How To Appreciate The Little Things In Addiction And Recovery


Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily.

Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff.

We’re pretty focused on the major things – doing all we can to stay clean and sober, learning to live a happy and functional life and beginning to work on repairing damaged relationships (including your relationship with yourself).

So many reparations and “firsts” may make early recovery seem overwhelming and when you feel overwhelmed, you are less likely to stop and bask in gratitude. “What do I have to be grateful for,” you might think to yourself any of the following, which I’m sure many of you will be able to recognise in your own life too:

  • I screwed my entire life up
  • I live in a halfway house, on the street or in my car or vehicle
  • I don’t have a car
  • My parents, family members and friends won’t forgive me
  • I ruined my opportunities for education or training
  • I lost a good job or my dream job
  • My friends all hate me or I have no friends outside of those who also use or drink
  • I can’t even afford to eat, pay bills or live comfortably
  • My physical and mental health has suffered as a result of my addiction
  • My appearance or level of personal hygiene is bad
  • I’m not worth the effort to change
  • And the list goes on…

It can be easy to focus on the negative, but doing so certainly won’t help you to progress in your recovery!


What Can You Do To Ensure That You’re Staying Grateful?

One of the most important aspects of staying grateful is remembering that you are not alone and developing your own families for addiction recovery. Seeking forgiveness from your family of origin is a necessary and important part of recovery, but it’s also important to understand that forgiveness will happen on their time frame – not yours and trying to force forgiveness will only serve to damage the relationship in question further rather than repair it.

Creating your new “family”

In most cases, these “families” will consist of different groups of friends, mostly friends you’ve met in 12-step meetings, those you meet in rehab or detox or other recovery therapy organisations.

They will support you through the hard times and celebrate with you during the good times. When you feel down, focus on a specific friend that you’ve made, and all of the positive qualities they bring to the table. Remind yourself that you bring positive qualities to the table too – and that now you finally have the capacity to be a good, lifelong friend.

Additionally, your family of origin might not understand addiction and recovery as authentically and thoroughly as someone who is or has lived it would. For these two reasons, it’s essential that you create your own community of friends that come from a similar situation to your own who are also in addiction recovery.

It’s the Small Stuff

In your recovery support groups, you will probably be introduced to mindfulness techniques or exercises. Essentially, mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery or other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

It has to do with focusing on the present moment and accepting all of the thoughts, feelings and sensations that you experience where you are, when you are. This practice helps with gratitude a huge amount – if you’re living in the present moment, you aren’t dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

Gratitude lists

You aren’t depressed (living in the past) or afraid (living in the future). You will be able to look around you and find at least one thing to appreciate. Many individuals who are new to recovery and even those who’ve been in recovery for a long time will practice writing down gratitude lists in the morning or in the evening, reminding them of the good things they’ve got going for them.

You can write your own gratitude list in your head, phone, in a diary or journal or anywhere else, at any point in time. Take a look at your surroundings or examine how you’re feeling physically, emotionally or mentally.

Do you feel happy? Did you feel happy at all during the day? How do you feel physically? Are you withdrawing? Do you have all of your limbs? Can you see? Can you smell? Are you living in a dumpster? If you boil it down to where you used to be and where you are now, you’ll likely find that you have a ton to be grateful for. “I’m grateful that I have good days now – I used to just have bad days. I’m grateful that I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I’m grateful that I’m clean and/or sober and that I can experience things – the good and the bad – the way they’re meant to be experienced.”

Day to Day Activities in Recovery 

In order to stay grateful for the little things, it’s a good idea to develop a somewhat structured day-to-day routine. This routine could look like hitting a different meeting every day and exercising for 30 minutes or waking up, reading a daily reflection or a “just for today” reading from fellowship organisations such as NA, AA, CA, Alanon, Naranon and others. These change daily and there is one for every day of the year. Even simple things like drinking a cup of coffee is something you can be grateful for.


Creating A Daily Recovery Plan

Not to be confused with a relapse prevention plan, this guide will help you plan your daily life in recovery to maximise everyday life and the opportunities that arise within. They also help you to avoid triggers and reminds you what you need to do should you experience a craving or temptation to use or drink to avoid relapsing.

We’ve created a comprehensive guide to creating and implementing a daily recovery plan along with downloadable templates by clicking here.

As you discover more about yourself, you’ll figure out which routine works best for you. In the meantime, we’ve gathered several helpful hints that might inspire you to shape your own daily routine!


  • Try and incorporate yoga or relaxation into your routine

It has been proven that a daily (or near daily) yoga therapy or meditation style practices are extremely beneficial for those in recovery. Not only does practicing yoga help with mindfulness and living in the present moment, but it has been shown to promote better self-awareness, improve sleep and bolster self-esteem. Many yoga studios will offer “recovery classes”, which are specifically designed for those that are healing from a substance abuse disorder.

You can also contact your nearest community drug and alcohol service for listing in your local area to find out more. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here. You can also do a search engine search if you live in a different country or area where you don’t have a drug and alcohol service near you.

  • Find an inspirational daily reader

There are many daily readers geared towards those in addiction recovery, though you can also find one geared towards anything that you are experiencing (for example, overcoming grief, recovery from eating disorders, overcoming trauma and others). Find a reader that speaks to you and start every morning off with a quick read and reflection.

  • Work with your sponsor (if you have one) at least once a week

Your sponsor will take you through the 12 steps of whichever program you choose (if you choose to use fellowship style meetings and resources such as NA, AA, CA ect) and will offer you advice and insight when you need someone to talk to.

