Alcohol & Alcoholism

What is Alcoholism?

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Alcoholism is defined as an addiction to the consumption of alcohol or alcohol dependency. There is a significant difference between having a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and not being able to control your drinking habits. But where heavy drinking turns in to alcoholism is difficult to know as the progression is slow and often imperceptible.

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Alcoholism makes you feel that you are unable to function without a drink and individuals experiencing this are driven by an urge to drink, even though they know it is not doing them any good. This can have a significant impact on all aspects of their lives, including work, relationships and physical and mental well being.

What are the Recommended Levels of Alcohol Consumption?

Given that alcohol consumption is legal in our society and also an integral part of many social activities, the government has set up guidelines about the acceptable levels of consumption in order to reduce the health risks to a low level.

The recently updated government guidelines actually now state that there is no safe level of alcohol,  but that by keeping within the recommended limits you will significantly reduce the risks that alcohol consumption can bring. Originally the recommendations were different for men and women, but this has also recently changed and the number of units is now the same for men and women. The guidelines (updated on January 2016) now state that neither men nor women should drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week. 14 units is the equivalent of 6 glasses (175ml) of wine, 6 pints of beer, or 14 x 25ml glasses of spirits

What Causes Alcoholism?

The exact cause of alcoholism is still not known but there are many factors which are thought to play a role in the development of alcoholism.

  1. Genetic Tendencies

Recent research suggests that genes may have a role to play in causing a predisposition towards alcoholism. Alcoholism often seems to run in families with immediate relatives of alcoholics being up to seven times more likely to develop alcoholism.

  1. Social & Psychological Factors

Social and psychological factors are also thought to play a role in the development of alcoholism. People often look to alcohol to provide some relief from coping with negative feelings or circumstances that they feel unable to cope with, such as stress, anxiety or life issues. It is a way of avoiding the reality of the situation when they do not have the necessary coping mechanisms to deal with whatever the problem might be. If someone has grown up in an environment where their parents have used alcohol to avoid difficult feelings, it could be a pattern that repeats itself.

  1. The Physical Influence of Alcohol

Once someone starts drinking heavily alcohol dependency can develop when the alcohol changes the chemicals in your brain. These changes increase the pleasurable feelings that alcohol gives you, making you want to drink more of it.

The Signs of Alcoholism

There are different levels of addiction and in its early stages it can be difficult to notice, but if you think you might be starting to develop a dependency, here are some questions you could ask stoptober Alcohol & Alcoholismyourself.

  1. Have you started to notice that you need to drink more before you start to get intoxicated?
  2. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about where you can get your next drink?
  3. Are you being dishonest with family and friends about your drinking, trying to cover up the true extent of it?
  4. Have you developed a drinking routine, always having a drink at the same time of day?
  5. Are you drinking more and more alone, so other people do not find out how much you are actually drinking?
  6. Do you find yourself avoiding social activities where drink is not involved, always favouring those where you will be able to drink?
  7. Have you tried to cut down your drinking unsuccessfully?
  8. Are you drinking at inappropriate times, such as first thing in the morning?
  9. Do you get angry and defensive when people question you over your drinking habits?

When are you considered to be an Alcoholic?

If you have gone beyond the initial stages of alcoholism and you are alcohol dependent, you will start to notice physical symptoms affecting you. You will find it difficult to relax and enjoy yourself without a drink and it may feel as though you can’t function properly without a drink. Drinking becomes an important or even the most important factor in your life.

If you are unable to get a drink, you could start to experience withdrawal symptoms after just a few hours. Your hands may start to tremble or you may sweat heavily and these symptoms will subside soon after you have a drink. You may also find that you get irritable and restless when you haven’t had a drink.

How Alcohol Impacts on your Body alcohol-effects-body-724x1024-212x300 Alcohol & Alcoholism

Alcohol abuse is a causal factor in 60 medical conditions including:

Alcohol and Cancer

Drinking alcohol regularly can increase the risk of 7 different cancers including mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast.

When consumed, ethanol (alcohol) is converted in our bodies into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde which is known to damage our DNA and prevents cells form repairing the damage. Alcohol also changes the levels of hormones in our bodies, which for example in the case of oestrogen,  these increased levels can be a cause of breast cancer.

Alcohol, Brain Damage and Dementia

Alcohol-related brain damage or ARBD is the term used to describe a decline in cognitive abilities caused by alcohol abuse. ARBD leads to slightly different symptoms in different people and causes a range of conditions.

There is some debate as to whether alcohol abuse is a direct cause of ARBD or whether the alcoholic’s lifestyle is also a contributory factor.

