Alcohol & Other Drugs

We have opted to use the abbreviated phrase 'alcohol and other drugs'. This phrase is preferred to remind people that alcohol is also a drug and can harm people's health and wellbeing when used in high or prolonged doses.
“Other” drugs include:

  • Illegal drugs (cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, hallucinogens, barbiturates)
  • Pharmaceutical drugs used for non‐medical purposes (painkillers, tranquilisers, amphetamines, barbiturates, methadone, other opiates, steroids)
  • Other substances used inappropriately (inhalants, ketamine, gamma hydroxy butyrate (GHB).


A formal clinical evaluation to ascertain whether a person meets the diagnostic criteria for a specified condition and, if so, the extent of that condition.


Dependence is defined as a maladaptive pattern of use in which the use of drugs or alcohol takes on a much higher priority for a person than other behaviours that once had greater value. The central characteristic is the strong, sometimes overpowering, desire to take the substance despite significant substance‐related problems (ICD‐10).
Clinicians use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose mental health disorders. For more information:


All drugs are intoxicating substances as they impact the central nervous system (CNS) to some degree. The impact varies according to the strength and volume of the drug taken, its interaction with other substances (e.g., food), circumstances in which the drug is used, how it is used, and the biology of the individual user.
As such, the meaning of intoxication is not self‐evident, and characterisations of intoxication in everyday life are imprecise and highly subjective. Notwithstanding this, a clinical definition is provided in the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD‐10).
Intoxication is:
'A transient condition following the administration of alcohol or other psychoactive substance, resulting in disturbances in level of consciousness, cognition, perception, affect or behaviour, or other psychophysiological functions and responses.'


It is acknowledged that the AOD treatment and research sector consider the term misuse to have a potentially stigmatising impact. However, we have opted to use the term misuse when describing risky AOD use when alternative terms weren't available. When speaking with clients about AOD use, it is important to adopt a person‐centred, non‐stigmatising or judgemental approach.


Identifies persons who may be at risk of problematic AOD use, from those who are not. Screening forms the initial step in identifying possible issues and conditions. Screening is not diagnostic. Rather it helps to direct client care by identifying issues requiring further investigation and possibly treatment.

Standard Drink

A standard drink in Australia is a drink that contains 10 grams (or 12.5 millilitres) of alcohol


ymptoms which can occur upon the abrupt decrease or discontinuation of AOD or prescription medication, amongst users who are physically and psychologically dependent. For more information see