Drug abuse

What is it?

Substance misuse harms a person's health. Dependence occurs when there is physical and/or psychological addiction and the person will have withdrawal symptoms if they do not use the substance. Their lives are dominated by getting and using the substance. People use many sorts of substances. These can be legal (alcohol, tobacco, and solvents) or illegal (cannabis, heroin and cocaine). Some prescribed drugs are addictive (eg diazepam).

How do we know it's happening?

A friend or carer may notice that the person is:

  • More concerned with getting their substance than dealing with other things
  • Angry if asked about their substance use
  • Secretive and evasive
  • Appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of something
  • Tired, irritable and looks less well
  • Less interested in every day things
  • Unable to say no and has a strong desire for the substance
  • Using more and more of the substance to get the same effect
  • Involved in criminal activity.

What we offer

We will talk to the person about their substance use, looking for signs of withdrawal, examining the person and asking them to perform certain tests. These can include urine-screening tests for drugs and, in the case of alcohol abuse, liver function tests.

The goal of treatment ranges from controlling consumption, to detox and giving up drinking or drugs completely. Psychological treatments are common for all forms of substance misuse. For opiate (drug) addiction, methadone and buprenorphine treatment is undertaken. Medication is also available for both drug and alcohol addiction to help prevent relapse.


Those with concerns should firstly speak to their GP or use any of the direct help services available for people worried about their use of alcohol or other substances.

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