Substance use is when you use a drug that changes the way you might think, feel and behave. Substance misuse is when you use these drugs excessively.

Young man in coffee shop with worker

Addiction is when you feel like you cannot go without using these drugs and have a dependency on them. 

  • Common addiction difficulties: Drugs (including alcohol), gambling, intimate relationships
  • Examples of legal drugs: Alcohol, tobacco, codeine, tramadol
  • Example Illegal drugs: Cocaine, cannabis, crack cocaine, heroin, ‘legal highs’.

People develop problems with addiction for different reasons, and people rarely know what they are getting themselves into. Addiction difficulties have a big impact on individuals and also the people around them. It can be very difficult for the person with the difficulties to realise their problem and accept support.

Drug and alcohol misuse

There may be lots of signs that someone has difficulties with addiction such as: sudden changes in behaviour or mood, becoming withdrawn from friends or family, deteriorating health, tendency to make excuses and serious life consequences (e.g. poor attendance, grades, job performance), financial problems or damaged relationships.

Top tips

  • Realise the problem: This is the hardest and most important part – acknowledging and accepting that you have a problem and need help is the first step. There is lots of support available for everyone.
  • Get help from a professional: Drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly difficult to deal with alone and withdrawal can sometimes be dangerous. We know that recovery involves support from others.
  • Use support network: Getting help to reduce or stop your substance misuse takes willpower; therefore you may need the support of those around you to encourage you to ‘stop using’. You may also need to introduce new things into your life and your support work.
  • Supporting someone with a problem: It can be really hard to know how to support someone we love and care for in these situations. Sometimes you may not know if what you are doing is helping or making things worse. It is important to get help and advice for yourself.

Top clips and stories

A simple animation illustrating addiction

Extra Information

Local services