Drug use and dependence is an important public health concern, which impacts on the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.

Often people start using drugs as an escape from day to day stress. This can lead to regular use and then drug dependence.

Nurses, midwives and nursing and midwifery students are exposed to professional demands that might make them vulnerable to regular drug use and dependence.

If you are affected by drug use and would like to chat to someone you can call our confidential support line 24/7 on 1800 667 877.
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Types of drugs


Depressants slow down the activity of the central nervous system, slowing down communication between the brain and the body. Depressants are commonly used to alleviate symptoms of anxiety or stress. Prescription medications including benzodiazepines, morphine and codeine are classified as depressant drugs along with illicit drugs such as cannabis, heroin and GHB.


Stimulant drugs increase the activity in the central nervous system, speeding up communication between the brain and the body. Stimulants create a feeling of euphoria and can be used to counter depressive symptoms and low energy. Stimulants include amphetamine type drugs such as ecstasy, speed and ice (crystal methamphetamine) as well as cocaine.


Hallucinogens affect the central nervous system and alter a person's sensory perception. Hallucinogens can be naturally occurring such as the psilocybin found in several types of mushrooms or synthetic such as LSD. Anaesthetics such as PCP and ketamine are also classified as hallucinogens and ecstasy and cannabis can also have hallucinogenic effects when taken in high doses. Often, hallucinogens are used as a complete sensory escape from day to day life.

Drug use and withdrawal

Substance use

Low to moderate substance use which does not impact on the person's work, home, education or social functioning.

Substance abuse

Regular substance use that impacts on the person's work, home, education or social functioning.

Dependence and withdrawal

Continued substance use despite negative consequences on the person's work, home, education or social functioning. Symptoms of withdrawal when the substance use is reduced or stopped.

What can I do next?

Why not read some of our articles on staying healthy:

Our service provides free and confidential support 24/7, to nurses, midwives and students Australia wide. If you would like to speak to someone call 1800 667 877, or you can request support via email.

If you would like to know a bit more about the service before getting in contact — take a look through accessing support.

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