Risky alcohol and other drug use can result in mental and physical health problems, social and family issues, problems with finances, violence, and contact with the criminal justice system. Problematic alcohol and drug use can also impact on the capacity to parent and on a child’s wellbeing.

The Commonwealth Government (through the Adelaide PHN) has designated PsychMed as one of SA’s key community based providers of drug and alcohol services. PsychMed’s tailored programs cater to the differing needs of individuals. Our services include assistance for people who have been struggling with alcohol or drug addiction for some time, to people who might just have some concerns about the way they are using alcohol or drugs right now.

Treatment options range from a free one-off session to assess how your alcohol or drug use might be affecting your life at the moment, to longer-term one-on-one therapy with an experienced psychologist. In addition, PsychMed offers two kinds of adjunct group therapy to further assist individuals to cut down or stop their use, including an intensive outpatient treatment program for high-risk methamphetamine users.

What substances can I get help with?

The psychoactive substances that most commonly cause problems for people in Australia include:

  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis (marijuana, pot, weed, dope)
  • Methamphetamine or amphetamine (ice, crystal, base, paste, gear, goey, crack)
  • Heroin (smack, H, hammer) and prescription and over-the-counter opioids (eg. codeine, morphine, oxycodone, pethidine, methadone)
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, diazepam, Xanax, Ativan, temazepam)
  • MDMA (Ecstasy, e, pills) and other New wave Psychoactive Substances (eg. Flakka, DMT)
  • Inhalants (petrol, paints, thinners, aerosols, nitrous oxide, NOS)
  • Hallucinogens (LSD (acid), magic mushrooms, ketamine)
  • Other substances sometimes available in Australia include cocaine, khat, kava and mescaline

These drugs can be smoked, swallowed, drunk, inhaled, injected, snorted or taken in the form of pills.  Some of these drugs might be prescribed by a doctor (eg. benzodiazepines, opioids) or available over-the-counter, but sometimes the use of these drugs results in overuse or dependency which can have a significant negative effect on quality of life and overall functioning.

Signs of a problem

While people use alcohol and drugs for their pleasurable and desired effects, there is a range of significant negative effects and unwanted consequences that can occur.  You don’t have to be ‘addicted’ or dependent to experience problems in your life from using alcohol or drugs.

Single session binge of alcohol or drugs to intoxication can lead to:

  • doing things when you’re intoxicated or high that you regret later
  • getting in arguments or fights
  • overdose, loss of consciousness, vomiting
  • accidents and injuries
  • having a bad hangover or come-down in the following day(s)
  • drink/drug driving and loss of license
  • loss of employment

Regular use of alcohol or drugs can lead to:

  • feeling depressed, anxious, moody, irritable (more than usual or worse than usual)
  • not sleeping properly
  • specific physical problems (eg. stomach discomfort – alcohol)
  • arguments with your family or partner
  • not being able to concentrate or remember as well as usual
  • needing to use more of the substance than previously to get an effect (tolerance)
  • less efficient or less motivated at work or study

High-level regular use, or addiction can lead to:

  • persistent depression or anxiety
  • severe physical problems
  • much higher tolerance to the substance
  • strong cravings to use
  • relationship breakdowns
  • finding it hard to cut down or stop using
  • spending a lot of time getting, using or recovering from using the substance
  • more difficulty fulfilling your usual responsibilities and activities (home, school, work, recreational, social)
  • withdrawal symptoms when you haven’t used, which are relieved by taking the substance

Injecting drugs can lead to:

  • you are more likely to get addicted to that drug very quickly
  • you are more likely to overdose
  • you are more likely to die if you do overdose
  • you are more likely to experience psychosis (if you inject methamphetamines or amphetamines)
  • you can get an infection at the site(s) where you are injecting
  • this can become a more wide-spread infection through your whole body (sepsis) which will result in hospitalisation
  • if you get sepsis you could die, or be left with serious heart problems
  • if you share any equipment with other injectors you could contract a blood borne virus like Hepatitis C

Deciding to get help

Think about what substance(s) you use:

  • Have you experienced any of the symptoms or problems mentioned in the previous section in your life recently?
  • Or perhaps for some time now?
  • Or perhaps you’re not completely sure?

