What are drugs?

What are drugs and what are their effects on people who use them?

Drugs are substances that change a person's physical or mental state. The vast majority of drugs are used to treat medical conditions, both physical and mental. Some, however, are used outside the medical setting for their effects on the mind. These are referred to as recreational drugs, and many of them are illegal in Australia.

Psychoactive drugs

Drugs that affect a person's mental state, whether prescribed for a medical condition or taken for recreational purposes, are called psychoactive drugs.

Why do people use psychoactive drugs?

People use drugs for many different reasons. 

Drug dependence

Drug dependence may occur when a person continues to use drugs— legal or illegal—even though their drug use causes them significant problems. 

Drug treatment

A number of options for treating drug and alcohol dependence are available in Australia.

Polydrug use

What does polydrug use mean and what are the dangers?

Getting help

Links to services and agencies that can assist people needing treatment, information, advice, referral and support.