top of page

Substance Abuse 

What is Substance abuse

he disease of addiction can occur after ingesting drugs or alcohol or engaging in activities that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain. It is exemplified by continued compulsive behavior that compromises a person’s health, career and relationships.

The brain of an addict physically changes when he or she continues the behavior driving their addiction, especially when the addiction involves drugs or alcohol. However, any stimulating behavior can cause changes that lead to addiction.


Talking therapies

Talking therapies, such as CBT, help you to see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour.

Treatment with medicines

If you're dependent on heroin or another opioid, 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 opioids like heroin completely. It helps you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.


Some people find support groups like Narcotics Anonymous helpful. Your keyworker can tell you where your nearest group is.

Reducing harm

Staff at your local drug service will help reduce the risks associated with your drug-taking. For example, you may be offered testing and treatment for hepatitis or HIV.

Find out More: 

NHS Live Well
Advice, tips and tools to help with health and wellbeing.

Beating Addictions
Information about a range of addictive behaviours and treatments.

Sources of support

Supports people with drug, alcohol or mental health problems, and their friends and family.

Information and support for friends and family of people with drug or alcohol problems.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

0800 9177 650
Help and support for anyone with alcohol problems.

The Alliance
User-led organisation that provides information and advocacy for people accessing treatment for drug and alcohol problems.


0300 123 6600
Confidential advice and information about drugs, their effects and the law.

Gamblers Anonymous
Support groups for anyone wanting to stop gambling.


0808 8020 133
Information and support for people wanting to stop gambling, including a helpline and online forum.

National Association for Children of Alcoholics

0800 358 3456
Provides information, advice and support for everyone affected by a parent's drinking, including adults.

National Problem Gambling Clinic
Treats problem gamblers living in England and Wales aged 16 and over.

Narcotics Anonymous

0300 999 1212
Support for anyone who wants to stop using drugs.


020 7324 2989
National charity that gives free and confidential advice about drugs and the law.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

020 7293 0994
Support groups for people with sex and love addictions.

NHS Smokefree
NHS information and advice to help stop smoking.

Turning Point
Provides health and social care services for people with drug, alcohol and mental health problems.

Find out More: 
Signs & Symptoms 
  • Changes in personality and behavior like a lack of motivation, irritability, and agitation

  • Bloodshot eyes and frequent bloody noses

  • Shakes, tremors, or slurred speech

  • Change in their daily routines

  • Lack of concern for personal hygiene

  • Unusual need for money; financial problems

  • Changes in friends and activities

While these emotional factors may contribute to a gambling addiction, the following may be more visible signs of a gambling problem in either yourself or someone that you care about:

  • A preoccupation with gambling and loss of interest in other aspects of life, such as ignoring family responsibilities and focusing only on the results of gambling

  • Loss of control and being unable to manage impulsive urges to gamble even when the odds are against you

  • Increasing the amount of money used to gamble in order to pay for lost bets or to experience the thrill

  • A negative impact upon relationships with those closest to you. Losing a partner as a result of a gambling addiction is very common due to the strains and burdens that problem gambling places on a relationship

  • Problems within the workplace which could include an increased workload, absence from work or general lack of concentration which makes it difficult to complete tasks sufficiently

  • Concealing the amount of money and time spent betting from family members. The secrecy that is often involved in problem gambling leads to a lack of trust and often further problems at home

  • Denial that you have a problem with gambling is a great concern as the first step to recovery is accepting that you have a problem

Self - Help 
  • Try a book or online course

  • Exercise regularly

  • Learn to relax

  • Avoid caffeine

  • Avoid smoking and drinking

Support Groups 

Support groups can give you advice on how to manage your anxiety.

They're also a good way to meet other people with similar experiences.

Examples of support groups you may find useful include:

Support groups can often arrange face-to-face meetings, where you can talk about your difficulties and problems with other people.

Many support groups also provide support and guidance over the phone or in writing.

Ask your GP about local support groups for anxiety in your area, or search online for mental health information and support services near you.

Emergency Action plan:

If you suspect that someone has taken an overdose or has been poisoned, don't try to treat them yourself. Get medical help immediately.

If they don't appear to be seriously ill, call NHS 111 for advice.

If they're showing signs of being seriously ill, such as vomiting, loss of consciousness, drowsiness or seizures (fits), call 999 to request an ambulance or take the person to your local A&E department.

In serious cases, it may be necessary for the person to stay in hospital for treatment. Most people admitted to hospital because of poisoning will survive.

Read more about what to do if you think someone has been poisoned.

Types of poisons

Poisons can be swallowed, absorbed through the skin, injected, inhaled or splashed into the eyes.

A medication overdose is the most common form of poisoning in the UK. This can include both over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, and prescription medications, such as antidepressants.

Other potential poisons include:

  • household products, such as bleach

  • cosmetic items, such as nail polish

  • some types of plants and fungi

  • certain types of household chemicals and pesticides

  • carbon monoxide

  • poorly prepared or cooked food, and food that's gone mouldy or been contaminated with bacteria from raw meat (food poisoning)

  • alcohol, if an excessive amount is consumed over a short period of time (alcohol poisoning)

  • recreational drugs or substances

  • medicines prescribed for pets

Snakes and insects, such as wasps and bees, aren't poisonous, but their bites or stings can contain venom (toxin).

Read more about the causes of poisoning.

Download Area 
bottom of page