Are you worried that you or someone close to you suffering from drug addiction? Help is at hand. Here we tell you more about drug addiction, provide links to various pages that will explain more about the most commonly abused drugs, illicit, legal  and prescription drugs; more about what addiction actually is, the common signs and symptoms to look out for and the treatment options available.

What Is Drug Addiction?

Drug Addiction is a recognised illness of the individual’s bodily cravings and dependency and the minds psychological state. The mind is the driving force that compels the individual to take drugs regardless of consequences or the their want to stop. Public Health England and addiction professionals around the world now recognise addiction as a “chronic relapsing brain disease”. The very nature of the illness, unless comprehensively treated both physically and psychologically, results in repeated attempts to stop and repeated relapses. Drug addiction is a life threatening condition that claims many lives around the world on a daily basis. An individual suffering from the disease of addiction can become addicted to almost anything, including non-substance involved activities such as gambling, love and sex, shopping and people (codependency). Addiction can also apply to alcohol: essentially a drug in liquid form. Most individuals who suffer from drug addiction will tell you that they feel abnormal, empty and without direction and purpose, without drugs in their life. Drugs become their purpose, their whole lives revolve around planning, plotting, manipulating, getting and taking drugs. The overwhelming obsession of the mind compels them to go to great and often very dangerous and damaging lengths in order to get their next hit, high or fix. They have lost the power of reason, choice and control; drugs become their everything, their best friend, their lover, their constant companion. It is this obsession and compulsion that takes many drug addicts to their death. If you have a problem with drugs or have concerns about someone you love, it is vital that you seek professional help and treatment as soon as possible. Delaying this, or just thinking the individual needs to exercise some self control can be deadly.

Why Is Drug Addiction a Disease?

image showing the brain effect of drug addiction

As you can see from the above images of the brain of an addict’s compared to that of a normal brain, the addicts brain severely lacks in natural Dopamine production. They therefore feel empty, depressed, restless and ill at ease in their natural state. Addiction stimulates the brain’s reward system by flooding the brain with Dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for regulating feelings and emotions, movement, motivation and pleasure. Drug abuse overstimulates the brain’s reward system, which re-enforces the addict’s desire to seek out drugs and behaviours that stimulate this part of the brain which leads to feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Their drug of “choice” that stimulates the brain’s reward system can be anything, from alcohol, to food, to gambling, to tobacco, cannabis, cocaine or heroin. Behavioural addictions have the same effect, this is why eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are treated in the same way addiction is. When an addict is not engaging in addictive behaviour or taking drugs, their dopamine levels severely drop, leaving them feeling restless, anxious and depressed; this is why they are compelled to carry on with the addiction.

a visual caricature of how does addiction affect the brain

Addiction is a progressive diseases, the more the drug addict or addict uses drugs or behaviours, the brain’s chemistry alters to a point whereby the only way they can feel any pleasure at all is to take a drink, drug or engage in a process (activity) addiction. This is why drug addicts deteriorate over time and become more and more consumed by their compulsive behaviours and drug addiction. If the individual is addicted to alcohol or drugs, there is a high chance they will develop a physical dependency also. This being the case, a full medical detox is advised to ensure they withdraw safely.

Drug Addiction is classed as, and recognised by addiction and medical professionals around the world as a disease. This is because drug addiction fits with the symptoms and description of what a disease is. A disease is a specific abnormal condition, a disorder of a structure or function, that affects part or all of a person. Addiction is a disease that centres in the individual’s brain, their thoughts, their emotions and in the function of the brain – its receptors, chemistry, and neuro pathways. This applies to all addictions; drugs, alcohol or destructive activities are only an outward symptom and indication that the individual is suffering from the disease of addiction.

In order to treat drug addiction successfully, the individual must undergo a profound change in their thinking and behaviours, creating new and healthier ways of raising their dopamine levels without engaging in active addiction. Over time and practise it is possible to retrain the brain and create new neuro pathways, but these positive practices must be kept up in order for the individual to feel content.

Addiction is an incurable disease of the brain; as yet science has not found a way to rectify the chemical imbalances permanently. Psychological measures and treatment are the most successful way forward in adopting new positive brain rewarding practices, challenging and changing thinking and maintaining recovery.