Alcohol is a toxin, which can cause damage to nerve cells and blood vessels leading to brain shrinkage. However, people who are heavily dependent on alcohol also often suffer head injuries from falling over or fighting, which can contribute to alcohol related dementia. Likewise, heavy drinkers tend to replace food with drink and don’t look after themselves which means that their bodies do not absorb vitamins as efficiently as they might otherwise do.

Alcohol and Depression

Although alcohol can provide a temporary lifting of mood, it is actually a depressant which means that it disrupts the signals between the neurotransmitters in our brain and alters our thoughts, feelings and actions.

For some people the depression came first and people turn to drink for a temporary release but as drinking becomes regular the alcohol lowers the levels of serotonin in your brain – a chemical that helps to regulate your mood.

Using alcohol to relieve depression actually starts a vicious circle and heavy drinking when you don’t already suffer from depression can cause it.

Alcohol and Diabetes

Alcohol is a toxin and as such, when you drink alcohol your body puts all its efforts in to expelling it. By doing so, this means that other processes are interrupted and it affects the production of insulin which controls blood sugar levels. By drinking alcohol to excess, you are not only reducing the effectiveness of your insulin production but also increasing your sugar intake and this can lead to diabetes.

Alcohol and Hypertension

Your heart is responsible for pumping blood around your body supplying the energy and oxygen it needs to function. Pressure is needed to achieve this and this requires effort from the heart. A normal, healthy heart can manage this at low pressure.

Alcohol contains a lot of calories and sugar and is a particularly potent source of “bad cholesterol” in your blood. This, combined with the tendency to gain weight if you drink heavily, can cause high blood pressure, meaning that your heart needs to work harder to pump the blood around your body. This puts a strain on your heart and increases your risk of stroke or heart attack.

Alcohol and Cirrhosis of the Liverliver-cirrhosis Alcohol & Alcoholism

Cirrhosis of the liver is when normally healthy tissues of the liver are gradually replaced by scarred tissues. Instead of your liver having smooth tissues, it becomes lumpy and hard. This damaged tissue can eventually prevent the liver from working properly.

Drinking heavily on a regular basis almost always causes some kind of liver damage. How much and how long you drink for will affect the extent of damage with your chances of developing cirrhosis increasing as your drinking is prolonged and increased.

Alcohol and Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a disease in which the pancreas becomes inflamed. This happens because the digestive enzymes have been activated before they are released into the small intestine and they attack the Pancreas itself. Scientists are not entirely sure how alcohol causes pancreatitis but it is thought that the alcohol interferes in some way with the cells of the pancreas, causing it to become inflamed. However it does cause it, there is definitely a clear correlation between alcohol abuse and cases of pancreatitis.

Over time, the inflammation causes scarring and damage to the pancreas which means that it does not function properly and leads to poor digestion. A lack of insulin, one of the hormones the pancreas produces, can cause diabetes.

Alcohol and Encephalopathy

Hepatic encephalopathy is a condition caused by severe liver disease. Alcoholic encephalopathy is the same condition but refers to cases of liver disease which have been caused by alcohol abuse.

The liver is responsible for removing any toxins that enter the body. If you consume large amounts of alcohol, which is a toxin, the liver is unable to cope and the toxins enter the bloodstream and reach the brain, causing a decline in brain function.

Alcohol and Neuropathy

Neuropathy is the medical term for nerve damage. In the case of alcoholic neuropathy the damage is caused by alcohol and it affects the peripheral nerves.  Your peripheral nervous system is made up of a system of 43 pairs of nerves which serve your head, neck and body sending messages back and forth to your brain to provide feeling throughout the body and control a wide variety of actions and processes. Alcohol abuse reduces the levels of vitamins and minerals in your body which are needed for healthy nerve function. 

How Alcoholism impacts on your relationships

Alcoholism impacts on every relationship in the alcoholic’s life – partner/spouse, friends, family and work relationships – because of how it can change an individual’s behaviour. Alcohol abuse anger Alcohol & Alcoholismcan affect the way your brain processes information. Alcoholics will often misinterpret social cues and signals around them and react in ways that seem out of the ordinary. When you are alcohol dependent, your physical and mental well being are affected and this in turn can change your day to day behaviour and interactions with other people, whatever their relationship to you.

Anger – many alcoholics display anger, aggression or violence towards their friends and family particularly when challenged about their drinking or when intoxicated.  Alcoholics tend to use anger as a defense mechanism to divert attention from them.

