Heroin is a powerful opiate that usually comes in the form of a white or brown powder and is either injected, smoked or snorted. Also known as smack, gear or brown, heroin is a highly-addictive drug that kills more people in the UK than any other illegal drug. Overdosing on heroin is very easy to do – even if you have built up a tolerance to the drug. While addiction to heroin is common, recovery is possible. In order for an individual to stop using and recover from the cravings and urges this drug induces, safer drugs may be prescribed, including methadone and buprenorphine, in addition to high-quality counselling and support.
Cocaine is a stimulant that can become addictive with prolonged and regular use. There are three types of cocaine; coke (which looks like a fine, white powder), crack (which comes in the form of small rocks) and freebase (a crystalised powder).
Regular use of any type of cocaine can make a person feel anxious, depressed and paranoid. Frequent use can build up a tolerance, requiring you to use more and more each time. This is when addiction takes hold. Since one of the effects of this drug is to increase a feeling of happiness, cocaine changes the way the brain releases its ‘happy chemical’, dopamine, and is therefore highly addictive. The comedown associated with cocaine is also extremely unpleasant, and many people continue to get high to overcome these negative effects.
Marijuana, which is more commonly known as cannabis, is the most widely-used illegal drug in the UK today and with heavy and continued use is extremely addictive, causing both physical and mental problems. As with other addictive drugs, you can develop a tolerance to marijuana, meaning the more you use, the more you need to get high. Many people use marijuana as a means of relaxing, but continued, regular use can result in panic, anxiety and paranoia, as well as an increased risk of developing a psychotic illness, such as schizophrenia. Since it is most commonly smoked with tobacco, users who develop an addiction to marijuana are likely to become addicted to nicotine, too, which increases your risk of lung cancer.
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a disease that affects people of all walks of life and can have devastating effects on one’s physical, mental and social health. While it is legal to consume alcohol in the UK if you are aged 18 or over, addiction to the substance is still a huge issue and, in some cases, can be life threatening. Needing a drink to get through the day, hiding alcohol from loved ones and drinking at inappropriate times, such as at work, are all signs that someone has developed a drinking problem and needs professional help. Alcoholism can lead to liver and heart failure, which can both be fatal, as well as have damaging effects on one’s personal relationships and reputation at work and in their social life.
Addiction to prescription drugs is often underestimated, but it can be just as dangerous as a dependence on an illegal drug. Some prescribed medications have psychoactive effects, which is what makes a substance addictive. You may be prescribed a drug to help combat a health problem, but it is possible to build up a tolerance and dependence on such a drug. Using a prescribed drug beyond medical instruction is a sign of an addiction and this is when help is required. Addictive prescription drugs can include painkillers, sleeping pills, antidepressants, weight loss pills and ADHD medication, among many others.
While commonly referred to as mental health conditions, eating disorders are also an addiction like any other, hindering an individual’s ability to make sound and healthy decisions in their day-to-day life. The most common types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, all of which display symptoms of obsessive behaviour surrounding food and self image. An addiction to exercise, purging and binging may go hand in hand with any one of these eating disorders.
We have seen first-hand how high-quality care leads to the long-term recovery of many mental and behavioural disorders, and it is our aim to continue this work.