What is drug dependence?

Dependent use

A person becomes dependent on a drug after prolonged or heavy use over time. They feel the need to take the drug consistently in order to feel normal or to avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.


A person consumes a heavy amount of drugs over a short period of time, and/or uses continuously over a number of days or weeks.

Situational use

A drug is used to cope with the demands of particular situations.

There is no safe level of drug use. Drug use can be dangerous and misuse can lead to mental and physical illness and put your life at risk. If you have a problem then it is important to seek help.

Learn more about drugs at Youth Beyond Blue.

Online support

  • Counselling Online offers online text-based counselling to alcohol and other drug users.
  • Speak or email with a counsellor at eHeadspace.
  • Clear Your Vision is a do-it-yourself guide to quitting cannabis.
  • If you use drugs to cope with feelings of depression or anxiety, register with Mental Health Online – a 12 week program for mild to moderate anxiety or depression you can do on your own for free, or if your anxiety/depression is more severe, for a small weekly fee you can receive additional email support from a counsellor.

Community support

  • Turning Point provides statewide drug counselling, information and referral.
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a non-profit group of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem.
  • Family Drug Help offers family members support, information, education, inspiration and the encouragement to practise self-care.

Drug dependence and your study

If you have been assessed by a health practitioner as having an addiction you may be eligible for special consideration. If you have both a drug addiction and a mental health condition, you may also be eligible to register with Equitable Learning Services and have equitable assessment arrangements put in place.