Drug Addiction & Abuse

Picture of John Gillen

John Gillen - Last Updated: April 26, 2022

Last reviewed: March 31, 2022 by Dr Alexander Lapa. All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

The identification of a drug addict is a wide-spanning, universal stereotype of someone who’s addicted to drugs.

Yet, under the surface, there’s so much more to a drug addiction diagnosis, from the range of substances that are abused, to the varying causations of such habit and to the effects of a substance use disorder (SUD), meaning that specific speculation should be avoided.

To be addicted to a drug usually results in physical and psychological dependence, in fact, recognised as a brain condition.

While consequences are inevitable, the short-term reward system in the brain influences the compulsive behaviour of drug abuse, which if enabled consistently, can develop the addiction cycle.

Across the world, individuals from all backgrounds are either misusing or abusing drugs to the point where addiction can easily materialise, commonly linked to drugs such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis, opioids, prescription drugs and antidepressants. But it is important to remember that addictions are linked to trauma, stress, mental health issues and environmental factors.

Identifiably a complex disorder, down to the variants of experiences, influences and side effects, a drug addiction diagnosis should be taken seriously.

However, for those witnessing such behaviours, it’s essential to remember that an individual who’s abusing drugs will not be aware of the ingrained changes and will not be actively fuelling their addiction, instead of through subconscious involuntary cravings.

The best way to work through a drug addiction will be to complete treatment, via residential rehab, to break the addiction cycle, and to unravel depending behaviours on addictive substances. The fist important step to overcoming addiction will to be too under a go a drug detox.

Available here through tailored and intensive programmes, work towards understanding and overcoming a substance use disorder (SUD), as a respected individual, rather than an addict.



Are you suffering from Drug Addiction and need help? If so, Rehab Clinics Group are a leading UK based experts in drug rehabilitation treatment. Find out how we can help by getting in touch with our friendly team today. You can either call our confidential helpline on 0800 470 0382 or request a callback by clicking on the below form.

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What Is Drug Addiction?

To be addicted to drugs embodies the inability to control and work through physical and psychological cravings of exposure and consumption.

While the consequences of consumption are usually digestible, for someone displaying addictive tendencies, the short-term effects will prevail.

Drug Addiction and Abuse

Drug addiction is recognised as a brain condition that is heavily linked to the internal reward system. For many, drugs are used to trigger such a system, down to the emotions and energies that they carry.

For example, drugs may play a motivating and uplifting role, hence the fulfilling responses, which once affecting the brain, will become a longed-for encounter.

This is how addiction can develop quickly, without control over overconsumption, as the brain senses superficial benefits.

However, drugs are dangerous, are toxic and are highly addictive, meaning that such benefits are at surface-level, where side effects, withdrawal symptoms and the consequences of addiction can instead be detrimental.

To be addicted to drugs is usually defined as an active choice, a selected lifestyle, or a utilised coping strategy. However, it’s instead a compulsive condition, controlling individuals, requiring intervention and treatment.


Drug Abuse Vs Addiction

Heavy drug consumption can amount to an addiction, which we’ve covered above. Yet it can also result in abuse, classed as substance use disorder (SUD), which can be a one-time occurrence.

An addiction is an ongoing, impactful condition that usually develops over time, requiring the completion of a restorative treatment programme.

However, a drug dependency can be short-lived, will usually only induce physical side effects and associations, and will require a reduced offering of treatment.

It’s important to remember that not all drug users will develop an addiction diagnosis. Yet, without controlling drug abuse, exposure to addictive drugs and their reward-based traits can increase the risk of development, for any given individual.

Addiction doesn’t discriminate, meaning that such behaviours can occur for any person, from any background, with the most random causation.

The commonality here is that drug addiction can manifest, can reside and can turn life-changing without acknowledgement, treatment and maintenance.


The Signs Of Drug Addiction

Signs and symptoms of addiction can vary to an extent that an independent diagnosis may be difficult to make. However, there are common changes across physical, psychological and behavioural areas that usually indicate that drug abuse is at least occurring.


  • Digestive issues
  • High/low blood pressure
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hangover related symptoms


  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Signs of anxiousness
  • Memory loss
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Rollercoaster-like mood swings


  • A lack of interest in hobbies, responsibilities and relationships
  • No get up and go
  • The desire to be alone
  • Reduced self-awareness and value
  • Money and legal worries

As some of the above symptoms and side effects can also resemble alternative conditions and changes, it’s encouraged to source a medical diagnosis, to either rule out or treat drug addiction.