Drug Addiction and Dependency

an image of a drug addict

Physical addiction to drugs often manifests when an individual builds a tolerance and dependency to a particular drug. This occurs when they have been taking the drug frequently and for a period of time. Tolerance to some drugs can happen within as little as a few weeks of frequent use. Once a tolerance to a certain amount has occurred, the individual then needs more of the particular drug in order to achieve the desired effect. This cycle is endless, as the more tolerance they build, they more they use. Once the brain’s chemistry has adjusted to needing a certain amount; the individual will go into withdrawal if they do not feed the dependency they have developed. Withdrawal from drugs can be very dangerous, in fact life threatening if not carried out correctly with medical supervision. The following drugs are well known for creating a physical dependency that will require a medical detox to withdraw safely from:

  • Alcohol
  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Sleeping Tablets
  • Prescription drugs
  • Opiates
  • Crystal Meth
  • ICE
  • Gabapentin and Pregabalin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Prescription Stimulants
  • Fentanyl
  • Legal highs
  • Ketamin

With other drugs such as Cannabis, Crack Cocaine and Cocaine, the dependency tends to be more psychological than physical; yet the individual will still suffer withdrawal symptoms and may well need some medical help in stopping in order to avoid severe psychological withdrawal symptoms that can leave the individual feeling extremely agitated, depressed and even suicidal.

image showing the effects of drug addiction on the mind

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Drug Addiction?

Physical signs of drug addiction can vary greatly according to the substance, but can include symptoms such as : dilated pupils, pinprick pupils, hyperactivity, unusual chattiness and euphoria, sleepiness, drowsy state, increased or decreased sex drive, weight loss, shakiness, slurred, slowed or quickened speech and poor co-ordination. However, there are some behavioural warning signs of drug addiction, which would indicate your loved one has a problem or addiction:

  • Is your loved one having mood swings or being secretive?
  • Are they disappearing for long periods of time?
  • Have they lost interest in hobbies, friends and socialising?
  • Have they lost interest in their appearance or hygiene?
  • Has their appearance altered substantially
  • Are they behaving out of character?
  • Do they frequently ask for money or has money or items of worth gone missing?
  • Are they mixing within a different social circle and pulled away from long term friends?
  • Have they become unusually unreliable or calling in sick/late for work?
  • Are they neglecting responsibilities, family and children?
  • Have they become isolated and withdrawn from loved ones?
  • Are  items of value  items going missing?

Any marked change in an individual’s appearance or behaviour should not be ignored; it means that your loved one has a problem; quite possibly with drugs, alcohol or an activity based addiction. If you are still unsure, or need professional advice as how to help your loved one get the correct treatment, please call us and we will do all we can to help.

If you are  worried that you’re becoming addicted to drugs, ask yourself the following questions and answer them honestly:

  • Have you built up a drug tolerance – do you need more of the substance to achieve the same effect you used to when you first started using?
  • If you try to stop taking drugs, do you experience withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, nausea, shaking and insomnia?
  • Do you take drugs more frequently than you’ve planned?
  • Has drug use taken over your life?
  • Do you obsess about drugs and think a lot about them?
  • Have you started to neglect responsibilities and lost interest in the things you used to enjoy?
  • Are you using the drug frequently?
  • If addicted to a prescribed drug, are you using the drug to get high and taking more than the prescribed dose or buying more illicitly to pad out your prescriptions?
  • Do you feel you need the drug in order to function?
  • Have you lost the power of choice as to whether you can take it or leave it?
  • Have others expressed concern that you have a problem with drugs?
  • Do you put drugs before your own health needs and the needs of your loved ones and family?
  • Are you unable to stop?
  • Have you suffered consequences as a result of your drug taking, such as financial debt, troubled relationships, physical health and mental health problems, criminal activity, problems holding down a job?

Answering yes to one or more of these questions, indicates that you definitely have a problem with drugs and quite possibly an addiction resulting in loss of control. Drug addiction kills, and only ever gets worse without the correct treatment. Addiction Helper can get you the help you need to turn your life around today. Please call us for advice on how we can help!

image showing that drug addiction is treatable

Whom Does Drug Addiction Affect?

Drug addiction can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, profession, background, social class, education, race or religion. Addiction is an incurable disease of the mind, that manifests in compulsive physical behaviours and the need to change the way you feel. Someone suffering from addiction will often feel ill at ease, restless, irritable and discontent in their natural state without drink or drugs. Alcohol and drugs provide an addict with a sense of ease and comfort instantly and block out uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. Whilst it is incurable (which means you will never regain control of alcohol or drugs) it is fully treatable. The important thing to remember is that physical treatment isn’t enough (ie a detox); as with the same illness, still residing in the mind left untreated, the individual will relapse or find a new and often destructive way of alleviating the way that they feel. The psychological aspect of addiction MUST be treated professionally in order for recovery to be maintained a day at a time. Like any mental or physical illness, it can affect anyone and it is not the individuals fault for having it, but is their responsibility to ask for help and seek the correct treatment and maintain their recovery first and foremost.

