A lot of people don’t think alcohol is a drug – but it’s the most widely used and easily accessible drug in New Zealand.
What is the connection between alcohol and mental health?
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your brain. It can change your mood, energy levels, sleep, memory, and many other things.
People who are experiencing a mental health problem may use alcohol to try and manage hard times or lift their mood. This might feel helpful in the short term but may make things much harder to handle in the long run.
It is also linked with risky behaviour, aggression and self-harm or suicide.
Long term alcohol use can also lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, brain damage, liver disease and cancer.
If you think there’s a chance you might be pregnant, it’s best to stop drinking because alcohol can harm your baby. Check out the series of videos to help explain – Don’t know? Don’t drink.
The effects of cannabis
Like alcohol, cannabis is a depressant. Using it can lead to impaired concentration and motivation, as well as paranoia and anxious thoughts.
Methamphetamine and the brain
Meth changes the way the brain feels pleasure, causing people to take more of the drug to feel the same high as the first time they used it. This leads to more damage to the brain and body which can be permanent.
If you are worried about your own or someone else’s alcohol or drug use, there are people you can call for help:
- Alcohol and drug helpline 0800 787 797 or free text 8681 for confidential advice
- Alcohol and drug Pasifika line 0800 787 799
- Alcohol and drug Māori line 0800 787 798
- Freephone or text 1737, New Zealand’s free support service with qualified and confidential counsellors.