Causations Of Drug Abuse

While similarities are tied to addicts, causations of drug abuse are usually diverse, standing as personal and sometimes unexplainable reactions.

While linked to the brain’s reward system, the cause of drug abuse is usually connected to a gap that needs filling, to emotional influences, or to vulnerabilities, requiring such escapism.

Causations of drug abuse can be linked to genetics, where predisposed vulnerabilities are present. Environments can trigger abuse through enablement through heightened stress and through toxic situations.

Pre-existing mental health issues are associated with the materialisation of addiction. Trauma, anxiety, distress and pressure are all emotions that fuel off the rewards of drug exposure. Social situations are also linked to heavy drug abuse, normalising such behaviour.

It’s clear to see how invasive and uncontrollable addiction as a condition can be, as it can develop from any circumstance, emotion or outlook.

However, generally, drugs and their benefits are seen at the moment, to improve quality of life. Yet through ongoing exposure and the development of addiction, naturally such quality will diminish.


Drugs That Are Commonly Abused

There is a wide range of drugs that carry addictive characteristics. While such traits are present, it’s however how users respond to such drugs which increase the definite risk of a drug dependency.

Drugs that are however used on a mass scale, which are connected to addiction diagnoses include:

  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Heroin
  • Cannabis
  • Meth
  • Antidepressants
  • Hallucinogenic
  • Ecstasy
  • Alcohol

The above drugs all influence different effects. However, each is toxic and damaging to health when aggressively abused. Some, such as prescription drugs are recommended and endorsed through dosage guidelines, to support wellbeing.

Yet, the misuse of all drugs poses risks to physical, psychological, behavioural and social factors, heavily linked to addiction.


Getting Help Through Addiction Treatment

No matter whether you’re abusing drugs or believe a loved one is displaying the signs of addiction, help is available.

The safest and most effective way to work through addiction will be to complete treatment, accept interventive support and work through residential drug rehab.

Treatment Options

Promoting withdrawal, psychological realignment, relapse prevention and lifestyle management, treatment is available to work through both the causation and consequence of addiction.

For those experiencing drug abuse, such structure may not be required, especially if exposure is irregular. However, the compulsiveness of addiction will require consistent and strong forms of treatment to unravel the dependence on drugs.

At Rehab Clinics Group, we’re here to encourage, care and motivate addiction recovery from our range of reputable rehab clinics. No matter who you are, no matter your background, and no matter your addiction type, we do not judge.

Accept support throughout your drug addiction, to understand, to work through and to prevent the life-limiting lifespan of addiction.


Drug Addictions We Treat

Our CQC registered facilities treat a number of drug addictions which includes:

Please click on any of the above links to find out more about how we treat each drug as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme.

  • When Should I Seek Help For Drug Addiction?

    The moment you believe you have an addiction is the moment you should look to seek help. If you have lost all control of your drug use or you are trying to quit but can't then you seek help.
  • Why Is Private Rehab A Good Option For Drug Addiction Treatment?

    Private rehab offers all the amenities that the NHS would offer for the same type of treatment expect with public healthcare you can be waiting for months to receive treatment. When dealing with an addiction the sooner you receive help the better and most private rehab centres including the ones available at Rehab Clinics Group can offer fast admission with same-day admissions available at some centres.
  • A Loved One Is Struggling With Drug Addiction, What Should I Do?

    We offer an intervention service which aims to help bring you and your loved one together to talk about the issues they're going through and how its affecting people around them. The hope is that by having this discussion they will be more accepting of their problem and are ready to seek help.
  • How Long Does A Typical Rehabilitation Programme Last?

    Different durations are offered depending on how long our admissions team believe you will need to get fully recovered. For the most part, we would recommend 28 days as it gives you enough time to go through a detox and have enough time to do therapy sessions and one-to-one counselling so you are fully ready to face the outside world when leaving the centre.
Picture of John Gillen

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: April 26, 2022

John Gillen is a leading addiction recovery expert with over 15 years of experience in his field. He also co-authored the best-selling book "The Secret Disease of Addiction".

Dr Alexander Lapa - Psychiatrist & Clinical Reviewer for Rehab Clinics Group

Dr Alexander Lapa - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: March 31, 2022

MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified

Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.

Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)

Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)

Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
– Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
– Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
– Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
– Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
– Aesthetic Practice and Procedures