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For most people, most of the time, moderate alcohol or drug use does not cause a problem. However, it is easy for problems to begin when your use becomes more regular and you use alcohol or drugs to improve your mood or as a way of coping with life.

You may find you gradually need more and more to get the same effect. This can lead to switching to stronger drugs, using them differently or drinking more alcohol.

Some people end up taking a combination of drugs and alcohol to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be very dangerous and increase the risk of overdose. Likewise, a large majority of street drugs are now cut with other substances, such as chalk, talcum powder or caffeine, meaning that it’s hard to know exactly what you’re taking, especially when the dose of the drug can vary so widely.

When alcohol or drugs become a problem people may do things that are out of character such as commit a criminal act or put themselves in risky situations where they may be taken advantage of or hurt.

Health problems caused by substance misuse:

  • High/low blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart/lung/liver disease
  • Depression
  • Anxiety/panic attacks
  • Psychosis/ paranoia
  • Trouble sleeping