Addiction is an illness affecting many people all over the UK. It is not something that just affects those with no willpower, despite what you may have been told. Sadly, addiction still has a certain amount of stigma attached to it and those affected often do not get the help they need until it is too late. This is either because they are embarrassed or else ashamed. Many are too worried about what others will think and would rather deny they have a problem than seek the help that could, potentially, save their lives.

It is important to realise that addiction is an illness that will continue to get worse if left untreated. It is a progressive illness that develops over time. It will not simply go away by itself. In most cases, those affected need help to get better.

How Addiction Develops

Those with no experience of addiction are often of the opinion that being addicted is a choice – they believe that the person chose to take drugs or drink alcohol in the first place and, while for the most part this is true, these individuals did not choose to become addicted. Not everyone who takes drugs or drinks alcohol will become addicted. Some people can continue to drink sensibly or take drugs recreationally without ever becoming dependent.

Nevertheless, for some of those that continue to abuse these chemical substances, addiction is inevitable. The way the person’s brain functions changes and his or her ability to make good choices is affected. The individual become tolerant to the effects of the drugs or alcohol and will find that more and more of it is needed to experience the same effects as before. When this happens, the affected person will actively seek out drugs or alcohol, even if doing so could have a negative impact on his or her life. At this point, addiction occurs and the person has no control over their urges. Even if they do not want to drink or take drugs, they simply cannot stop.

Do You Need Help?

It is impossible to diagnose someone with addiction or alcoholism by carrying out a blood test or routine exam. There may be some tell-tale signs, such as damage to the liver, but the only way to tell if someone have a problem is for them to take a long hard look at their life and behaviour. If you are such an individual and your loved ones have been expressing concerns, your first reaction may have been to get defensive or angry with them for suggesting such a thing, but if they have noticed that you may have a problem, then your situation might be worse than you think. Ask yourself the following questions and if you answer yes to two or three of them, then you could have a problem. If you answer yes to more than this, it is time to seek help immediately.

  • Have you been drunk at least four times in the past six months?
  • Do you often drink more than you planned to or for a longer period?
  • Have you taken illegal drugs in the past six months?
  • Do you regularly take prescription medication that has not been prescribed for you?
  • Have you bought medication online when your prescription ran out?
  • Have you driven your car or gone to work after drinking or taking drugs?
  • Do you often wake up with no recollection of the night before?
  • Do you regret things you do while under the influence?
  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed about your drug use or drinking?
  • Have you tried to quit but been unable to?
  • Do you need more alcohol or drugs to experience the same effects as before?
  • Do you neglect other responsibilities in favour of drugs or alcohol?

Being honest when answering the above questions will give you an insight into your behaviour and will help you to decide if you need help for addiction.