In most cases, your sponsor will leave it up to you to decide when to meet as you’ve got to be the one to put in the necessary effort into your recovery! Make sure that you’re meeting up with your sponsor at least once a week and ideally more whilst you start working on your stepwork in between meetings.

  • Incorporate meditation and prayer into your daily routine

Prayer is a big part of recovery – not religious prayer, but prayer that will help you to bolster a relationship with a higher power (if you have one). It’s said that prayer is talking to your higher power and meditation is listening. Even if you only meditate for three minutes a day, incorporate both into your daily routine.

  • Find a clean/sober activity that you enjoy and dedicate some time to that every week or every day

One of the most beautiful parts of sobriety or abstinence is the opportunity to explore new activities and figure out what it is that you enjoy! Take a dance class, paint, draw, run, go for bike rides, try scuba diving, fix up a car, attend a short course in a topic of interest at your local college or school, try paddle boarding or learn to paraglide, the list is endless! Try as many things as you can and make what you like doing part of your daily life and routine.

  • Volunteer on a regular basis

One of the best ways to stay grateful and get away from isolation where your thoughts may attempt to get the better of you to use or drink again is to volunteer.

Work at a soup kitchen for those who are homeless or sleeping rough, volunteer in a charity shop once a week or find a local animal shelter. If you have valuable skills that may benefit others, offer to “donate” those skills to help others. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, why not ask if a local homeless shelter needs new posters to receive food and clothing donations or any other skills you may have. There are endless volunteer opportunities and not only does volunteering help you to appreciate all that you have, it works to even further bolster self-esteem.

Staying grateful in very early recovery may seem difficult, seeing as you’re trying to navigate the world around you through entirely new eyes (so to speak). It’s important that you practice showing appreciation for the little things as it will help you stay grateful, and after awhile it will become second nature. For many years or even decades in some cases, we’ve lived with our heads telling us to do silly things in order to drink or use, it’s now time to change that to more positive outlets.


80 Little Things You Can Do To Become More Grateful & Appreciate The Little Things

We present for you a list of 80 small things which are sure to make you feel that little bit happier. We guarantee your mood will lift when you…

1 … enjoy a walk in the sunshine

2 … take a picture of a rainbow

3 … watch the sun set

4 … have breakfast in bed

5 … laugh until your stomach hurts

6 … take an hour to study something

7 … smell your favourite perfume

8 … pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink

9 … have lunch on a park bench

10 … listen to the sound of the ocean

11 … wake up after a good night’s sleep

23 … receive a positive social media comment

24 … try tasty new food

25 … a stranger helps you out

26 … take a moment by yourself

27 … find some coins in your jeans pocket.

28 … put on a pair of fresh, laundry-scented socks

29 … do a small good deed

30 … book a holiday

31 … receive a compliment

32 … get everything on your shopping list

33 … eat that piece of chocolate cake

34 … look through some of your old photos

35 … find a parking space in a crowded car-park

36 … sit down with a cup of hot tea

37 … meet an old friend

38 … cook a delicious pie

39 … avoid a traffic jam

40 … smile at a joke on the internet

52 … fix that squeaky door

53 … get a postcard in the post

54 … breathe in the fresh air after a downpour

55 … listen to your favourite song

56 … bake some buns

57 … complete a crossword

58 … smell bacon cooking on the barbecue

59 … notice the first apple tree blossoms of the season

60 … order something for yourself online

61 … call up an elderly neighbour or relative

62 … enjoy an ice-cream cone on a sunny day

63 … eat a hot bowl of soup on a cold day

64 … walk past a bakery and the smell the newly baked bread

65 … re-visit an old hobby

66 … go for a walk in the park

67 … help a friend with a problem

68 … give someone a nice surprise

69 … receive a nice surprise from someone else!

70 … watch an old movie you haven’t seen in years

71 … receive a nice message from someone you haven’t heard from in years

72 … finally do something you’ve been postponing for too long

73 … come back from the gym feeling great

74 … make a new friend

75 … play with your cat or dog

76 … watch a funny video online

77 … finally get rid of something that’s been annoying you

78 … find something after giving up looking for it

79 … learn a new word in a foreign language

80 … tell somebody that you love them

You don’t have to be a world champion, a millionaire, or a Nobel Prize winner to enjoy life and learn to appreciate the small details. Lifelong happiness can be found in the simplest things that are here for you every single day. As the old known saying goes: ‘the best things in life are free’.

Are there any special moments which we’ve left off our list? Drop us a line and tell us about your magic everyday moments.


Where Can I Find More Help?

You can find a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you overcome your addictions. You can find their contact information on our help and support page here. You can also consider a variety of therapies which can benefit your addiction and recovery. You can learn more about this here.


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Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – Seeing Your Addiction And Recovery Journey From A Different Perspective


Our journey from recreational use or drinking, into addiction and finally moving into recovery can be compared to a waterfall, the little trickle of water continues to grow into a larger, faster, more forceful way, and as it begins to build and build, slowly picking up pace towards a rocky, uneven edge.

Often, it isn’t until we get to this point that we begin to see that our prior actions were leading to the place we currently find ourselves in. Yet we still continue to use or drink, continuing our old behaviours and actions until we finally fall of the cliff face into a raging waterfall. We then frantically begin to reach out for anything we can hold onto, yet we still continue downward.

Eventually, our life comes crashing down around us, bumping into rocks and jagged edges and debris. We finally surface, gasping for breath, grabbing into whatever we can to stay afloat.

Once we finally take hold of firm, stable objects to grasp onto, it allows us to gently float towards the bank where we can finally move onto firm, stable ground, free of the unstable dangers we previously experienced along the course of the river.


An Exercise In Self Reflection

We’ve explored this metaphor with addicts and their families, and it has produced some interesting “aha” moments. But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself.

