Substance use is when you use a drug that changes the way you think, feel or 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. Addiction difficulties have a big impact on individuals and also the people around them.

You can develop an addiction to a legal drug, such as alcohol, tobacco, codeine or tramadol, or an illegal drug, like cocaine, cannabis, crack cocaine, heroin, 

People develop addiction problems for different reasons, rarely knowing what they are getting themselves into.  It can be very difficult for the person with the difficulties to realise their problem and accept support.

Signs of drug and alcohol misuse

There are many signs that someone may have difficulties with addiction. Possible signs include:

  • Sudden changes in behaviour or mood
  • Becoming withdrawn from friends or family
  • Deteriorating health
  • A tendency to make excuses and serious life consequences (eg poor attendance, grades, job performance)
  • Financial problems
  • 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 you.
  • Get help from a professional: Drug and alcohol addiction is incredibly difficult to deal with alone and withdrawal can be dangerous. We know that recovery involves support from others.
  • Use your support network: Getting help to reduce or stop your substance misuse takes willpower. You might need the support of those around you to encourage you to ‘stop using’.
  • 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