What is addiction?

Addiction is complex. It happens when someone is unable to stop engaging in a type of behaviour or repeatedly using a substance, even when it becomes harmful or destructive. Addiction can lead to a harmful cycle of behaviours that is incredibly difficult to break.

There are a variety of reasons why people may experience addiction or substance dependency.

An individual may be driven to a particular behaviour or substance to pleasure or to stop a negative feeling. People with depression, anxiety or mental health conditions may turn to substances to cope with a negative experience in their life. A behaviour or substance can turn into an addiction when an individual is unable to control or stop, even when it starts to cause harm to their life or relationship.

Signs and effects of addiction 

There are different types of addiction but typically, addiction can be physical or psychological. Physical addiction is when your body becomes dependent on a substance, such as drugs, alcohols, cigarettes and prescription painkillers. Psychological addiction is when the craving for a substance or a behaviour is emotional or psychological, rather than a physical dependence, and includes include gambling, exercise, shopping and overeating.1

There are a few signs that may indicate you or someone else is developing an addiction:

  • Needing to use or do more of something to get the same effect
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • It’s causing problems with school or work
  • Unsuccessfully trying to quit
  • Feeling anxious, angry or depressed

Addiction can cause incredible amounts of harm to people’s lives, such as:

  • Worsen mental health 
  • Damage relationships with family and friends
  • Losing your job
  • Cause homelessness

In 2021-22, more than 23,000 Australians that required homelessness support had alcohol and other drug issues.2 These are people with family, friends and loved ones who need our support to get their lives back on track.

How can we help overcome addiction?

Overcoming addiction can be a tough journey but it's possible with the right help and support.

Unfortunately, overcoming addiction isn’t always a straight line or an easy path. The brave people trying to overcome addiction may suffer setbacks along the way, but with the right help and support it's possible to overcome addiction and live a healthy, independent life.

Mission Australia’s Triple Care Farm is located on 110 acres in the NSW Southern Highlands and combines medical care, counselling, education and recreation to help young people conquer drug and alcohol addiction. It’s ground-breaking and effective, providing young people with the support network they need to overcome addiction.

We know Triple Care Farm works! A ten-year study by the University of Wollongong revealed Triple Care Farm was effective at improving the psychiatric outcomes of young people with complex needs.

 Overcoming addiction: Emma's Story

Emma had her whole life ahead of her. Young, and full of hope, Emma wanted to make the most of her teenage years.

Navigating her identity and future felt overwhelming for Emma, who turned to substances as a teenager. Emma can’t pinpoint the exact moment the substances took control of her life. But she remembers feeling lost. Emma tried to overcome the addiction on her own for years.

"I did not know who I was... I would have called myself reckless, carefree, [and I] didn’t care about anything or anyone.” - Emma.

When Emma arrived at Triple Care Farm, it was her last shot at a different future. Emma was given the care she needed to break free from her addiction and regain her sense of self.

"I began to like people again, I began to like myself again, find out who I am. I soon found the flow at the farm and what was on offer."

Last December, Emma, along with over 100 other brave young people graduated from Triple Care Farm, free from the addiction that was destroying their life!

"Without Triple Care Farm I would have ended up dead or in jail. The program helped me get through the worst time of my life and come out with employment and a fresh start.”

Thanks to your support, young people like Emma can turn their lives around and step towards an independent and resilient future.

"This is the challenge I know I can beat and [I] will always remember my time at Triple Care Farm and how strong I became.
We can't wait to see what Emma and the other graduates achieve with their fresh start!

Meet more young inspirational people here.

1What is addiction? | Addiction | ReachOut Australia 
2ABS (2021) Census of Population and Housing: Estimating Homelessness.
Names and images have been changed to protect the identity of the people we help.

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