People often use alcohol or drugs (that have not been prescribed by a doctor) to try and improve the way they feel. However, although alcohol and drugs may appear to help in the short term, they will actually make you feel much worse in the long term.
Drinking or using other non-prescribed drugs to deal with difficult feelings is sometimes called ‘self medication’. If this ‘self medication’ becomes a regular tool for coping, a person can become psychologically dependent. All drugs (medicinal as well as illegal) have the potential for unwanted side effects, for example a strong mood-altering substance may trigger or bring out an underlying emotional difficulty.
Being dependent on drugs and/or alcohol means that you will crave more of the substance, even though it may be doing you psychological or physical harm. You may also notice withdrawal symptoms after a period of regular use, which may encourage you to use. Signs that you may be dependent include: using drugs or alcohol to block out physical and emotional pain, using drugs or alcohol to distance yourself from problems like loneliness or relationship and family problems, or if obtaining and taking drugs or alcohol is more important than anything else in your life.