Did you know that drug addiction is one of the leading causes of death in the world? In fact, more people die every year from drug overdoses than car accidents. However, while drug abuse and addiction can cause huge damage, it’s important to know that there is help available if you are ready to make a change in your life. On this page, we will discuss everything you need to know about drug addiction, from its underlying causes to the signs and symptoms to look for in yourself and others. We will also explain the extent of the issue of drug addiction in the UK as well as possible treatment options.
What is drug addiction?
Drug addiction is a condition that develops when a person uses drugs to the point where they become reliant on them and have a compulsive need to take them despite negative consequences. This can happen after using drugs for a short period of time, or it can happen after years of drug abuse. Drug addiction is a chronic and progressive condition, which means that it gets worse over time.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to drug addiction. These include genetics, mental health problems, trauma and environment. If you have a family member who is addicted to drugs or you were exposed to drug abuse at an early age, you are more likely to develop an addiction. This is why drug abuse and addiction are often seen to “run in families”. Mental health problems and traumatic experiences can also increase your risk of drug addiction, as you may turn to drugs in order to self-medicate or cope with the trauma. This often results in a vicious cycle of drug abuse and mental health symptoms because the drug use only exacerbates the underlying problems.
How common is drug addiction in the UK?
It can be hard to get a true idea of the scale of drug addiction in the UK because many people who struggle with drug addiction do not seek help. However, there were two-hundred and seventy thousand people in contact with drug treatment services between April 2019 and March 2020. If you consider that the vast majority of drug users will not be in contact with drug treatment services, it is likely that the true number of people suffering from drug addiction in the UK is actually much higher. The economic impact of drug abuse on the UK is also enormous. According to recent research carried out by the government’s chief drug policy advisor Dame Carol Black, illicit drug use costs the country almost £20 billion a year. This results in funding being diverted away from other important areas such as education, health and housing which all have a knock-on effect on people’s lives and wellbeing.
What are the health impacts of drugs?
There are a variety of drugs that can cause addiction. These include cannabis, methamphetamine, cocaine, opioids and various prescription drugs. Each of these drugs has its own unique effects, but all of them can lead to addiction if they are abused or used excessively on a regular basis. Depending on the type of substance, drug addiction can have a range of short-term and long-term effects. These effects can be physical, mental or emotional and you can experience them from the very first time you take the drug. Short-term effects of drug addiction include things like impaired judgement, slurred speech, drowsiness, hyper aggression, paranoia, nausea and extreme dehydration. Long-term effects of drug addiction include organ damage, memory problems, mental health issues, increased risk of stroke and heart attack, and potentially even death.
Signs of drug addiction in yourself
Addiction can be difficult to spot because it is very sneaky and is often able to convince a person and those around them that there is no issue. In order to get help as soon as possible, however, it is first crucial that you are able to identify and accept that you have a drug addiction. To help you see through the web of deception that addiction weaves, here are some signs of drug addiction to look out for:
- Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from drugs
- Trying to cut down or stop using drugs but being unsuccessful
- Giving up important activities in order to use drugs
- Using drugs despite them causing problems in your life
- Continuing to use the drug despite physical or mental health problems
- Developing a high tolerance to drugs and needing to use more to maintain a satisfying effect
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using drugs
- Lying to friends and family about your drug use
If you recognise any of these signs or symptoms in yourself, then you may need treatment for drug addiction. Get in touch with us today and our team of addiction treatment experts can discuss your situation and the help available.
Signs of drug addiction to look for in others
It is also very important to know how to spot drug addiction in others. This can be very difficult because addiction is adept at staying well-hidden and manifests itself differently in different people. However, here are some of the signs to look for in your loved ones:
- Changes in mood or behaviour
- Changes in appearance
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Financial problems
- Relationship difficulties
- Secretive or suspicious behaviour
If you are concerned that someone close to you is addicted to drugs, then the best thing to do is talk to them about your concerns. It is important to note that these potential symptoms could also be signs of other mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, so if you are unsure, seek professional advice here. While trying to help a loved one with an addiction, it is crucial that you don’t enable their drug-taking behaviour. For example, if you know that money you give them is going to be spent on drugs, don’t give it to them even if this impacts your relationship.
Can drug addiction be cured?
While addiction cannot be “cured” in the traditional sense of the word, there are many fantastic treatment options available that can help you identify the underlying causes of your addiction and create new drug-free coping mechanisms. UKAT provides comprehensive drug rehab programmes that have already helped hundreds of people make a fresh start in life and achieve long-term recovery from drug addiction. To find out more about the options available to you, get in touch with our supportive admissions team.
What is the next step?
If you or someone you know is suffering from drug addiction, the best course of action is to seek professional help as soon as possible. Drug addiction can quickly take over your life and cause immense damage to your health, relationships and finances. There are a number of resources available to help those struggling with drug addiction, so do not hesitate to reach out for help.
Myths about drug addiction
There are a number of myths about drug addiction that can make it difficult for people to seek help. Some of these myths include:
Drug addiction is a choice…
It is a condition that causes a compulsive need to take drugs, making it incredibly difficult to stop.
Drug addicts are weak people…
Addiction has nothing to do with individual strengths or weaknesses. In fact, the mental strength required to overcome addiction shows that people with addictions are often incredibly strong.
Only bad people get addicted…
Drug addiction is a condition that does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, religion or background.
Drug abuse and drug addiction are the same…
Drug abuse is not the same as drug addiction. It is possible to abuse drugs without being addicted to them but they can still have the same damaging effects on your life.
Frequently Asked Questions