Lying – many alcoholics will lie to their partner and friends in order to hide the true extent of their drinking.

Inability to control your emotions – Alcohol affects your ability to regulate emotions by causing a chemical reaction that slows down activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Alcoholism changes the brain to such an extent that thinking processes are clouded, emotions are all out of control leading to extremes of emotions which are out of proportion to the situation.

Physical relationships – long term alcohol abuse can be a cause of erectile dysfunction in men. Drinking can also lead to fewer inhibitions and people find that they have sex with unsuitable partners, or unprotected sex which they might regret once they have sobered up.


Alcohol is a depressant and can lead to loss of interest in participating in life and the inability to connect with other people.

Treatment for Alcoholism the-treatment-centre Alcohol & Alcoholism

The treatment required for alcoholism will depend on the level of addiction. Basically the process will be similar for anyone who is alcohol dependent, but when and where the treatment can be carried out will vary as will the withdrawal symptoms, the length of time required and the lasting effectiveness.

To ensure your best chances of success you will need to make sure that you get the right treatment for your particular circumstances – how long you have been drinking, what your current symptoms are, how much you drink and your level of dependency. Some people can manage their withdrawal at home or through support from an NHS centre, others might need to stay in a rehabilitation centre to help them through. It will be important either way, that your treatment is managed under medical supervision, as you will not know how severe your withdrawal symptoms will be until you start detox and some withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening.

The basic rehabilitation treatment will be as follows:

  1. Initial assessment.

You will need to have your addiction assessed to enable the professionals to create a plan for the best approach to treatment for you. Once your initial assessment has been done, a tailored treatment plan will be developed to meet your particular needs, based on your history and current circumstances.

  1. Detox

This is the stage when you withdraw from alcohol, allowing your body to physically adapt to having no alcohol. You will suffer withdrawal symptoms at this stage and the detox may need to be medically supervised as, depending on the severity of your symptoms, this can often be life threatening.

  1. Counselling & psychotherapy

This will usually be a combination of group and individual therapy. The aim of the counselling is to help the individual accept and recognise that they have a problem and explore ways in which this problem can be overcome. It will address any related mental health issues, identify unhelpful patterns of behaviour and help the person develop new strategies for creating lasting change.

  1. Learning new life skills

As part of your individual rehabilitation plan, you will be given a range of tasks to complete and training in new life skills. This might include analysing your feelings in response to the treatment you have received so far and being given new ways of managing your life, such as anger management, social and communication skills, time and money management, nutrition and fitness, social and leisure activities. You will be expected to implement these new skills in your everyday life

  1. Ongoing support

Once you have completed your initial rehabilitation programme, it will be recommended that you join a local support group. After rehab, staying sober is a lifelong process and attending support group meetings will not only provide you with emotional support of others going through the same thing but it will also help you to avoid relapse.

What happens when you go through detox?

For someone who has become alcohol dependent, trying to cut your alcohol intake can be challenging. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms you may experience during detox and how longBlood_pressure_measurement-400x300 Alcohol & Alcoholism they might last is generally dependent on how long and how much you have been drinking.  There is no set timeframe but most cases of acute withdrawal will be over within a week to ten days.

Drinking alcohol increases the levels of dopamine in your brain. When you drink regularly, your brain stops bothering to produce its own dopamine, expecting the presence of alcohol to do the job instead.

Withdrawing from alcohol when your body has become dependent on it, can cause some severe reactions, known as withdrawal symptoms, which can potentially be fatal. Severe alcoholics should only attempt alcohol withdrawal under medical supervision.

The stages of Alcohol Withdrawal

The effects of alcohol withdrawal are likely to start around 4 -6 hours after your last drink. The symptoms usually move through different stages or severity.

Stage One
Tremors are the first detox symptoms which usually begin within 12 hours of the last drink. Other symptoms associated with this first stage are insomnia, anxiety, headaches, sweating, abdominal pain, vomiting, depression and fatigue.

Stage Two

Hallucinations start between 12 and 24 hours after the last drink, where you may see or hear things which are not actually there. These hallucinations can be auditory, visual and tactile and many people in particular report seeing and feeling bugs crawling on their skin.

Symptoms from stage one and stage two often overlap with the Stage 1 symptoms becoming more severe.

Stage Three
After 48 hours the person will begin to experience seizures caused by the dehydration that alcohol withdrawal causes. This stage affects the whole body, with more violent shaking than that experienced in the tremulousness stage. The individual can lose consciousness as well.