Take a few moments to think about your addiction.

What words and/or images come to mind?

Stop right here. Don’t read any further.

And Pause!…

What comes up for you? Make a note (or two). Write it down.

Now, take another moment to consider “intervention.”

Repeat the process above.

Do the same with “treatment.”

Then “recovery.”

What came up? Were the words and images positive or negative? How would it feel if those words and images were directed at you? Did anything shift as you considered different aspects of the recovery process?

Spend a little time with these questions. How do your answers make you feel? Many of us notice there are a lot of negative feelings that come up when we consider addiction. Maybe you conjured up images of lying, stealing, feeling out of control, dirty needles, overdosing, ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, friends who’ve died, betraying family and friends. It can be hard to feel compassion for ourselves or anyone else in active
addiction.

But what if we thought of addiction and recovery like a river?

Take a few moments to imagine this river. What direction does it flow? How fast is it going? What’s in it? What’s on the shore or riverbank? What else do you notice?

Take it a step further. Get some paper and a pen and draw everything you just imagined. How does each feature of your river represent some aspect of addiction or recovery? Label your drawing if you like.

How do you feel about addiction now? Has anything shifted?


The River At Drink ‘n’ Drugs

When we’ve gone through this exercise at Drink ‘n’ Drugs, our drawings have included rushing rapids to symbolise active addiction, waterfalls that plummet people into treatment, rocks that represent triggers and challenges, people drowning in addiction, bridges that lead to recovery, counsellors throwing ropes and pulling people to safety and many variations on these and other themes.


The “Aha” Moment!

The “aha’s” come when we realise that we don’t tend to blame people for drowning or for just treading water. We understand that sometimes people jump in over their heads, get caught in the current or get swept away by forces stronger than themselves.

If we find ourselves in this swiftly moving river, we recognise that we need more than human willpower to get back out. Much more. This is where we can find some compassion, which can be a life raft we offer to ourselves and others who are in recovery.

Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease and its rapids are fast and deep. Some of us dive in and never make it back to the surface. Others fight the current for many years. Most of us need help to make our way to shore and keep from falling in again. It takes a lot of practice to become a strong swimmer.


Why It Matters

So why does it matter if we talk about addicts or rivers? Or people getting lost in the rapids?

It matters because we are in the midst of a national and international epidemic.

We’re losing 470 people a day to opioid overdoses and alcohol-related causes. That’s the equivalent of a Boeing 747 crashing every day. And yet, despite this crisis, only 1 in 10 people who need treatment are able to get it.

One reason more people don’t seek treatment is the stigma surrounding addiction. Thinking and talking about addiction as a river is one way we can fight this stigma and make recovery more accessible, according to research conducted in Canada. I encourage you to do your own research by inviting others to grab a paddle and see where the river and the conversation, leads to.


Become A Lifeguard & Throw A Lifeline For Others

Our ideas of our own rivers will have all of the same features, yet how we see and place those features will be different and unique to each of us.

Having gone down your own river or still travelling down your river still can give you a unique opportunity to help others who may be heading towards their own waterfall. You can throw them the lifeline of help, support, experience and knowledge that you’ve gained from others who threw you your lifeline!


Want Help With Your River?

Once you’ve discovered your “Aha” moment and decided to make small changes towards a long, happier, productive and prosperous life, you can find a wide range of groups, charities and organisations who can help you to overcome your addiction. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here.

You can also find others who are in a similar position to you, or have been in a similar situation previously, who can help you by providing you with peer support through our social media platforms.


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The Role Abuse, PTSD & Adverse Childhood Experiences Play In Addiction


Warning: Some of the content we cover in this article may be distressing.

If you know of any form of abuse taking place, please don’t stay silent and allow the abuse to continue. Please contact your local police or social services child abuse team immediately.

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, some obvious and others are extremely subtle in the way that the abuse takes place. Abuse can occur at any age, by anyone, toward anyone, so please don’t think that just because you’re an adult now, that abuse cannot happen. This is why being aware of the various forms of abuse is so important.

In this article, we will look at the role abuse plays in childhood, adults and the elderly. We cover domestic violence and we will also look at adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), their roles and how they cause knock on effects throughout their lives.


Childhood Abuse

Parents and guardians serve as an important guiding stepping stone and foundation for their children as they shape them into the adults they will become.

Unfortunately, parents and guardians are only human and it’s possible that they might abuse their own children, especially if they experienced abuse as children themselves.

Child abuse is a major epidemic across the nation, with the NSPCC and other child abuse charities reporting a constant rise in reports and confirmed cases. This then impacts the child’s mind and influences their future lives.

Child abuse has a proven connection to future drug misuse and ultimately addiction, a problem that impacts millions of people every year which is continually growing year on year.

If you are afflicted by an addiction, it’s worth exploring your past and gauging whether or not you suffered from abuse. It can help you get a feel for where addiction originates and how it can be rooted out from your life.

People often think that domestic violence or abuse must be wives stuck at home or to young children. However, remember that abuse, PTSD and domestic violence can occur to anyone of any age, any gender or any sexuality.

Just like addictions, anybody can be touched or affected by these issues without prejudice or exception.


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) is the term used to describe traumatic experiences before age 18 that can lead to negative, lifelong emotional and physical outcomes.

When the stress of these adverse experiences is so severe or prolonged that a child is unable to process it, what should be a normal survival response becomes “toxic stress”. This type of stress alters the functioning of the brain and has a long-lasting and injurious impact on the developing mind, which we call “trauma”. This trauma affects the way those suffering it think and act throughout their lives. Understanding such mental and emotional trauma is key to understanding the behaviour of millions of people.

