What is addiction?

Addiction is:

  • A state of dependence on a substance
  • Either a physical or a psychological dependency or both
  • Not being able to live without the substance
  • An irresistible craving for the substance

Addictions can result in:

  • Health problems
  • Legal problems
  • Marriage and family problems
  • Premature death
  • Costs to the community

People can become addicted to:

  • Legal drugs such as alcohol and nicotine
  • Prescription drugs like benzodiazepines (the Valium family)
  • Illegal drugs including amphetamines, heroin, ecstasy, psychedelics, cannabis and cocaine

Warning signs of drug addiction

In yourself:

  • Organising your life around the substance
  • Choosing friends and associates who are fellow users
  • Requiring more of the drug to produce the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms or depression if the substance is unavailable
  • Cravings
  • Collapse of moral integrity (a drug centred value system)
  • Relationship or marital problems.

In a young family member:

  • A lack of energy or motivation
  • Changes to eating patterns
  • Extreme mood swings and angry outbursts
  • Staying out all night
  • Slump in performance at school or work
  • Trouble at school or problems at work
  • Sudden and frequent changes of friends
  • An unexpected need for money
  • Having lots of money
  • Valuable items or money missing
  • Trouble with police.


The first step (which often takes great courage) is to stop deluding yourself, admit that the problem exists, and admit that you have the problem.

The next step is to seek help from your family doctor or an AVA Telephone Counselling Service counsellor.

Now you have taken two giant steps on the road to recovery.

For family members

Living with an addicted person can:

  • be highly stressful
  • bring you to your wits’ end
  • make you feel powerless and vulnerable
  • lead you to wonder whether you are a failure as a parent or spouse.

Help is readily available through:


Problem gambling is an inability to control the impulse to gamble. Sometimes it’s an attempt to distract oneself from life problems or depression

Gambling is a problem when:

  • Housekeeping, mortgage and debt repayments are gambled
  • Lies are told about the extent of gambling
  • There is an inability to resist the impulse to gamble
  • Money is stolen from family or employer and gambled.

Finding help

Your AVA Telephone Counselling Service counsellor will be familiar with specialists in the treatment of problem gambling in an area which is convenient for you and can arrange a referral.

For further information

This NSW Government site is a one-stop shop for information about addition. It contains excellent links and plenty of resources for parents.

Gambling Help Online also provide free assistance for anyone affected by gambling

How the AVA can help

Source: Converge International, provider of the AVA Telephone Counselling Service

In need of emergency help?

Help is available at any time, day or night on Lifeline 13 11 14 and the AVA Counselling Service 1300 687 327.