Sunday, January 10, 2021


 By Eva Fydrych

You Always Wanted To Ask

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New Year, fresh start. As we are busy celebrating a new beginning and making resolutions for the upcoming year, some of us are facing issues that are overwhelming and difficult to handle.


It usually starts in a very innocent way. A joint smoked with a friend, an MDMA pill taken at the party to have a good time... Drugs have become so common and so easily available that it's difficult to meet someone who has never tried them.

It starts with curiosity. We are attracted to something new and unknown, something forbidden. 

At first, we don't notice the negative effects. You even start wondering why they say drugs are dangerous - all you can feel and experience are the positive sides. And that's probably one of the biggest dangers of drug addiction; negative effects start appearing slowly, you are not aware of the damage that is being done inside. You want to feel good, careless and happy. You ignore first signs that something is not right. You don't notice changes in your behaviour as they are slow and gradual.

And then comes a day when you just slip into a vicious circle of addiction that is harder to break than anything else.

Dealing with someone's drug problem is just as hard as battling your own addiction. Looking from the outside, it's difficult to understand why people ruin their lives (and also lives of everyone else around them as drug addiction never affects just a person in question - it destroys all relationships). Most of the time you will feel helpless and overwhelmed by the severity of the problem.

Overcoming addiction is not easy and the risk of relapse and getting back to the old habits is very high. In most cases the recovery process cannot be done without professional help and direction from organisations such as Rehab UK

While beating drug addiction is not easy and requires lots of strength, patience and perseverance, there are many successful stories and starting a journey to a sober, beautiful life is always worth it.

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Let's have a closer look at drug addiction and answer some of the most common questions you may have.

Why people take drugs?

There isn’t one and definite answer to this question as people take drugs for a variety of reasons and no one who tries an illegal drug for the first time is actually planning to get addicted. It all begins with curiosity, peer pressure, an urge to try something new, to relax and unwind or quite the opposite - to get an extra energy, to escape the reality and everyday problems, to be more happy, to stop feeling emotional or physical pain, and the list goes on…

How does it start?

Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, can begin with infrequent, experimental use of recreational drugs such as marijuana - usually in various social situations: with friends, at the party, during vacation. For some people the use of the drug becomes more and more frequent. For others addiction starts with exposure to prescribed medications (especially opioid painkillers).

“Environmental factors known to influence substance abuse and the likelihood of addiction include: associating with a peer group in which substance abuse is common, exposure during childhood and adolescence to substance abuse in the home, ease of access to substances of abuse, the experience of trauma and/or life challenges, poverty, stress, cultural factors and discrimination.” - Source: UK Rehab

What exactly is it?

Drug addiction is a serious disease that affects a person's brain and behaviour and leads to an inability to stop using drugs (legal or illegal) despite the harm they cause. It is with noticing that substances such as alcohol and nicotine are also considered drugs. 

“Addiction is a much-misunderstood concept, with a different aspect of the condition often been confused and conflated by the general public. Strictly speaking, addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward system in which an individual engages compulsively in certain behaviours – such as the consumption of drugs or continuous gambling – despite the awareness that doing so may have negative consequences.” - Source: UK Rehab

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How to recognise symptoms of drug addiction?

  • the need to use drugs regularly
  • having to use bigger quantities of the drug to get the same effect as before
  • intensive thoughts about getting and using the drug that overcome everything else
  • taking more of the drug that intended and over longer periods of time than before
  • making sure that you always have the drug with you and making getting it top priority
  • getting irritated if you are unable to buy or take the drug
  • spending more and more money on drugs, getting in debt, buying drugs instead of food or paying your bills, borrowing money for drugs
  • social withdrawal and inactivity
  • lack of energy, feeling constantly tired, becoming sick, lack of motivation, sudden weight loss (or gain), moodiness, irritability, problems with concentration, inability to think clearly, compulsive and irrational behaviour 
  • neglecting school or work, missing important appointments  
  • spending more and more time under influence of drugs or recovering from the effects of taking them
  • not being able to stop even if you keep trying
  • doing things you wouldn’t normally do: becoming aggressive and out of control, having unprotected sex, impaired driving, stealing, engaging in illegal activities to get money for drugs, etc.
  • hurting your family, friends or loved ones in ways you wouldn’t try before; psychotic and violent behaviour
  • inability to control negative effects of drug addiction: anger, depression, confusion, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, nightmares, memory problems, insomnia, etc.
  • inability to function normally without taking the drug
  • neglected appearance  
  • withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit

Why drug addiction is dangerous?

