked, inhaled and snorted. The effects of feeling alert, energised, excited, talkative and confident last only briefly.

Amphetamines Effect:

Faster heart rate, increased body temperature, weight loss, nervousness, panic, anxiety and paranoia, irritability and aggression, dry mouth, sleep problems, damage to memory and thinking, dental problems, lung damage, nose damage, Hep B and Hep C and HIV.


Can include hunger, extreme tiredness, restless sleep and nightmares, anxiety, panic and depression.


If people around you have suggested to you that your drug use is a problem, then take it seriously. Some people stop or reduce drug use on their own, but think about talking with a trusted family member or friend. Telephone today to book an appointment to discuss treatment options. 

Prescription Medication

The concerns for people abusing over the counter medications include the negative affects on, personal safety, health concerns and relationships, self esteem and job performance, .


Normally taken for anxiety and tension, a person feels relaxed and reduces inhibition. Other people can feel drowsy and socially disconnected.

Over the counter medications such as Valium, Serapax, Mogodon, Tamazapam are highly addictive and warn they should not be taken for a period of longer than 8 weeks. Users may experience withdrawal symptoms such as, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, weakness nausea, vomiting and convulsions.

The long-term use of these over the counter medications and others can lead to tolerance, a need for the use of more medication to gain the same effect.


The need that the body builds up for continued use of medication leads to addiction. If others have pointed out an over reliance on medication, or if you have been hiding the use of medication. Talking with someone trusted, a family member, friend or your GP could be your next step. Alternatively, telephone to book an appointment to discuss treatment today.