Life Skills Programme – Drugs & Alcohol
Drug Abuse Facts – Types of drugs involved
Most people think about heroin, cocaine or cannabis when they hear the word drugs, but other substances come under the heading of drugs.
Over-the-counter medication – There are some substances that can be purchased by individuals over the age of sixteen that can be classed as drugs. Although these medications are considered to be safe enough to sell without a prescription, they can be dangerous when misused. Taking large doses of medication such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems.
Prescription medication – Strong painkillers are only available with a prescription because they are considered to be extremely dangerous when abused. Some of these medications can cause addiction when taken over an extended period of time.
New psychoactive substances – Until May 2016, new psychoactive substances were legally available online and in head shops, and they were often referred to as ‘legal highs’. These manufactured substances were sold as incense, plant food or bath salts and were marked as ‘not fit for human consumption’. They are designed to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs such as ecstasy and cannabis. However, they are extremely dangerous and have been linked to many serious health issues, and even death.
Illegal drugs – As mentioned above, most people think of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and cannabis when they hear about drug abuse and addiction. And they would be right because, for the most part, these are the most prevalent hard drugs in the world today. These illegal drugs can lead to many problems, not least of which is addiction. There are also many other illegal drugs that cause destruction and devastation to the lives of those affected including crystal meth, mephedrone, and ecstasy.
Drug Abuse and the Law
When it comes to illegal drugs, there are harsh penalties for those who are found in possession. Class A drugs are illegal to have, give away or sell to another person. Those who are found in possession of a Class A drug such as heroin, even if it is for personal use, could face up to seven years in prison plus an unlimited fine. Supplying a Class A drug could mean a life sentence plus an unlimited fine.
Possession of a Class B drug such as cannabis could mean five years behind bars. Supplying the drug to another person (this includes giving it to a friend) could mean fourteen years in prison and an unlimited fine.
Class C drugs are prescription medications such as anabolic steroids or benzodiazepines. These are only available from a pharmacy with a prescription from a doctor. While it is legal to possess Class C drugs for personal use, it is illegal to import these drugs unless it is carried out in person. Those found in possession of Class C drugs with the intent to supply could face up to fourteen years in jail and an unlimited fine.
Drug Abuse and Young People
Below are a number of statistics from Public Health England relating to drug abuse and young people:
The number of young people attending substance misuse services decreased in 2014/2015 by 777.
The most commonly used drug among young people is cannabis. Of those attending specialist substance misuse services, 86% admitted to having a problem with cannabis.
Young people were also receiving treatment for substance misuse of other drugs including ecstasy (7%), amphetamines (9%), cocaine (8%), and new psychoactive substances (5%).
29% of young people receiving help for drug abuse were referred from youth justice services and 26% were referred from education provision. A further 12% were referred from social care. Referrals from the justice system have decreased, but there has been an increase in the number of referrals from education services.
Adults Drug Abuse Facts
The age of adults receiving help for drug abuse is increasing; 44% of those receiving help for opiate abuse are aged 40 and over. This is an increase of 21% since 2009/2010.
52% of adults aged 18 to 24 receiving drug treatment in 2014/2015 had problems with cannabis, and 23% had problems with cocaine.
73% of those receiving treatment for drug abuse in 2014/2015 were male.
Drug Abuse and the Economy
Drug abuse has a detrimental effect on the individual and those closest to him or her. Nonetheless, it also has an adverse impact on the wider community and the economy. Those who are affected by drug addiction may suffer from a variety of health problems, which automatically places a burden on the National Health Service.
Nevertheless, it is not just the health service that is affected by drug abuse and addiction. The police service and the criminal justice system are also affected when drug-related crimes are committed. These can include violence, abuse, theft, and fraud.
The cost of prosecuting those who commit drug-related crimes can be extremely high, and this, therefore, affects every single taxpayer in the country.
Drug Abuse Treatment
The good news regarding drug abuse is that there are many treatment options available to those who want help.
As well as NHS-funded programmes, there are many private residential and outpatient clinics providing superb care and support to those affected by drug addiction. In addition, there are charities and local support groups that work tirelessly to make sure that those who need help can access it. For more information, visit Recovery.org.uk.
What is alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is a disease that affects people of all walks of life. Experts have tried to pinpoint factors like genetics, sex, race, or socioeconomics that may predispose someone to alcohol addiction. But it has no single cause. Psychological, genetic, and behavioural factors can all contribute to having the disease.
It’s important to note that alcoholism is a real disease. It can cause changes to the brain and neurochemistry, so a person with an alcohol addiction may not be able to control their actions.
