What you need to know
It’s important to understand that however it may present, addiction is a complex mental health condition which often requires professional treatment and ongoing support – Addiction is not the result of weakness, moral failure or a lack of willpower.
For family members with a loved one battling addiction, it can be an anxious, frightening and overwhelming experience. Many partners and family members try for years to help loved ones without success, unaware of the impact on their own mental health and wellbeing.
Whether you or a loved one are battling addiction, feelings of loneliness, fear, shame and anger can at times feel inescapable – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Professional help and support from others who have experienced exactly what you’re going through is available, you just need to take that first step and reach out.
What counts as addiction?
Addictions are classified under two groups:
- Substance abuse disorders, such as alcohol, prescription medication or illicit drug use
- Behavioural or process addictions, such as gambling, sex, work or gaming
In either form, addiction is characterised by:
- A mental obsession with the substance or behaviour
- A compulsion to continue using a substance or engaging in an activity despite increasing negative consequences
- Increasing tolerance for the effects of a substance or behaviour, leading to escalations or intensifications of use or behaviour.
It’s quite common for two or more addictions to occur simultaneously, or for a substance addiction to occur alongside a mental health condition (known as dual-diagnosis).