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Substance abuse and drug addiction are a major concern in the UK, affecting countless individuals and families every year. People of all ages and walks of life can fall victim to this illness, but it is especially prevalent among those with pre-existing mental health conditions.
Between 2020-2021, 63% of individuals seeking treatment said they had a mental health need.
There is a false understanding that illegal drugs are more dangerous than their legal counterparts. Substance abuse is not confined to illegal drug use. Some prescription drugs and, indeed, alcohol have a high potential for abuse too.
Substance Abuse vs Addiction
Drug addiction is often viewed through a lens of “hard drugs” vs “soft drugs” when in fact, addiction has very little to do with the type of substance and everything to do with the individual’s capacity, genetics, chemical balance and tolerance.
Addiction, the most advanced stage of substance abuse, is a psychological illness and a medical condition that requires compassion to understand truly. If you are struggling right now, it’s important to understand that your difficulties are not a result of poor decisions and choices.
The team at CATCH Recovery understands the challenges you are facing, and while it may seem like there is no escape from the strong desire to abuse substances, we know from decades of experience that recovery is possible, no matter how bad things might feel right now.
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Types of Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)
Substance use disorder is an umbrella term used to describe various problems related to using and abusing various substances. In the UK, SUDs fall into three main categories: illegal drug use, prescription drug misuse, and alcohol use disorder. At Catch Recovery London, our specialist services provide effective treatment for all forms of drug addiction.
Illegal Drug Abuse
Illegal drug abuse is defined as any consumption of illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis. Estimates show that 2.7 million adults (4.2% of the UK population) took an illicit drug in the past year.
Cannabis is the most commonly used psychoactive substance, with 7.4% and 16.2% of adults aged 16 to 59 years and 16 to 24 years, respectively, admitting to using it in 2022.
Recreational drug use, although illegal, does not necessarily constitute drug addiction. However, drug abuse can lead to other health complications.
Prescription Drug Misuse
Prescription drug abuse is the misuse of medications typically prescribed by a GP or healthcare professional, except for some over-the-counter medications containing codeine.
Prescription drug misuse can be defined in two ways:
- Taking more than the recommended dose prescribed
- Taking medication not prescribed for you
Although it is uncommon for medical professionals to prescribe benzodiazepines or opioid medications for long periods, it is, unfortunately, possible to purchase these medications illegally, abroad or online.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Alcohol Use Disorder is commonly known as alcoholism, and it describes the relationship between a person and their compulsive drinking habits. Those struggling with an AUD may find themselves preoccupied with alcohol, often neglecting key responsibilities in favour of drinking.
Heavy drinking can lead to physical and psychological dependence and a range of other physical health problems if left untreated.
Are you worried about your drinking? Call us now to get a free initial consultation!
Poly-substance abuse is the combination of multiple drugs, including legal and illicit substances. This type of substance abuse can lead to significant health problems, as the presence of other substances can enhance or inhibit the side effects of each drug. This would make diagnosing side effects and causes very difficult for the medical personnel in case of an emergency.
Cocaethylene (a combination of alcohol and cocaine), for instance, reduces the physical effects of alcohol making it easier to drink to harmful levels without recognising the quantities before they take effect.
Substance Abuse is an Illness, Not a Choice
Regardless of the type of substance or the quantity of use, drug addiction is a psychological illness that manifests in various ways. Like all forms of compulsive behaviour, multiple factors put us at higher risk of developing conditions related to substance abuse:
- Repeat exposure to substance abuse
- Family history
- Psychological problems
- Childhood trauma
- Stressful life events or financial problems
Substance abuse should therefore be treated as a mental health issue. We do not believe in shaming and stigmatising substance abuse and related conditions. Any attempts to do this will result in stronger feelings of guilt and disconnection, making it more difficult to find help.
If you are worried about a loved one, our team is here to support you during this difficult time.
Tolerance & Dependence
Tolerance and dependence are two key components of severe substance use disorders. Tolerance is defined as a decrease in the effectiveness of a substance over time. With some substances, such as opioids and alcohol, our bodies build tolerance. Over time, we cannot feel the same strong effects by using the same doses so that we would add strength or quantity to the standard dose.
