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Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Drinking a lot of grog all the time can cause lots of different health issues like diabetes and kidney failure. You can have these health issues for a short time, or they can be for life and turn into serious injuries. Like grog, doing drugs like sniffing glue, spray or smoking yarndi/smuss all the time can also cause lifelong injuries. Misusing and abusing drugs can be serious and can cause things like seizures, strokes and heart attacks. In the short-term, too much grog and doing drugs can affect your judgement, balance and coordination. In the long-term they can kill you.

How using drugs and alcohol harm your brain

Drugs and grog can also damage your brain by causing an Acquired Brain Injury. Your brain controls everything your body does like eating, sleeping and walking. If someone has a brain injury, they can sometimes:

• have trouble remembering
• suddenly become angry, or
• slur when they talk or can’t walk straight.

A bit like being drunk except they’re not. This is from their brain being damaged and it won’t get better.

Abuse can lead to addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse can cause an addiction. This means a person relies on them to feel better or to forget or uses them to deal with their problems. And they always seem high or drunk even when it comes to going to serious family events. They usually find any excuse to be drunk/high and can spend all their money on grog or drugs instead of important things like food, housing and taking care of themselves. Drug and grog abuse can sometimes cause family arguments and in serious cases fighting. This can give the person and their family a bad name and the next generation is also affected because if the person with the addiction doesn’t get help the cycle will probably continue. It can also make the community they live in look bad.

Mums that are pregnant and drink grog, sniff glue, petrol or spray or do yarndi/smuss can cause their baby to have a brain injury known as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This affects the development of the baby’s brain, organs and central nervous system and often results in some lifelong problems. The baby can grow up having problems with:

• memory
• problem solving
• attention
• social skills
• hyperactivity, and
• stubbornness.

Babies can also be born small and need to stay in hospital for a while.

Yarning can help

It is important that mob are there for their loved ones. This includes trying to talk to them about other ways to handle situations instead of drinking or doing drugs. Things like having a yarn with them and finding out what the issue is may work for some people. It’s important not to ignore, laugh their behaviour off as being normal or encourage the person to drink and smoke more. But it’s important to know it can be very hard for someone to give up right away – that’s why they need support from the professionals too.

Where to go to for help

Sometimes it’s best for a health worker to have a chat with the person because they may need some medication to help them. They can go to the local health centre and speak with a health worker for more information. This could include making an appointment with a doctor who can refer them to services. They can also contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 177 833 if they prefer to talk someone over the phone or they can download the AOD Connect App on their mobile phone. You can also call Synapse for help on 1800 673 074