The term ACEs derives from a study carried out in the 1990s in California. The 10 ACEs they measured were:

Prevalence of ACEs

The original study found the following prevalence for their list of 10 ACEs:

ACE Category

Emotional Abuse

10.6%

Physical Abuse

28.3%

Sexual Abuse

20.7%

Mother Treated Violently

12.7%

Household Substance Abuse

26.9%

Household Mental Illness

19.4%

Parental Separation or Divorce

23.3%

Incarcerated Household Member

4.7%

Emotional Neglect

14.8%

Physical Neglect

9.9%

What outcomes do ACEs affect?

As the number of ACEs a person has experienced increases, so does the risk for the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Foetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischaemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

Understanding The Different Types Of Abuse

When people hear the term “child abuse”, they likely think of a parent hitting a child or spanking them excessively. While that’s definitely part of the physical aspect of child abuse, it’s not the only part. This is important for you to understand, as you may have been abused yourself without even knowing it.

You should also know that child abuse doesn’t necessarily have to come from the parent to qualify as abuse. Adults and the elderly can also experience the same forms of abuse as children. Just because they’re grown up doesn’t mean that they can’t experience the same forms of abuse.

Abuse is typically broken down into categories which we have listed below, they apply to both children, adults and the elderly:

  1. Physical Abuse
    • Assault, hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, hair-pulling, biting, pushing
    • Rough handling
    • Scalding and burning
    • Physical punishments
    • Inappropriate or unlawful use of restraint
    • Making someone purposefully uncomfortable (e.g. opening a window and removing blankets)
    • Involuntary isolation or confinement
    • Misuse of medication (e.g. over-sedation)
    • Forcible feeding or withholding food
    • Unauthorised restraint, restricting movement (e.g. tying someone to a chair)
    • Signs and indicators Open
  2. Domestic violence/abuse:
    • Psychological
    • Physical
    • Sexual
    • Financial
    • Emotional
  3. Types of neglect & acts of omission
    • Failure to provide or allow access to food, shelter, clothing, heating, stimulation and activity, personal or medical care
    • Providing care in a way that the person dislikes
    • Failure to administer medication as prescribed
    • Refusal of access to visitors
    • Not taking account of individuals’ cultural, religious or ethnic needs
    • Not taking account of educational, social and recreational needs
    • Ignoring or isolating the person
    • Preventing the person from making their own decisions
    • Preventing access to glasses, hearing aids, dentures, etc.
    • Failure to ensure privacy and dignity
    • Signs and indicators Open
  4. Types of self-neglect
    • Lack of self-care to an extent that it threatens personal health and safety
    • Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings
    • Inability to avoid self-harm
    • Failure to seek help or access services to meet health and social care needs
    • Inability or unwillingness to manage one’s personal affairs

Newer Forms Of Abuse

Some newer forms of abuse have developed as a result of the ever increasing use of the internet and technology. Below are the signs of digital abuse:

  • Bullying and harassment: Sending insulting or threatening texts or social media messages; putting you down in social media posts; tagging you in hurtful posts or photos; posting embarrassing photos of you
  • Monitoring and stalking: Stealing or demanding to know your passwords; looking through your phone or computer without permission; using location tagging or spyware to monitor and track you; posing as you online; remotely controlling your smart home devices to intimidate you
  • Sexual coercion: Demanding you take or send explicit photos or videos you aren’t comfortable with; sending you explicit photos or videos without your consent; sharing your photos or videos with others; taking photos or videos of you without your knowledge
  • Possessiveness and control: Deciding who you can follow or be friends with online; controlling who you can text or message; demanding your constant attention through technology; making you feel unsafe for not responding to messages immediately

If any of these descriptions were accurate to the way you were treated as a child, there’s a good chance you were abused. The shocking truth is that new cases of child abuse are reported every 10 seconds across the UK and these are just the reported cases. Take solace in the fact that you aren’t alone and that there is help for you!


Child Abuse Creates Trauma

It’s impossible to understand the effect that childhood abuse has on addiction without knowing how it impacts the child. The sad truth is that abuse causes extreme feelings of trauma in children that don’t just verge on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but fall into their own unique version of it. The most immediate impact that childhood abuse has on children is the creation of a sense of severe shame, self-blame, guilt or embarrassment.

This idea is borne out in the paper “Predicting PTSD Symptoms In Victims Of Violent Crime: The Role Of Shame, Anger, and Childhood Abuse,” which reaches a simple and direct conclusion: “The results suggest that both shame and anger play an important role in the phenomenology of crime-related PTSD and that shame makes a contribution to the subsequent course of symptoms. The findings are also consistent with previous evidence for the role of shame as a mediator between childhood abuse and adult psychopathology.”

In other words, children who are abused fall into a state of post-traumatic stress disorder which may be severe enough to lead to serious psychopathic problems in their future. This is heart-wrenching stuff to read, but it’s even harder when reading the results of a study published in Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, which stated “….abused children who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may experience a biologically distinct form of the disorder from PTSD caused by other types of trauma later in life.”

Without getting into too much detail, the study found that abused children didn’t just suffer from physical and psychological problems, but were actually changed on a chemical and even genetic level.

These changes negatively impacted the way that the child developed later in life, interfering with their cognitive development and potentially causing problems as diverse as depression, anxiety disorders and even schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder.

What’s truly scary about these findings is that these genetic changes were often permanent in children. All trauma causes some form of genetic change, according to the study, but in older adults, those changes are temporarily and easily fixed.

