If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction to drugs, please know that you are not alone and it’s normal to feel scared and concerned. We are here to offer background information on drug addiction and what you can do to get help. If you are based near London and South England and need confidential advice you can talk to us at CATCH Recovery on 0203 468 6602.

How To Tell If Someone Is Using Drugs

Drug abuse can manifest in a variety of different ways depending on the drug used. Some of the main symptoms of drug abuse are:

Physical Symptoms:

  • frequent flu-like symptoms
  • dilated pupils
  • red eyes
  • nausea
  • shaking
  • clenching and grinding teeth
  • weight loss
  • insomnia
  • low libido 
  • itching and scratching
  • excessive sweating

Behavioural Symptoms:

  • relationship difficulties
  • mood swings
  • behavioural changes
  • social isolation
  • loss of interest in hobbies
  • anxiety/ depression
  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • change of friends
  • secretive behaviour
  • dishonesty
  • manipulative behaviour
  • financial problems

What Is Drug Addiction?

When a person comes to us suffering from drug addiction we often hear from their loved ones that they have noticed extreme changes in behaviour. The addicted person will often talk about changes to thought patterns or physical changes. We know that addiction can take place slowly over many years, or it can develop rapidly if the environment is right and the person is struggling with other issues. And certain types of drugs have been proven to be more addictive than others e.g. crack cocaine and crystal meth. The most commonly used addictive drugs are alcohol, nicotine, cannabis and cocaine.

People can take up consumption of drugs for a variety of reasons:

  • As a way of coping – relieve stress and anxiety, to forget about problems
  • For the “feel good” sensations – feeling of pleasure, to achieve a “high” effect
  • Curiosity or experimenting – to be accepted as part of a group
  • To achieve better results – improve performance at work or to improve thinking

What Causes Drug Addiction?

There are many reasons why someone may end up with drug addiction.

Sometimes what starts as a social experiment, for example smoking cannabis to be accepted as part of a social group or taking cocaine to perform better at work, can develop over time into an addiction. For others, they may be battling with pain caused by trauma, abuse or grief. 

People can become addicted to those feelings and sensations associated with drug consumption and oftentimes, people seeking treatment are struggling with addiction to more than one drug.

Drug Use vs. Drug Abuse

Sometimes taking certain medications can become addictive as well. When drug consumption refers to medically recommended and prescribed medication, and when the medicine is taken for a medical reason and this occasional use is not harmful, this type of consumption is not considered “drug abuse”. 

Drug abuse is considered to be a problem when a person begins to take prescribed or non-prescribed drugs to change their mental or physical state. Consuming prescribed medication for reasons other than what they are medically prescribed for, is considered drug misuse and can cause addiction and severe, unintended side effects.  

Common Consequences of Drug Addiction

Long-term drug use can be very difficult to recover from. If the brain is damaged, it can be much harder for a person to focus on their recovery and get pleasure from the everyday things in life. 

Drug addiction can result in decreased quality of life as well as social, mental, and physical problems. Drug addiction can lead to dangerous consequences for a person’s physical and mental health.

The most common negative consequences include:

  • financial difficulties
  • job loss / absenteeism
  • school absences
  • isolation from friends and family
  • feelings of fear, guilt, and shame
  • jail/trouble with the law
  • relationship troubles
  • hospitalisation
  • psychosis, paranoia and other mental health changes
  • skin bruises and abscesses
  • risks to personal safety and abuse
  • risky sexual behaviour
  • sexual diseases and dysfunctions
  • brain damage
  • suicidal thoughts
  • homelessness
  • death

Drug Addiction, Physical Dependence & Tolerance

Addiction, tolerance, and dependence are related terms referring to different phases of drug consumption.

Addiction refers to a physical and psychological disability. The brain’s reward system of a person living with addiction is negatively affected. Dependence is a physiological condition; a person’s system becomes dependent on a certain substance to function properly.

If a person is taking drugs to achieve certain sensations, they can develop tolerance to that substance over time. Tolerance involves the need of consuming more and more of the same substance for its effect to set in, as the system is adjusting to its presence in the body. 

If you are struggling with drug dependence, your brain and body have already got used to a certain substance and it has become part of the normal functioning of your system. When ceasing the drug consumption suddenly, the body may need a period to readjust to the absence of the substance. This readjusting phase can result in experiencing unpleasant symptoms, known as withdrawal syndrome.

Living With Drug Addiction

A person living with addiction can develop coping techniques during detox and therapy. The consequences of addiction and dependence can be detrimental, and many people fail to access the proper treatment and therapy programmes to rehabilitate themselves. If you are struggling with addiction, our specialists are here to help you manage and overcome it. 

How to Help Someone Who Is Taking Drugs

Drug addiction is a complex condition. If a loved one is engaged in drug consumption, your impulse may be to take charge of the situation: confront and try to help them. By doing so you may be pushing them away. We recommend you talk with an addiction specialist about the available options to help a drug user. Your safety comes first when you are involved in this type of intervention. 

Drug Addiction Treatment

The optimal treatment depends on the drug user’s personal circumstances and on the substance they consume. Our rehab specialists will work with the person struggling with addiction to create a customised treatment plan that fits their needs. Such a rehab plan might include various elements: 

Detoxification

The process of detoxification clears the body of the substance a person is addicted to and safely manages withdrawal symptoms in a safe environment. 

Medication

For people with opioids dependence, detoxification and treatment might involve taking certain medication during a transition period, to facilitate quitting and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Therapy

Psychotherapy, or “Talking Therapies” are effective in making the drug user realise how their thoughts and feelings affect their consumption behaviour.

Contact us for help and advice about drug addiction and treatment. At CATCH Recovery, London, we are here to help everyone find the right treatment option and develop healthy coping mechanisms to lead a happy life.