This can lead to physical dependence, a state in which the body becomes accustomed and requires substances to function normally. Physical dependency is often associated with withdrawal symptoms which can be difficult to manage without professional help.
The Effects of Substance Abuse on Mental Health
Drug abuse can exasperate mental health problems and increase the risk for developing depression and other mood disorders.
The question of ‘what came first’ is often debated regarding substance abuse and mental health. Does mental illness make us turn to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication? Does it cause mental health issues? The truth is that the illness itself cannot force us into a choice; however, knowing better coping mechanisms can save us from an eventual dual diagnosis.
If you are using self-prescribed medications for a mental health condition, please, contact us now. We are here for you, and we can assist you in feeling better without substance abuse.
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The Impact of Drug Use on Families
The negative effects of substance abuse can affect families and loved ones. Substance abuse can lead to social isolation and disconnect between family members. Financial worries can often result from uncontrollable substance use, which further strains relationships.
Due to the nature of drug addiction, those struggling may experience strong feelings of guilt and may attempt to hide or conceal their substance use from loved ones.
As part of your treatment offering at CATCH Recovery, we welcome family members and loved ones to participate in sessions with our dedicated therapists.
Witnessing drug abuse profoundly affects children, who are statistically more likely to grow up with addiction issues.
There is an ongoing debate over nature vs nurture, where natural effects include those from genetics and neurological predispositions, while nurturing are peer pressure, family environment and similar social constructs. While the evidence does suggest that addiction is partly hereditary, children look up to their caregivers, mimicking healthy coping skills and behaviours. Therefore, socio-environmental factors must be considered as part of treatment and harm reduction.
How Substance Abuse Affects You
Your relationship with substances and how they impact your day-to-day life is unique to you. While there are many ways to define the various stages of a substance use disorder, recognising a problem can be summarised with the following questions or variations:
- Is my current substance use affecting my physical and mental health?
- Is my current substance use hurting family and friends?
- Am I using substances more frequently?
- Would I consider my substance a compulsion?
- Is my drug use due to recent stress, trauma or mental health issues?
- Am I experiencing withdrawal symptoms?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it might be a good time to consider talking to a professional who understands how to help you.
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How We Treat Substance Abuse
At CATCH Recovery, we understand that seeking help for addiction may be difficult and daunting. Coming to terms with having a drug problem is often the hardest step for many, so we invite you to contact us via Live Chat if that feels more comfortable.
We are dedicated to providing a safe and supportive space for you to receive the necessary care without judgement. Our team of therapists, counsellors and medical professionals by trade, but we are also friends, parents, children and partners. We understand the struggles of being unemployed, chronically ill or misunderstood, so we studied how to help others overcome these struggles. We will help you feel better and more confident with your recovery through a comprehensive, holistic treatment approach.
Our aim is to:
- Understand your needs and goals
- Help you identify triggers and stressors that contribute to drug abuse
- Support you and your mental health needs
- Provide you with self-help tools and coping strategies to manage your addiction
- Empower you to live a drug-free life
- Bring the family unit together
Assessing Your Drug Use
Treatment begins with a free, confidential assessment with one of our team here at CATCH Recovery. The assessment will help us:
- Learn more about your history of drug use
- Understand your mental health needs
- Establish a suitable treatment option for you and your loved ones
And can be performed in person, via phone or a video call.
The next step is to have a face-to-face or online consultation based on the initial assessment. This provides an opportunity to discuss the following:
- The nature of your substance abuse issues in more detail
- Existing health problems or medication, you are taking
- Any concerns or difficult emotions you are experiencing
You will be assigned a dedicated therapist to work with you on creating a treatment plan. Your care plan will include:
- Group therapy
- Family or couples counselling
- Relapse prevention strategies
Your treatment will explore the nature of your substance abuse issues and their impact on your wider support network.
Let’s build a solid foundation for your future, long-lasting addiction recovery! Like all illnesses, there may be times when you experience difficult moments on your recovery journey; it’s only natural. Having that additional support during difficult moments can significantly improve outcomes.
So, in addition to our core treatment services, we provide optional post-treatment services, including:
- Sober coaching
- Sober holidays
- Sober transportation services
Contact CATCH Recovery today to discuss the treatment options available to you and your loved ones.