It can be difficult to work out whether alcohol or other drugs have become a problem. For example, if we have a glass of wine or a beer after a day at work is that a problem? If we take Valium or pain killers to ease symptoms, is that a problem? What if we smoke cigarettes or 'pot' or inject drugs - is that a problem? The answer is, 'it depends'. It depends on what substance we are using, how often we use, how much we use and the reasons why we use. It depends on our age and stage in life and it depends on whether a doctor has prescribed us drugs. Some people use alcohol or other drugs to get relief from thoughts and feelings that they don't understand. These thoughts and feelings may relate to an emerging mental illness. Young people may experiment with alcohol or other drugs and this doesn't mean they have a problem. So it's not easy to work out. Understanding that there is recreational drinking and drug taking can help us not to over-react to situations. At the other end of the spectrum there is problematic alcohol and drug use that needs specialist care and treatment. Whether it relates to us or someone we love we could start with the question, "do I have a problem with alcohol or other drugs?" And then get busy through self-reflection, education and support to identify what this is all about.