Is Drug Abuse the Same as Drug Addiction?

Drug abuse is the harmful and abusive use of a substance, typically for the purpose of altering one’s mood or physical feelings. In individuals suffering from drug abuse, drugs are taken for purposes other than those for which they are intended for and / or in greater quantities than recommended. Typically abused substances include prescriptions drugs, alcohol, over the counter medications, legal and illegal drugs. In the case of illegal drugs, many can take them but not end up bingeing on them as an addict would or someone with an abuse problem would. They only do it on a recreational and infrequent basis and maintain control so that it doesn’t interfere or affect any other areas of their life.  Someone who abuses a drug repeatedly is considered an addict. You do not have to have a physical dependency to be an addict. There are two main points that separates an addict from others who do not suffer from addiction:

  1. Once the individual picks up a drug, drink or destructive behavior, they have little or no control in terms of the amount they take and will only stop when the money has run out, they have passed out, or there is a severe consequence
  2. Once the individual has stopped taking substances, psychologically they are unable to change the the mindset of addiction on their own. They may swear off or stop/detox many times, but due to the disease residing in the brain, they are unable to stay stopped and inevitably end up relapsing.

image of a woman snorting cocaine

For the majority of substances, the line between normal use of a substance and substance abuse is quite clear. Furthermore, the speed at which an individual becomes addicted to a drug is dependent upon many factors and an individual’s sensitivity to a drug and how their body and brain respond to it. All drugs, if abused, can be potentially harmful. All drugs are associated with short-term and long-term negative health effects. Abuse of any drug, legal or illegal, prescribed or unprescribed can still have devastating consequences; if they are an addict, they will not be able to exercise any control during binges or periods of abuse. They will definitely have the potential to lead on to a full blown addiction and dependency. Most individuals that develop addiction, will start with recreational use and then abuse of the substance; full blown addiction and dependency can occur if the abuse becomes more and more frequent. Abuse of any substance is only one step away from a full blown dependency and addiction.

Substance abuse can be treated with the same methods used to treat addiction, using behavioural-based therapies and/or medications. Treatment methods may vary between individuals, and multiple treatment courses may be required to achieve success. We recommend that if you do have a substance abuse problem, that you call us to discuss the best treatment options available according to your individual treatment needs and requirements.

Treatment for Drug Addiction

The good news is that drug addiction can be successfully treated. The first step towards treating drug addiction is usually detoxification where a dependency has developed – a process that removes the drug’s toxins from the body. Withdrawing from any drug can be intensely painful and, for some drugs, sudden withdrawal can be life-threatening. Detox should therefore always be carried out in a medically supervised environment where the drug addict is regularly monitored and medication can be prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Detox for drug addiction is most effective in a residential treatment, as individuals are given care around the clock and drugs are not accessible. There is also the added advantage of undergoing a full rehabilitation programme at the same time, to treat the psychological aspect of addiction. This is a must for any addict that has lost complete control of their substance use.

Detox alone is not enough for sustained abstinence from drug use. A period of rehabilitative care is essential to help the individual understand the nature of their drug addiction and to equip them for a life free from substance abuse. Rehabilitation for drug addiction involves a combination of treatments, including individual counselling, group work, cognitive behavioural therapy, education, and relapse prevention. Like detox, rehab for drug addiction is most successful in a residential facility with an intensive, structured programme of treatment.

addiction recovery image

Rehab Options and Treatment Options for Drug Addiction

Can You Get Free Rehab for Drug Addiction?

Free rehab for drug addiction can be accessed through two pathways; there are a select number of Christian Rehabs in the UK; but they are religion specific and not for everyone. The other route is to apply for funding through your local drug and alcohol team (DAT). You can find details of your local DAT team here: . DAT takes self referrals and also referrals from other agencies, so you do not have to go through your GP. By engaging with you local DAT you will receive keyworker session and access to groups held within in the centre. They can also arrange for counselling. However, applying for funding for drug rehab is not easy and nor is it quick. On average it takes up to six months, a year in some areas. Waiting lists are very lengthily and funding is very limited, so therefore only awarded to most deserving cases, usually Class A drug dependencies and Alcohol dependencies. If you are considered a suitable candidate for drug rehab funding, you will be required to attend numerous appointments and complete a pre rehab course in preparation and to show you are willing. Sadly, some die waiting for rehab, as most individuals with a drug abuse problem or drug addiction will only seek out help once they are in some kind of crisis.