Alcohol addiction can show itself in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease, how often someone drinks, and the alcohol they consume varies from person to person. Some people drink heavily all day, while others binge drink and then stay sober for a while.
Regardless of how the addiction looks, someone typically has an alcohol addiction if they heavily rely on drinking and can’t stay sober for an extended period of time.
What are the symptoms of alcoholism?
Alcohol addiction can be difficult to recognize. Unlike cocaine or heroin, alcohol is widely available and accepted in many cultures. It’s often at the centre of social situations and closely linked to celebrations and enjoyment.
Drinking is a part of life for many people. When is it common in society, it can be hard to tell the difference between someone who likes to have a few drinks now and then and someone with a real problem.
Some symptoms of alcohol addiction are:
- increased quantity or frequency of use
- high tolerance for alcohol, or lack of “hangover” symptoms
- drinking at inappropriate times, such as first thing in the morning, or in places like church or work
- wanting to be where alcohol is present and avoiding situations where there is none
- changes in friendships; someone with an alcohol addiction may choose friends who also drink heavily
- avoiding contact with loved ones
- hiding alcohol, or hiding while drinking
- dependence on alcohol to function in everyday life
- increased lethargy, depression, or other emotional issues
- legal or professional problems such as an arrest or loss of a job
As an addiction tends to get worse over time, it’s important to look for early warning signs. If identified and treated early, someone with an alcohol addiction may be able to avoid major consequences of the disease.
If you’re worried that someone you know has an alcohol addiction, it’s best to approach them in a supportive way. Avoid shaming them or making them feel guilty. This could push them away and make them more resistant to your help.
What health complications are associated with alcoholism?
Alcohol addiction can result in heart disease and liver disease. Both can be fatal. Alcoholism can also cause:
- diabetes complications
- sexual problems
- birth defects
- bone loss
- vision problems
- increased risk of cancer
- suppressed immune function
- If someone with an alcohol addiction takes dangerous risks while drinking, they can also put others at risk. Drinking is also associated with an increased incidence of suicide.
These complications are reasons why it’s important to treat alcohol addiction early. Nearly all risks involved with alcohol addiction may be avoidable or treatable, with successful long-term recovery.
What are treatment options for alcoholism?
Treating alcohol addiction can be complex and challenging. In order for treatment to work, the person with an alcohol addiction must want to get sober. You can’t force them to stop drinking if they aren’t ready. Success depends on the person’s desire to get better. The recovery process for alcoholism is a lifetime commitment. There isn’t a quick fix and it involves daily care. For this reason, many people say alcohol addiction is never “cured.”
A common initial treatment option for someone with an alcohol addiction is an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation program. An inpatient program can last anywhere from 30 days to a year. It can help someone handle withdrawal symptoms and emotional challenges. Outpatient treatment provides daily support while allowing the person to live at home.
Alcoholics anonymous and other support groups
Many people addicted to alcohol also turn to 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). There are also other support groups that don’t follow the 12-step model, such as SMART Recovery and Sober Recovery.
Regardless of the type of support system, it’s helpful to get involved in at least one when getting sober. Sober communities can help someone struggling with alcohol addiction deal with the challenges of sobriety in day-to-day life. Sober communities can also share relatable experiences and offer new, healthy friendships. And these communities make the person with an alcohol addiction accountable and provide a place to turn to if there is a relapse.
Someone with an alcohol addiction may also benefit from other treatments including:
- drug therapy
- nutritional changes
A doctor may prescribe drugs to help certain conditions. For example, antidepressants, if someone with an alcohol addiction were self-medicating to treat their depression. Or a doctor could prescribe drugs to assist with other emotions common in recovery.
Therapy is useful to help teach someone how to manage the stress of recovery and the skills needed to prevent a relapse. Also, a healthy diet can help undo damage alcohol may have done to the person’s health, like weight gain or loss. Alcohol addiction may involve several different treatment methods. It’s important that each person get involved in a recovery program that will support long-term sobriety. This could mean an emphasis on therapy for someone who is depressed, or inpatient treatment for someone with severe withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction in the UK: The Substance Abuse Capital of Europe
In 2013, the Centre for Social Justice determined that the level of addiction in the UK made it the “addiction capital of Europe.” This includes the use of legal substances, mainly alcohol, and the use of Class A drugs, that include heroin, cocaine, meth, and hallucinogens. £36 billion is spent by the nation every year on treatment relating to drug and alcohol abuse. At the time of filing their report, titled No Quick Fix, the UK had the highest rate of addiction to opioids and the highest lifetime-use of amphetamines, cocaine, and ecstasy across Europe.