It’s truly sad to read this information, but it does explain why so many abused children fall victim to drug addiction later in life.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) & Addiction

While many children are given the helping hand they need to recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, others aren’t so lucky. This is a major problem because this condition can quickly deteriorate and cause increasing disorders in a person’s life.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD) causes a variety of reactions, including anxiety, depression, nightmares, a sense of being “under attack” at all times, thoughts of hopelessness, the idea that you are worthless and others.

Children suffering under these feelings don’t have the coping mechanisms that adults have later in life that they have learnt through life experience. They’ve yet to understand the joyful reality that our destinies are in our own hands and that they can positively change their lives.

As a result, many of these children later turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate their symptoms. Statistics and various studies back up this unfortunate truth.

“The Role of Uncontrollable Trauma in the Development of PTSD and Alcohol Addiction” by Dr.Joseph Volpicelli, Dr. Donald Bux, and others, found that post-traumatic stress disorder raised the risk of later substance use by as much as 20%.

They also found that women with PTSD were much more likely to misuse drugs, with 30% to 57% suffering from PTSD alongside addiction, causing a dual diagnosis.

Treating PTSD symptoms with drugs and alcohol is an understandable temptation to escape the thoughts, feelings and emotions that are experienced by the abusee.

After all, these substances relieve (if only temporarily) feelings of emotional and possibly physical pain and puts you in a state where you don’t have to worry about your problems, the way you feel, the thoughts you’re experiencing or the physical pain that can manifest as a result of abuse.

Unfortunately, substance misuse and addiction is a trap that will only further disrupt your life and ultimately magnify the emotional feelings associated with the previously experienced abuse.

Being addicted to substances only numbs the way you feel for a short period of time. When the drugs or alcohol wear off, those feelings and thoughts will still be there waiting for you, except this time, they’ll be bigger and harder to overcome. This increases the amount of effort that you need to apply to overcome the problems that have been waiting for you. It is still however possible to do as many, many people can attest to within their own recovery journeys.

Sadly, this is why addiction and abuse are both so commonly passed on to future generations. A parent who hasn’t dealt with the trauma of their own abuse treats it with drugs and alcohol. As a result, they develop abusive tendencies that cause problems for their own children.

Unless a parent or guardian is a psychopath, none of them enjoy abusing their children. As a result, they are feeding into their own feelings of trauma and worthlessness, further worsening the condition.


Developing PTSD As A Result Of Substance Use

Those with addictions often to things, say things or act in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise if they didn’t have an addiction. This can include:

  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Prostitution
  • Rape
  • Fraud
  • Prison sentences
  • Dealing/selling
  • And others

These experiences can also cause individuals to develop PTSD.

For example, if an individual decides to enter prostitution and then inadvertently ends up being raped. This highly traumatic experience can then trigger PTSD.

This is because they’re dealing with the knock on effects of prostitution, but then also from the rape by one or more individuals. If the person then continues to use to perform sex work, their PTSD will continue to worsen until they stop and treat their addictions, PTSD and other subsequent mental health conditions.


Abuse In Adults

As adults who have been abused previously and haven’t dealt with their own history of abuse, the chances of normalising that abusive behaviours increase, risking the abuse that the parent or guardian experienced onto their own children too.

This is why it’s important to treat the abuse, PTSD, mental health conditions and physical health conditions at the earliest possible opportunity with the help of Doctors/GP’s, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, counsellors, hypnotherapists and others to provide you with a holistic approach to help you overcome the abuse that you’ve experienced as a child.

Likewise, those who’ve experienced abuse in the past are more likely to abuse their husbands, wives or partners.

According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2020, an estimated 5.5% of adults aged 16 to 74 years (2.3 million people) experienced domestic abuse in the last year.

The remaining 59% (758,941) were recorded as domestic abuse-related crimes.

Office For National Statistics

I’m Still Living With My Abuser Or Involved In Domestic Violence, What Can I Do?

If you are experiencing abuse from your partner, deciding what to do can take time – leaving is a process. Here are some tips for increasing your safety and the safety of your children whilst you consider your options.

This page is a starting point. It is important to access specialist support as well – particularly if you are considering leaving. You can call Refuge’s expert Helpline team, 24-hours a day, on 0808 2000 247. We won’t tell you what to do, and we won’t judge you, but we can support you to understand your options and make a plan. We can let you know about specialist services in your community and help you find a refuge place. In an emergency situation, call 999.

Tell someone: Is there a friend, neighbour, or family member you trust? Let them know you might be at risk from your partner. Arrange a secret code with someone who lives close by (like ringing and hanging up, or a blank text), that lets them know you need help. You could also think about telling a professional you trust for example your GP.

Get specialist support: There are likely to be local charities in your area that can provide ongoing support, without your partner finding out. Many have ‘drop ins’, where you can access support without having made an appointment. You can phone our Helpline for referrals to services in your area, or you can look them up online. If you are searching online, remember that your partner might be tracking your search history – try and use a computer they do not have access to (e.g. at work, or in a public library). Find out more about safer browsing here, and keeping your devices safe from your partner here.

Contact the police: Be ready to call 999 if you or your children are in danger. You can also call 101 in a non-emergency situation to report previous incidents or get advice from the local domestic abuse team.

Keep a record: Think about ways you can gather evidence of your partner’s behaviour safely. Make notes of abusive incidents, including times, dates, names and details of how it made you feel. Tell your GP, so they have a record of the abuse. Save any abusive messages. These can be used as evidence at a later date. However, make sure they aren’t stored anywhere (physically, or digitally) where your partner might find them. You can find out more about the ways your partner might use technology to abuse you here.