Stage Four

Stage four is known as delirium tremens or DT’s. This phase can begin from three to four days after a person stops drinking and as long as two weeks afterwards. This is the most dangerous stage, but not everyone experiences it. It could also be fatal, so medical attention is necessary to address the symptoms. Delirium tremors/DTs can cause the individual to experience confusion, continued hallucinations, the feeling of being threatened, palpitations, seizures, fever, sweating and even stroke and heart attack.

This stage is when the withdrawal becomes a serious threat to life if the patient is not receiving medical supervision.

Detox symptoms will gradually subside as the body becomes used to managing without alcohol.

Do you have to go to Rehab to recover from Alcoholism?

The term rehab is usually used to refer to rehabilitation centres, which are specialist treatment centres, usually requiring a stay as an in-patient. The reason lots of people finally enter rehab is often because they have failed to manage it by themselves or relapsed. This does not mean however that it is impossible to do it by yourself, some people do, but they are more likely to be those people who are less severely dependent.

There are different ways you could consider managing your own withdrawal from alcohol:

Self Help

There are so many resources available on the internet that by doing a bit of research you might be able to find a self-help technique or programme which you feel might work for you.  Read books and take inspiration from other people’s success stories. Before starting any programme of self-help, you should talk to your GP as you may need medication to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

Support Groups

Lots of people have found support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous really help them to overcome their alcohol addiction. These support groups work on the basis that people going through the same challenges, work together to support each other through mutual understanding and empathy. They are free to join and many people manage to break their addictions through support group meetings

Online rehab

The Online Rehab is a unique rehab programme which can be done completely online and provides two different types of treatments, both of which provide one to one personalised support with qualified counsellors. One is a programme of one hour sessions, run over 28 consecutive days which can be used as an introduction to the therapeutic process and get your journey started. The other is the Recovery Support programme which can be used to support you once your recovery is well underway, often after a stay in rehab. The cost of The Online Rehab is considerably less than a stay in a residential rehabilitation centre and can be a good alternative way to a successful recovery. 

What is the 12 step recovery programme?

You may have heard about the 12 step programme for recovery from addiction and wondered what it is. It is a set of 12 guiding principles to help people on the road to recovery. Originally 12-steps-programme-282x300 Alcohol & Alcoholismestablished by Alcoholics Anonymous and used in many support group style recovery programmes, the original 12 steps have often been slightly adapted as they were based on religious principles. Some people find it hard to relate to the spiritual nature of these principles and in today’s AA meetings you are not expected to accept or follow these Twelve Steps in their entirety if you feel unwilling or unable to do so.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

How does counselling help with alcoholism recovery?

Most rehabilitation programmes will include some form of counselling after detox, which will often continue for some time after the initial detox. There are different types of counselling and the type you have will depend on your own personal preferences as well as your level of dependency.

Psychodynamic Counselling – this form of counselling usually looks at your own personal history, your relationships and anything in your past that may have led you to turning to alcohol. It will help you explore personal issues, understand why things have happened to you and help you to come to terms and accept things that might be bothering you subconsciously. Many people use alcohol as a way of covering up difficult feelings and emotions and addressing these issues can help you to recognise how you can make changes.

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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – also known as CBT, this form of therapy does not focus on things that have happened, but rather looks at the here and now. It helps people to become consciously aware of their negative patterns of behaviour which lead them to drinking and provides the tools to help change those patterns of behaviour and reinforce new positive behaviours.

What should I do if I think I have a drink problem?

Accepting you have a problem is the most important step on the road to recovery.  Now you can do something about it.

Speak to one of our professional advisors on 0203 955 7700 and they will listen to your history and make some recommendations on the best course of action to help you overcome your addiction.


We are here 24/7 to help get you and your recovery on the right path.

    Our promise to you

    thumbOur advice will always be led by your needs and is free, confidential and impartial.
    thumbOur experienced professionals will treat you with compassion and understanding.
    thumbOur purpose is to provide you with all the information needed to make informed decisions.

    Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

    The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

    Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

    • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
    • Lorazepam (Ativan)
    • Diazapam (vailium)

    Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

    There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

    • Naltrexone
    • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
    • Nalmefene
    • Acamprosate (campral)

    Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

    There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

    Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

    A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

    Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

    The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

    Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

    Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

    Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

    *based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

    There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

    If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

    If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

    Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

    How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

    There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

    Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

    There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

    Local treatment

    Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

    Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

    Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

    Treatment Away

    Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

    As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

    When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

    There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

    Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

    There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

    Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

    Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

    Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

    Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

    Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

    Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

    How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

    The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

    Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

    Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

    Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

    You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

    The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0203 955 7700.

    There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.