If you have noticed some of those problems and you are concerned, or perhaps just interested in whether or not your substance use is impacting on you, call PsychMed direct on 8232 2424 for a free one-off appointment to check in on your use by asking for an ASSIST assessment.

How we can help:

  • PsychMed psychologists are experienced in using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to assist you to cut down or stop using any psychoactive substance, or with issues that may have triggered your use to begin with, or with associated mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
  • If you are dependent on a psychoactive substance and experience withdrawal symptoms when you cease use, PsychMed can assist with preparation for stopping, and in supporting you through an inpatient detoxification or GP-assisted/home withdrawal.
  • In addition, if you are dependent on heroin or a prescription opioid, a PsychMed psychologist can support you through induction onto Opioid Substitution Therapy (through your GP) if this is part of your treatment plan.
  • Individual and group therapy treatment programs.

Individual Therapy

Psychologists use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) approaches supported by research. CBT empowers the individual by providing information and teaching strategies and skills to cut down or stop using alcohol or drugs, in addition to addressing lifestyle changes and other important issues relating to your use. CBT looks at how our cognitions (thoughts) impact on both our emotions (eg. anxiety, depression, anger, shame) and our behaviours (what we do), including substance-taking behaviour. The CBT programs vary depending on the type of drug, and when working with a clinical psychologist, can be tailored to meet individual needs. CBT sessions broadly involve:

  • Initial interview and assessment
  • Psychoeducation on presenting problems and symptoms
  • Assessing readiness and motivation to change
  • Identification of barriers, risk factors and triggers
  • Introducing and maintaining lifestyle and behaviour changes
  • Identifying unhelpful thinking styles and developing thought challenging skills
  • Practicing coping strategies to manage stress
  • Learning distress tolerance and mindfulness techniques
  • Relapse prevention strategies

How to Refer

Inpatient Withdrawal Management Services

Telephone Help

Help in Other Languages

PsychMed has started an Authentic Voices consumer advocacy group, founded by Dr Phil Townshend, an experienced and highly regarded clinician in the area of mental health and addictions. This group consists of people who have lived experiences with a range of mental health problems and addictions. This remarkable group of people participate in PsychMed’s AOD and gambling programs as mentors and bring the voice of consumers to the table in program review and planning. We are looking forward to strengthening our community support and connection through our authentic voices advocates.

We call our advocacy group of workers the Authentic Voices as we value and respect the contribution they make to our clients. PsychMed provides services based on science and the treatment experience of our clinical staff. We have found our Authentic Voices add another level to this treatment and to the quality of the recovery of people with drug and gambling addiction issues.

We know there are many barriers to seeking help and taking part in treatment for people with addictions, two of these barriers are fear of being judged and feelings of hopelessness.

The fear of judgement comes from the way our communities regard addiction as a moral issue or something to do with willpower. Our Authentic Voices overcome this barrier as our clients can be confident they are not going to be judged by someone who has been there and experienced many of the same highs and lows of addiction as they have.

Another other significant barrier to help seeking is feeling hopeless that anything can work. When a person in addiction is desperate to change their life and have tried everything they can think of to do this without success, it’s easy to believe that it’s all just too hard and recovery is impossible. This is the part where our Authentic Voices can help by being there and sharing their experience and leading by example. All our Authentic Voices have successfully dealt with their addictive use of drugs and gambling and gone on to build new lives that are sustainable and rewarding.

Our Authentic Voices enrich our programs with their experience and wisdom and we are proud and grateful to have them as part of our services.

For Consumers

For Families and Carers

For Health Professionals