Know your rights and options: Find out about your legal and housing rights and talk to a solicitor if possible. Explore what civil or criminal options might be available to you, including restraining orders and injunctions such as non-molestation and occupation orders (which can ban an abuser from your home). You can find information on this website, or call the Helpline to talk it through.

Financial independence: If it is possible to do so without alerting your partner, start putting some money aside for if you need to leave in a hurry. You could also think about ways you might gain financial independence away from your partner, in the future. You can find more information.

Make copies of passports, birth certificates, court orders, marriage certificates, and keep them in a safe place. You could ask someone you trust to keep copies safe for you.

In an emergency: If your partner is pursuing you, or attacking you, ring 999 as soon as possible. You could also:

  • Plan an escape route – think about where you will go so you can call the police or alert a neighbour, and plan a place to meet with your children if you get separated.
  • Move to lower-risk parts of your home, where there is an escape route or access to a phone
  • Avoid rooms like the kitchen or garage, which contain objects that could be used to hurt you
  • Teach your children how to call 999 in an emergency
  • If you are not able to get out of the house, barricade or lock yourself into a room, from which you can call the police and contact friends/family or neighbours

Don’t suffer in silence. You can overcome abuse or domestic violence. Reach out to organisations, charities and groups who can help you. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here.


Abuse In The Elderly

As we all get older, our priorities begin to change, our overall health and well-being worsens, for example our hearing, memory and our mobility gets worse. This opens the elderly up for possible exploitation and abuse, especially when they’re alone, cannot defend themselves and unable to tell others about the abuse that they’re experiencing.

Likewise, the possibility for self-neglect or those around them neglecting their basic needs or coursing them in to doing things that they don’t want to, are forced into or don’t understand what’s happening.

That’s why it’s important to come together as a family unit to help one another. This reduces the risk of exploitation or abuse.


Thankfully, Treatment & Support Is Possible

If you have suffered from any type of abuse listed above, believe you have post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD) and are also suffering from addiction, you can escape these problems. Your past defines you, it’s true, but you are also an intelligent adult who is fully in charge of your destiny.

Getting treatment for your addiction will require treating both of the problems that trauma causes.

This is known as “dual diagnosis,” as it treats mental health problems and addiction at the same time. We’ve talked about this treatment method before, but that’s only because it’s so effective in treating co-occurring disorders. You will basically go through two different processes: treatment for your abuse trauma and addiction recovery. The two treatments, occurring simultaneously, will influence one another in positive ways. A typical treatment method will follow this guideline:

  1. Checking in at a rehab center – Here, your condition will be gauged by experts and a treatment method will be decided upon.
  2. Withdrawal treatment – Quitting drugs is a physically painful cycle, but withdrawal treatment will minimize its effects.
  3. Physical health treatment – Any physical health problems, such as pain or malnutrition, caused by your addiction will be carefully treated.
  4. Psychological assessment – Here, you and your counselor will dive into your mind and find where you are suffering. Then, you’ll work together to soothe that pain and find coping mechanisms that minimize your trauma.
  5. Behavioral adjustments – Addiction is often a cycle of negative behavior patterns, so adjusting those behaviors (and negative thought processes) can help you stop a relapse.
  6. Abuse education – Learn more about abuse and its impact on your life to understand why your recovery is so important.
  7. Aftercare methods – Many people need continued outpatient care and time in a halfway house to fully recover from addiction. Others will need ongoing psychological treatment for their trauma. Fighting addiction lasts the rest of your life and aftercare techniques support you in the trenches of this tough war.

Your exact treatment will vary, depending on your needs and desires. For example, you might be able to integrate meditation and spiritual elements into your recovery, or even family counseling. For people who’ve suffered from childhood abuse, talking with parents is often a great way to make peace with that past. Talking with your children is also key if they suffered from any abuse at your doing or if they are simply concerned about your well-being.

Break The Cycle Today

The sad truth about addiction and child abuse is that they often create a cycle that affects generations in a single-family. An abusive father might cause his son to turn to drugs later in life. Then, when he has children, his addiction and abuse trauma might compel him to abuse his own children. At some point, this cycle of trauma and addiction needs to be broken.

We’re here to tell you that it’s possible to break it and to help you do it. At TurningPointTreatment.org, we have a variety of addiction experts who will help you beat addiction and give your children the kind of lives you want them to have. In this way, you can get back on your feet and become an amazing and sober parent.


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How Do I Know If I Am An Addict Or Have A Tendency Towards Addiction?Use Our Addiction Screening Tool To Find Out


So… What’s What & Who’s Who?

For those who don’t have any experience with addictions or those who are afflicted by addictions, below we have listed the main terms that we will use throughout this article and also within most of our other articles too.

For ease of explanation, we will use the term “drug” as an umbrella term for legal drugs or medicines, illegal substances and alcohol.

A drug is defined as: A medicine or other substance which has a physiological and mental effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.

An addict is defined as: A person who is either physically or psychologically dependent addicted to a particular substance, this includes including alcohol, illegal substances or prescribed medications.

An dependency is defined as: The state of relying on or being controlled by someone or something else. In this case, a substance.

Recovery is defined as: A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. And the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost. In our case, the freedom to no longer be dependent upon a drug.

An addiction is defined as: An addiction is when there’s an uncontrollable urge to consume a particular substance(s) because of a physical or mental dependence to that particular drug. Usually, this is because the substance has a pleasurable or satisfying effect, relieves withdrawal symptoms or helps to stop bad feelings, thoughts or emotions (in the short term).

Withdrawal is defined as: The action of withdrawing something or the action of ceasing to participate in an activity. In this case, ceasing to use a substance or substances that addicts are physically and/or psychologically dependent upon.


What’s Classed As A Drug?