Many view addiction as something that only affects the users themselves but, in reality, casualties from substance abuse are taxing on entire communities and society as a whole. Addiction in the UK affects everyone from loved ones to hospital workers, and even tax payers.
- Druglink – drug scene timeline 1960-1994 (1,369KB, PDF)
Alcoholism in the UK
Despite it being legal, alcohol abuse and addiction in the UK is one of the greatest substance abuse issues faced by the country. 2015 saw over 8,000 casualties from drunk driving, including 220 fatalities. Of the estimated 595,131 people suffering from alcoholism in the UK less than one-fifth receive help. Of that one-fifth, 4-out-of-10 were unable to complete their recovery program.
Hundreds of thousands of people suffering from alcoholism in the UK, and becoming a hazard to others, is not an insignificant issue. No doubt, many think that something like this won’t happen to them. This thinking, however, is influenced by alcohol and the stigma that comes with dependency. In reality, alcohol is a highly addictive mind-impairing substance.
Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction in the UK
Many fear that their friends and family may be abusing or addicted to illicit drugs, like heroin, cocaine, or marijuana. However, prescription drugs are actually more frequently abused in the UK. Prescription opioids and benzodiazepines, in particular, are frequently abused and highly highly addictive. In many cases, individuals will develop an addiction when they are prescribed these medication for pain or mental health conditions.
Opioid Addiction in the UK
Prescription opioid abuse and addiction have climbed over the years across the Western world. Tramadol in particular has been so frequently prescribed that it is a common addiction in the UK. The drug has been tied to a rising number of deaths in England, 240 deaths in 2014, and is responsible for 40% of drug-related deaths in Northern Ireland, up from 9% in 2011.
Tramadol was the most prescribed opioid in England, despite the death count, over a course of 43 months from 2011 to 2014. It doesn’t carry the stigma of more powerful opioids like morphine, but it is still a great deal stronger than over-the-counter pain relief. The addictiveness of Tramadol makes it hard to realize a dependency is forming. Any long-term use of Tramadol, even when taken as prescribed, can lead to building a dependency and eventually an addiction.
Benzodiazepine Addiction in the UK
Prescription benzodiazepines, or benzos, are often prescribed to help with anxiety and seizures. The most popular benzodiazepine in the UK, and much of the world, is Xanax. The UK’s population is about a fifth that of the US; however, its market for untraceable online sales of Xanax is almost half the amount sold in a similar fashion in the US. Xanax accounted for 50,000 trades on one of the largest dark web marketplaces. One “trade” can include thousands of pills. These numbers also don’t account for the number of people who are procuring the drug legally, with a prescription, then selling it to others looking to abuse it.
Benzo addiction in the UK often starts as a prescription. A doctor will prescribe a benzo, usually for no longer than 10 days, to help suppress anxiety or symptoms of seizures and panic disorders. The danger lies in how potent benzos are, as even taking the drug as directed can lead to a dependency. Eventually, once the prescription ends, many are pushed to continue using because they’ve developed an addiction.
- 220 people died in the UK, in 2015, because of a drunk driver.
- In 2017, there were 14,053 hospital admissions, across England, tied to illicit drug use.
- There were 2,593 deaths in 2016, across England and Wales, due to drug use.
Illicit Drug Addiction in the UK
While many have developed an addiction in the UK to legal drugs, illicit drug use is also on the rise. Cannabis, the most abused substance after alcohol, is used by more than two million people. Cocaine, despite being used by less than a million users, is becoming more accessible, making abuse and addiction more commonplace. Meanwhile, without enough resources, rehabilitation clinics can become overstretched, overused, and unable to help everyone who comes through.
Treatment for Addiction in the UK
Many don’t realize the importance of finding the right rehab center when they are trying to recover. Going to a clinic that isn’t the right fit can mean setting yourself up for relapse. However, you may not know what to look for. Maybe it is right down the street, or maybe it isn’t even close. If you are suffering from addiction in the UK, and need help figuring out your next steps, try reaching out to a dedicated treatment provider. They’re here for you, no matter where you are.
Feel free to watch the following videos on alcohol and drug abuse, addiction and how you can detect someone who has problems with drinking or drugs.
- Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism – How to Know if Someone Has a Problem with Drinking
- ‘If you have one more drink, you will die’: Battling booze addiction in Australia
- What happens if You are An Alcohol and Tobacco Addict? – Effects on Brain and Body
- How Addiction Affects The Brain
- Coronavirus drug abuse: A pandemic within a pandemic? | COVID-19 Special
- Top 10 Shocking Before And After Drug Use Photos