Hide this page

Content tagged with 'alcohol'


06 November 2017

What is Drug and Alcohol Abuse?

Drug and Alcohol abuse is when someone is addicted to taking drugs or drinking or both, and cannot stop taking drugs/drinking when they choose as it is more than a matter of willpower.

Many people do not understand why people become addicted to drugs and alcohol. They mistakenly view drug abuse and addiction as strictly a social problem and may characterize those who take drugs or drink as morally weak. One very common belief is that drink/drug abusers should be able to just stop taking drugs if they are only willing to change their behavior. This is not the case.

What people often underestimate is the complexity of drug and drink addiction. It is a disease that impacts the brain, and because of that, stopping drink and drug abuse is not simply a matter of willpower. Through scientific advances we now know much more about how exactly drugs work in the brain, and we also know that drug and drink addiction can be successfully treated to help people who want to stop abusing drugs/alcohol and live a full happy life.

Some people become addicted to drugs and alcohol due to many reasons. They may suffer from other mental health challenges, for example; depression, and the only way they feel like themselves again is by drinking or taking drugs. There’s a different story behind every drink/drug addiction and all of them are valid. What is also important is wanting to get help and finding services that will allow you to get help.

Who can help?

Your GP is a good place to start. They can discuss your problems with you and get you into treatment. They may offer you treatment at the practice or refer you to your local drink or drug service.

If you're not comfortable talking to your GP, you can approach your local drug/drink treatment service yourself.

Drug Addiction Treatments

Depending on your personal circumstances and also what you're addicted to, when you seek help you may be given a keyworker who will work with you to plan the right treatment for you

There are different types of treatment available. These include

·         Residential treatment – Residential treatment involves living at a facility and getting away from work, school, family, friends, and addiction triggers while undergoing intensive treatment. Residential treatment can last from a few days to several months.

·         Day treatment/Partial hospitalization – Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but wish to still live at home and have a stable living environment. These treatment programs usually meet at a treatment center for 7 to 8 hours during the day, then you return home at night.

·         Outpatient treatment – Not a live-in treatment program, these outpatient programs can be scheduled around work or school. You’re treated during the day or evening but don’t stay overnight. The major focus is relapse prevention.

·         Sober living communities – Living in a sober house normally follows an intensive treatment program such as residential treatment. You live with other recovering addicts in a safe, supportive, and drug-free environment. Sober living facilities are useful if you have nowhere to go or you’re worried that returning home too soon will lead to relapse

Within your treatment, there is likely to be therapies and other treatments to help you get clean. These may include: 

·         Talking therapies – talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), help you to see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behavior.

·         Treatment with medicines – if you are dependent on heroin or another opioid drug, you may be offered a substitute drug, such as methadone. This means you can get on with your treatment without having to worry about withdrawing or buying street drugs.

·         Detoxification (detox) – this is for people who want to stop taking opioid drugs like heroin completely. It helps you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.

·         Self-help – some people find support groups like Narcotics Anonymous helpful. Your keyworker can tell you where your nearest group is. 

·         Reducing harm – your drugs workers will help you reduce the risks associated with your drug-taking. You may be offered testing and treatment for hepatitis or HIV, for example.

Where will you have your treatment?

You may have your treatment while living at home or as a hospital inpatient.

If your drug-related problems are severe or complicated you may be referred to a residential rehab.

For more information about residential rehab, or to find a rehab near you, you can visit rehabonline.

Drink Addiction Treatments

 The treatment options for alcohol misuse depend on the extent of your drinking and whether you're trying to drink less (moderation) or give up drinking completely (abstinence). It is a good idea to go your GP and talk to them about your concerns and goals. Your GP may suggest different types of assessment and support options available to you such as from the local community alcohol services. You can also ask about any free local support groups and other alcohol counselling that may suit you.

If you are worried about your drinking, you may be offered a short counselling session known as a brief intervention. A brief intervention lasts about 5 to 10 minutes, and covers risks associated with your pattern of drinking, advice about reducing the amount you drink, alcohol support networks available to you, and any emotional issues around your drinking

Moderation or Abstinence

Moderation or abstinence are treatment options if you're: 

·         Regularly drinking more than the lower-risk daily levels of alcohol – 14 units a week

·         Experiencing health problems directly related to alcohol

·         Unable to function without alcohol (alcohol dependency) 

Cutting alcohol out completely will have a greater health benefit. However, moderation is often a more realistic goal, or at least a first step on the way to abstinence.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but there are circumstances where abstinence is strongly recommended, including if you

·         Have liver damage, such as liver disease or cirrhosis

·         Have other medical problems, such as heart disease, that can be made worse by drinking

·         Are taking medication that can react badly with alcohol, such as antipsychotics

·         Are pregnant or planning to become pregnant

Abstinence may also be recommended if you've previously been unsuccessful with moderation.

If you choose moderation, you'll probably be asked to attend further counselling sessions so your progress can be assessed, and further treatment and advice can be provided if needed. You may also have regular blood tests so the health of your liver can be carefully monitored. 

Your treatment may include

·         Alcohol Detoxification:

If you need medication to help you stop drinking, it can often be taken at home or when attending a local service daily.

However, some people will need a short stay in a 24-hour medically-supported unit so they can receive safe treatment of their withdrawal symptoms or other problems.

This may be in an NHS inpatient unit, or in a medically-supported residential service, depending on your situation and the assessed medical need. 

·         Intensive Rehabilitation:

Some people are assessed as needing intensive rehabilitation and recovery support for a period after they stop drinking completely; either through attending a programme of intensive support in their local community or by attending a residential rehabilitation service.

This type of intensive treatment is usually reserved for people with medium or high levels of alcohol dependence, and particularly those who have received other forms of help previously that have not been successful.

Who can help?

There are a number of specialist alcohol services that provide help and support for people with a dependence on alcohol or drugs and their friends and family.

  • Drinkline - is the national alcohol helpline. If you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, you can call this free helpline, in complete confidence. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am – 8pm, weekends 11am – 4pm).
  • Inclusion - Inclusion provide adult drug & alcohol treatment services across the county of Cambridgeshire. The contract includes all community drug and alcohol treatment interventions. 1-2-1 support, Group therapy, Detoxification if required and opportunity to apply for rehabilitation services.
  • Narcotics Anonymous - A non-profit fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. We are recovering addicts who meet regularly to help each other stay clean. This is a program of complete abstinence from all drugs. The only requirement for membership is to stop using.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - is a free self-help group. Its "12-step" programme involves getting sober with the help of regular support groups.
  • Al-Anon Family Groups - offer support and understanding to the families and friends of problem drinkers, whether they're still drinking or not.
  • Talk to Frank - support line for anyone with questions/concerns surrounding drugs.
  • Addaction - is a UK-wide treatment agency that helps individuals, families and communities to manage the effects of drug and alcohol misuse.
  • Adfam - is a national charity working with families affected by drugs and alcohol. Adfam operates an online message board and database of local support groups.
  • The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (Nacoa) - provides a free, confidential telephone and email helpline for children of alcohol-dependent parents and others concerned with their welfare. Call 0800 358 3456 for the Nacoa helpline.
  • SMART Recovery - groups help participants decide whether they have a problem, build up their motivation to change and offer a set of proven tools and techniques to support recovery.

For more services here to help, check out our Who Can Help Me Page!