A drug is any kind of medicine or chemical that changes how your body or brain functions. There are:

  • Alcohol (alcohol is a drug too!)
  • Illegally sought marijuana
  • Prescribed medications from your Doctor for you
  • Prescribed medications from a doctor that is meant for someone else, however you are now using them
  • Medicines that you can buy over the counter from a pharmacy or from a shelf in a supermarket
  • Illegal substances such as heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine ect
  • Medication assisted treatment (MAT) medications such as methadone, buprenorphine or acamprosate
  • Prescribed marijuana in US states where marijuana can be prescribed and dispensed
  • Medicines from a supplementary prescriber such as nurses or dentists

An addiction is when there’s an uncontrollable urge to consume a substance because of a physical or mental dependence to that particular drug. Usually, this is because the substance has a pleasurable or satisfying effect, or helps to stop bad feelings (in the short term).


Are All Drugs Addictive?

Some drugs are more addictive than others. While not all drugs are physically addictive (causing physical withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking them), they can still be psychologically (mentally) addictive, meaning you’re mentally dependent on them.


When Does Drug Use Become An Addiction?

Unlike other things in life, there isn’t an actual specific moment where somebody can use drugs recreationally without negative consequences one minute, and then suddenly become addicted to them the next.

The easiest way to think about it is that an addiction has begun when:

  • The individual continues to use a substance, even though doing so causes negative consequences in their life or those around them and yet, still continue to use it/them.
  • Addictions have begun when not using a particular substance or substances cause the individual to experience withdrawal symptoms until more of that particular substance or substances are consumed to relieve the withdrawal symptoms.

Did you know: It recorded a death rate of 6 people per 100,000, with 450 people dying from drug overdoses in the United States and United Kingdom every single day.

LuxuryRehabs.com

It’s Not If, But When…

With continued drug use, the risks of developing an addiction constantly increase every time you use recreationally, and it is this sustained use that increases your risk of developing a physical and psychological dependency to that particular substance(s) and addiction.


Addiction Prevention

Substance use prevention efforts typically focus on minors, children and teens especially 15-35 years of age. Substances typically targeted by preventive efforts include:

  • Alcohol (including binge drinking, drunkenness and driving under the influence)
  • Tobacco
  • Marijuana
  • Inhalants (volatile solvents including among other things glue, gasoline, aerosols, ether, fumes from correction fluid and marking pens)
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Steroids
  • Club drugs (such as MDMA)
  • Opioids.

Community advocacy against substance use is imperative due to the significant increase in opioid overdoses in the United States, United Kingdom among others. It has been estimated that about one hundred and thirty individuals continue to lose their lives daily due to opioid overdoses alone.

It is said that approximately 1% of the world population has a substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder.

Our World In Data

Protective & Risk Factors

Environmental and internal are two main factors that contribute to the likelihood of substance use and possible subsequent addiction. Environmental factors in the individual’s adolescence include: child abuse, exposure to drugs, lack of supervision, media influence, and peer pressure.

Drug activity in an individual’s community may normalise the usage of drugs. Similarly, if an individual is placed through treatment and then placed back into the same environment that they left, there is a great chance that person will relapse to their previous behaviour.

Internal factors that are within the child or personality-based are self-esteem, poor social skills, stress, attitudes about drugs, mental disorder and many others. A few more factors that contribute to teen drug abuse are lack of or poor parent to child communication, unsupervised accessibility of alcohol at home, having too much freedom and being left alone for long periods of time.

Additionally, there is evidence that gender moderates the effect of family, school and peer factors on adolescent substance use. For example, some studies report that not living with both biological parents or having poor parent-adolescent communication is associated with substance use, especially in female adolescents.

Main risk periods for drug abuse occur during major transitions in a child’s life. Some of these transitional periods that could increase the possibility of youth using drugs are puberty, moving, divorce, leaving the security of the home and entering school. School transitions such as those from elementary to middle school or middle school to high school can be times that children and teenagers make new friends and are more susceptible to fall into environments where there are drugs available.

One recent study examined that by the time are seniors in high school, “almost 70% will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40% will have smoked a cigarette and more than 20% will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose”.

Binge drinking has also, been shown to increase once an individual leaves the home to attend college or live on their own.

Most youths do not progress towards using other drugs after experimentation. Research has shown, when drug use begins at an early age, there is a greater possibility for addiction to occur.

Three exacerbating factors that can influence drug use to become drug use are social approval, lack of perceived risks and availability of drugs in the community.

Youths from certain demographics are also at higher risk for abuse and addiction. These groups include those suffering from a mental illness and come from a family history of addiction. Yet, some teens living with dual diagnosis prove that there is not always a causal relationship between mental illness and a substance abuse problem.

Moreover, when addiction occurs, youth are more likely to require teen rehab as a form of treatment. Most young adults have a false perception that they may be invincible. These individuals believe changes won’t be made until an extreme event happens i.e. a friend overdoses, a car accident or even death. Even then it is not likely that they will see the correlation between use and trauma.

At least 15.3 million people worldwide have drug use disorders.

World Health Organisation

Risks Of Developing An Addiction

Did you know: upto as much as 50% of those who develop addictions do so because of a genetic factor that they inherited from their parents. This however, doesn’t mean that they will become addicts. Many people who had parents who were addicts continue to lead happy, successful, drug free lives.

There are certain things that can add extra risks toward developing an addiction. These include the following.


What Are The Signs Of Drug Addiction?

There are many types of drugs that people can become addicted to, so there are many different signs to be aware of as different substances cause different effects.

If you’re concerned that you might be developing an addiction, here are some general signs to look out for.

