Drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious issue. Most reputable medical institutions now consider addiction to be a disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse in America defines addiction as a chronic brain disorder, one that causes functional changes to the brain circuits involved in reward responses, stress responses, and self-control.1

It leads its sufferers to compulsively consume harmful substances, despite the many adverse and often dangerous consequences that substance abuse may bring. It is an illness that many people struggle with. According to a report by the government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, between April 2020 and March 2021 there were 275,896 adults in the UK who were in contact with drug and alcohol services.2

This is a staggering number, and it only includes those who have reached out for professional help. Including those who are struggling alone with addiction, the number is certain to be much, much higher.


How Can Drug and Alcohol Addiction Affect a Person?

The effects of drug and alcohol addiction are dangerous and insidious. Addiction literally rewires the brain, making sufferers physically and psychologically dependent on the substance they abuse. Addictive substances almost always affect the way that you feel, providing enjoyable feelings of pleasure or euphoria. When the substance inducing these pleasurable feelings is taken away, it can leave the addict feeling both physically and mentally unwell.

The persistent and heavy abuse of harmful substances like alcohol and drugs can cause serious harm. Alcohol abuse, for example, can significantly increase the risk of a myriad of different cancers, including liver cancer, mouth cancer, head and neck cancer, breast cancer, and bowel cancer.3 Stimulant drugs like cocaine or methamphetamines can cause serious cardiovascular issues, potentially leading to an acute medical emergency such as cardiac arrest.

Opioid drugs like heroine and morphine can slow the breathing to dangerously low levels, so that some users asphyxiate in their sleep. In 2021, the Office for National Statistics reported 3060 deaths in England and Wales that were directly caused by drug abuse. Approximately half (45.7%) of these deaths involved opiates, and 840 of them involved cocaine.4

To put it bluntly, if you have a problem with substance abuse and you leave it unaddressed, given enough time it is likely to kill you.


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Physical and Psychological Signs of Addiction

The warning signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol addiction can take many forms. To a large extent, the exact changes and withdrawal symptoms that you will experience will depend on the nature of the substance you are addicted to. The effects of an opiate addiction look different to the effects of an alcohol addiction. But, in general, these are some of the main warning signs to look out for if you are worried that you have developed an addiction problem:

Psychological symptoms

  • Increased agitation or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Changes to temper and increased aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Increased recklessness
  • Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
  • Intense cravings, regularly or constantly thinking ahead to your next drink or hit

Physical symptoms

  • Sleep problems, including both insomnia and hypersomnia
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Suffering health complications as a result of your drinking or drug use
  • Feeling ill or unwell if you haven’t had had any alcohol or drugs

The most telling sign that you are dependent on drugs or alcohol is if you suffer withdrawal when you stop drinking or taking drugs. If you find yourself regularly or constantly planning your next drink, your next hit, and if you feel physically unwell when you can’t get it, then it is likely that you have developed an addiction.


A Timeline of Residential Drug and Alcohol Rehab

The single most effective way to overcome an addiction and get clean is by going to a drug and alcohol rehab. Residential rehabilitation has many benefits. First of all, it is much easier and safer to go through the withdrawal period under medical supervision. Secondly, receiving inpatient care at a dedicated clinic means that you will be kept insulated from the things that usually trigger your substance abuse.

And finally, at alcohol and drug rehab, you will have the opportunity to undergo a comprehensive course of therapy and counselling to help you identify and address the root causes of your dependency issues. Rehabilitation makes recovery as safe as it can be, and also gives you the tools necessary to ensure that you can resist cravings and avoid relapse in the future.

The exact length of your stay at the clinic and the precise nature of your treatment programme will vary depending on the substance you are addicted to and the severity of your addiction. Some clients need more time, and more intensive treatment, than others. Typically, you can expect to spend around a month at the clinic. The first stage of treatment is a drug and alcohol detox. This is the period when your body processes and removes the drugs or alcohol from your system.

It is during alcohol and drug detox that you will feel the withdrawal symptoms. Again, the length of time you spend in detox will largely depend on the drug involved and the severity of your dependence on it, but on average the detox process lasts between six and eight days – around a week. The rest of your time at rehab will be dedicated to therapy, counselling, and educational workshops, as well, of course, as a great deal of deserved rest and recuperation.

The support does not end the moment you leave the clinic. Aftercare is an integral part of addiction treatment, and you will have continued access to advice and support once you have returned to your normal life.


Get Help Today

If you are ready to reach out for help and begin your recovery, contact Addiction Advocates today. We are a dedicated referral service who work closely with a network of excellent rehab clinics across the country. Contact our team, answer some preliminary questions, and we will ensure that we find a clinic and a course of treatment tailored to your needs.



  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/substance-misuse-treatment-for-adults-statistics-2020-to-2021/adult-substance-misuse-treatment-statistics-2020-to-2021-report
  3. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/risks/
  4. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsrelatedtodrugpoisoninginenglandandwales/2021registrations


Frequently Asked Questions

Do we support your mental health during your addiction treatment?
Yes, this is integral to your recovery. It’s so important to take care of your mental health, whether you’re suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs or not. Our team are highly trained and very motivated to helping you improve your mental health during your stay at our drug and alcohol rehab Ruislip. We’re also well prepared to support a dual diagnosis should you have one; this is when a person is suffering from poor mental health in addition to a drug or alcohol addiction.
What happens after an intervention?
After the addiction intervention, you must stick to everything promised. If the addict agrees to go to a treatment facility, you must provide all of the additional support promised during the intervention. If the person refuses to seek help for their addiction, you must adhere to all of the consequences set out during the intervention.
How do I pick the right rehabilitation programme? 
Your first question might be, ‘How do I find a rehab near me?’ but there are many factors to consider when choosing the best rehab for you, of which location is one. You might not be in the best place mentally to deal with these questions when in the grip of an addiction, but we can help guide you through the options and find the right rehab for your own personal circumstances.


  • [1] https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction - https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-misuse-addiction
  • [2] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/substance-misuse-treatment-for-adults-statistics-2020-to-2021/adult-substance-misuse-treatment-statistics-2020-to-2021-report - https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/substance-misuse-treatment-for-adults-statistics-2020-to-2021/adult-substance-misuse-treatment-statistics-2020-to-2021-report
  • [3] https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/risks/ - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alcohol-misuse/risks/
  • [4] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsrelatedtodrugpoisoninginenglandandwales/2021registrations - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsrelatedtodrugpoisoninginenglandandwales/2021registrations