Using drugs for a prolonged period of time comes with an array of mental, physical, and social consequences and includes:

  • behavioural change (becoming withdrawn, losing interest in everyday activities, becoming violent, inability to control your mood and behaviour)
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • psychosis (hallucinations, delusions, nightmares)
  • paranoia
  • suicidal thoughts
  • low self-esteem
  • decreased quality of life
  • brain damage
  • sexual dysfunction
  • alienation from friends and family
  • reputational damage
  • illness related to poor hygiene
  • malnutrition
  • problems at school / work, loss of professional opportunities
  • financial problems
  • engagement in criminal activity
  • homelessness
  • drug-specific long-term health risks (heart disease, mental illness, and more)

It is worth stressing that in some cases even a one-time consumption of the drug can result in permanent psychological damage and behavioural change (LSD / Acid, Ecstasy / MDMA). Some drugs are not only highly addictive but also have a high potential for overdose (Heroin, Methamphetamine / Meth / Crystal Meth / Ice, PCP / Angel Dust, Ketamine, GHB, Crack Cocaine).

“Drug abuse can have a wide variety of effects upon the brain. Alongside the development of dependence and tolerance, different drugs can affect the brain in different ways. For example, some can cause permanent brain damage after prolonged use, while others lead to long-term or permanent behavioural change.” - Source: UK Rehab

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Why some people become addicted and others not?

The risk of addiction and how fast someone becomes addicted varies from person to person and depends on the type of drugs they take, their overall health, and even genetics. Some drugs, such as heroine, cocaine or opioids, cause addiction more quickly than others and are considered higher risk.

How to stop using drugs?

Depending on the length and depth of your addiction, you may need help from your GP, special support groups, family and friends or - in more serious cases - undergo a professional treatment program which can help you beat the drug addiction and start living a meaningful, healthy life again.

Don’t wait. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances for a long-term recovery. Contact rehab UK today.

How to help someone who is addicted?

People struggling with drug addiction are in most cases in strong denial and don’t want to admit the seriousness of their problem. They are not only reluctant to seek help or treatment, but also react with aggression if someone suggests they may have a problem, looking for excuses and explanation of their behaviour. 

Dealing with a person who is addicted to drugs should be very delicate and well-thought as in some cases even the best intentions may bring more harm than good. The most recommended way is to speak with a professional first and then follow recommended steps and course of action. In all cases a lot of patience, perseverance and determination are required as admitting the problem, the decision to undergo the treatment, and finally the way to recovery are not only very difficult and extremely uncomfortable, but require lots of mental and physical strength - a person in question needs to be ready to face the problems in their life in order to move on.

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Where to look for help?

If you're not ready to approach a doctor or a professional clinic, hotlines may be a good place to make the first step in your journey to recovery. You can get psychological support and receive more information about available treatment options and recommended course of action.

“Addiction is an ongoing battle for millions of sufferers in the UK, and often it’s a battle fought more than once. It’s a struggle for both addicts and their families, and both parties need to know that the right help and support is available. “ - Source: Rehab UK

When to seek emergency help?

In some cases, when you or someone you know has taken a drug and experiences the following symptoms, seek help immediately:

  • shortness of breath / difficulties breathing 
  • changes in consciousness 
  • seizures or convulsions
  • chest pain or pressure (signs of possible heart attack)
  • may have overdosed
  • any other worrying and unusual reaction to the drug (physical or psychological)

“In 2013, the Centre for Social Justice determined that the level of addiction in the UK made it the “addiction capital of Europe.” This includes the use of legal substances, mainly alcohol, and the use of Class A drugs, that include heroin, cocaine, meth, and hallucinogens. £36 billion is spent by the nation every year on treatment relating to drug and alcohol abuse. At the time of filing their report, titled No Quick Fix, the UK had the highest rate of addiction to opioids and the highest lifetime-use of amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy across Europe.

Many view addiction as something that only affects the users themselves but, in reality, casualties from substance abuse are taxing on entire communities and society as a whole. Addiction in the UK affects everyone from loved ones to hospital workers, and even tax payers.” - Source: Addiction Centre

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Remember: Drug addiction isn’t something you should face alone, and you don’t have to! Visit Rehab UK for more information.

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