A resource to support good mental health and wellbeing for the people of Qatar
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Alcohol, drug, and tobacco use begins with experimentation and early use. If a pattern of use develops, the use may develop into an addiction, the use may not have to continue for long for addiction to develop. Sometimes, a person may start using alcohol and/or drugs to deal with stress in their lives at work, to cope with family problems, to get some relief from mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, to treat persistent pain, or to overcome a past trauma (risk factors to mental wellbeing).  On the other hand, a person can be under peer pressure to ‘try something new’ and is introduced to alcohol, prescription drugs (like pain medications), or street drugs (such as heroin and cocaine) to fill the ‘boredom’ in their lives.  As well, the inappropriate use of common household items for the purpose of getting ‘high’ can be seen in younger individuals (Mental Health in Children and Adolescents). Young people using illicit substances present with a wide range of emotional and behavioral difficulties including change in personality; poor academic performance; fluctuations in mood; anxiety and depressive symptoms; sleep disturbance; and conduct problems.


"I masked my depression with drinking alcohol for many years, I didn't know it was depression I just thought I needed something to help improve my mood"


How substance use becomes a problem


Characteristics of Addictions 


The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain functioning.  Psychoactive substances, such as alcohol and illicit drugs, disrupt the​ brain’s reward, motivation, and memory circuitries leading to biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the person compulsively pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by:

  • Inability to consistently stop using the drug
  • Craving, or increased hunger for the drug and the rewarding experiences associated with it
  • Diminished mental and physical wellbeing
  • Disrupted relationships with family and friends
  • Inability to recognize significant problems with one’s behavior-including the impact on loved ones and other personal relationships
  • Interference with work and ability to do job responsibilities
  • The person giving up the activities they love and value.

"I saw guys living their life partying, drinking, always going out… they choose such remedies to escape. They smoke to decrease the stress level… and drink to escape bad moods and tension… I see that a lot "

"…I discovered my friend was drinking alcohol to forget his problems…"


Treatment can be effective and recovery is possible even for someone who has lost hope. Persons struggling with substance use and addiction have the potential to change their lives and move away from the disease, bringing back meaning, growth and opportunity by finding better ways to live. It takes courage and strength to take the first step toward getting help, but it doesn't have to be done alone.  Also, families often benefit from support as they work to help a family member or friend

"Treatment is available for mental health conditions and substance use. It takes courage and strength to take the first step toward getting help, but it doesn’t have to be done alone."​