DAT treatment is helpful for those that do not have a chronic addiction problem, but many drug addicts find it extremely difficult to get and stay clean in their own area, with temptation all around and easy access through dealers. Some individuals are required by law to attend DAT appointments if they have engaged in criminal activity; this means that those that really want to get clean will also be mixing with some individuals who don’t and who are only attending as part of their probation requirements.

The quickest way to access addiction rehab is through a private rehab clinic. If you or your family have the means to fund this, Addiction Helper can assist you in an immediate admission today!. Call us now for more information on how to access the best drug addiction treatment centres in the UK and overseas.

Meetings for Drug Addiction

You or your loved one can access free local community support from 12 Step fellowships such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous and Alcoholic Anonymous. There are also Smart group meetings available which focus of goal setting in achievable measures. Please click on the links to find out more about their meetings and to locate one near to you.

Private Rehab for Drug Addiction

Addiction Helper work with only the best drug rehabs in the UK and Overseas. We work with over 100 CQC regulated treatment centres of the highest calibre. Finding the right drug rehab without professional guidance can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We are here to ensure that you or your loved one access the best treatment possible and the treatment that is most likely to free you or your loved one from their particular addiction on a permanent basis.

addiction recovery path image

We are passionate about saving the lives of those afflicted by this life threatening disease and in reuniting families and loved ones. Addiction affects the whole family, not just the addict; the whole family need support whilst their loved one recovers and we can help with this too. Families of addicts can receive support through our rehabs and also here: Adfam and Famanon.

The professional rehabs that we work with only employ addiction professional with impressive credentials and experience including: Doctors, Nurses, Counsellors, Psychologists, Holistic therapist and Support workers. Many of our staff have themselves previously overcome an addiction, so are therefore in a unique position to have a great insight into the disease of addiction and how it affects the individual and their loved ones lives. They understand fully the nature of the disease and combine their personal experience and qualifications to comprehensively treat the psychological aspect of drug addiction in their patients.

By admitting to one of our clinics, you or your loved one will benefit from the following, evidence based, powerful and healing drug addiction treatments:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioural Therapy
  • Trauma therapy
  • One to one counselling
  • Group and process therapy
  • Educational workshops and relapse prevention techniques
  • 12 Step therapy or Holistic based approach
  • Holistic therapies, including Mindfulness, Meditation, Acupuncture, Fitness, Yoga, Tai Chi, Art therapy, Music therapy and much , much more!


group meeting image

Furthermore, you or your loved one will also receive 1 year complimentary aftercare on completion of treatment. Aftercare is a vital part of the ongoing recovery process. It assists in the transition from inpatient rehab treatment to integration back into daily living, clean and sober. It also keeps the individual focused and motivated in their recovery and further cements the foundations of an addiction free life!

Inpatient Medical Drug Detox

On admission to one of our exemplary clinics, you will be comprehensively assessed by a qualified doctor, experienced in treating all manner of addictions and co occurring illnesses, such as Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Eating Disorders and OCD. They will also be experienced in treating Dual diagnosis clients; those that have a confirmed diagnosis of a mental health illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. On completion of the medical assessment, the Doctor will prescribe a full medical detox regime for any drug or alcohol dependency identified. They will also ensure that any other illnesses are comprehensively treated and consult with the Counsellors and rehabs clinical team as to what needs to be addressed in the individual’s treatment plan.

image of a girl during consultation with a therapist

The duration of treatment recommended will depend on a number of factors, all of which will be taken into account. Addiction Helper carry out free over the phone telephone assessments, conducted by one of our highly trained and skilled addiction treatment experts. We will be able to recommend a suitable treatment programme and rehab that will meet all of your treatment needs. Our rehabs offer both short term and long term programmes, secondary and tertiary care also. We have a variety of drug rehabs from low cost affordable rehab to luxury rehab and everything in between. We will devise a treatment plan that will take into consideration the patient’s treatment needs first and foremost, the budget available, location and personal preferences.

With one phone call to us you can take that first step to permanent freedom from Drug Addiction; call us now for further help and assistance!