Social And Behavioural Signs

People with a drug addiction may:

  • Avoid people who don’t take drugs
  • Avoid places where it’s not possible to take drugs
  • Feel distressed and lonely if they don’t take the drug regularly
  • Rely on drugs to cope with emotional problems, stress or grief
  • Be dishonest with friends and family to hide their drug use
  • Have financial problems and debts
  • Sell or steal things to pay for drugs
  • Take dangerous risks, such as driving under the influence of drugs
  • Self-blame and have low self-esteem, especially after trying unsuccessfully to quit
  • Get into legal trouble, including prison
  • Commit sex acts for money
  • Have worsening physical or mental health problems as a result of their sustained drug use
  • Often become unwell if they cannot gain access to their particular substance

Physical & Mental Health Signs

Drugs and alcohol can cause a range of problems for physical and mental health, even after the acute effects of taking the drug have worn off. These include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Having unusual ideas (e.g. paranoia, delusions)
  • Hallucinations
  • Attention problems
  • Memory loss
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sexual dysfunction (e.g. impotence)
  • Sweating
  • Aches
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Overdose
  • Death

Our Addiction Screening Tool

The first step to beating any addiction is recognising there is a problem in the first place – hence the well-known introduction given at addiction support meetings: “My name is [name] and I’m an alcoholic/user/gambler.”

But it can take months or even years for some people to even acknowledge that their behaviour may be harmful to them or others. By that time, it may already be badly affecting their health, work, relationships and other negative consequences.

It can be difficult to recognise what constitutes normal and what’s addiction, with categories like habitual, abuse and overuse all falling somewhere in between.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see whether it might be time to seek help.

  1. Do you find yourself unable to stop or control your behaviour even though you realise it’s having a detrimental effect on your health, social life or bank balance or causing other negative consequences?
  2. Do you ever drink, or take drugs alone?
  3. Do you ever drink or use first thing in the morning?
  4. Do you find yourself constantly thinking about your next drink or use?
  5. Have you ever been in trouble with the law due to excessive drinking or drug taking or been in prison as a result of your drug use?
  6. Would you buy drink or drugs ahead of financial responsibilities like paying your bills or buying food?
  7. Have you ever decided you’re going to cut down your habit but been unable to?
  8. Do you find yourself avoiding the company of people who disapprove of your habit or people who don’t drink alcohol or use drugs for example?
  9. Has your drinking or drug use ever affected your performance at work or in education?
  10. Do you lie to others about how much you drink or use, or even try to deceive yourself?
  11. Does your alcohol or drug use ever interfere with sleeping or eating?
  12. Have you ever lied to your doctor to get prescription drugs?
  13. Do you take risks when drunk or high or under the influence of drugs or alcohol? This might be sexual behaviours or driving after you’ve been drinking or using?
  14. Do you often neglect your personal responsibilities and commitments so that they don’t conflict with your drug or alcohol use?
  15. Has your drug or alcohol use caused damage or harm to your body (physically) or mind (psychologically) as a direct result of sustained substance use?
  16. Have you or do you commit crimes or been arrested as a result of attempting to acquire money to fund your habit?
  17. Have you ever performed sex acts for money or for substances as payment?
  18. Do you ever try to justify your substance use when you know deep down that it is unjustifiable?
  19. Do you neglect your personal hygiene such as cleaning your teeth, washing/showering or other basic daily tasks such as changing your clothes?
  20. Do you live/stay with other addicts who use or drink substances? or is your partner using/drinking too?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it may point to you having a problem.

You may want to consider whether it is time to make some changes to your behaviour and daily lifestyle. Your own GP or local community based drug and alcohol service could be a good starting point, but there are lots of other resources you can get support from. These include the following ideas for help and support.


What Can I Do About My Drug Use?

If you take drugs and alcohol regularly and you have some of the signs mentioned previously in this article, it’s important that you talk to a doctor/GP, mental health professional or local community based drug and alcohol service as soon as you can.

Continuing to take drugs or alcohol might seem like the only way to feel better, but it can lead to some pretty serious consequences, including ongoing mental and physical health issues or even death.

Recognising The problem

This is the first step in getting help for your addiction. No one can force another person to undergo treatment for a problem they don’t believe they have, so accepting that you have a problem, can’t manage on your own and need some external professional help is a massive first step in the right direction.

Talk To A Doctor/GP Or A Healthcare Professional

You can find contact information for a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you overcome your addiction. Their contact information can be found on our help and support page here.

Don’t Go “Cold Turkey

Cold turkey means stopping substance use or drinking completely and immediately.

It might seem easier to just stop taking drugs or drinking and to manage the withdrawal symptoms on your own, but this is actually the most difficult way to go about it and the least effective way to achieve successful, long lasting recovery.

If however, you decide to go cold turkey or are at a professional detox program and want tips and strategies to use for speeding up the time it takes to get over the withdrawal process and ease its intensity whilst you’re going through it, then you can read our previous article, looking at 20 tips tips and strategies that are proven to help by clicking here.

It can also be physically dangerous, depending on the drug and level of addiction. For example, stopping drinking alcohol suddenly can cause seizures (fits) and can also be fatal. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a health professional, start with a trusted friend, family member or Samaritan.

Family members and friends can find out how to best help an addict awithout enabling them by reading our comprehensive guide. You can read the article here.

If you’re looking for more info on individual types of drugs, you can contact us, check out the talk to frank website here or check out Our back catalogue of articles here.

Remember that if you do have a drug problem, the first step in overcoming it is to acknowledge it. You’ll find plenty of support services that can help you here.

You could also consider medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs. These programs provide a safer alternative to illicit drug use or the damaging effects of alcohol. You can learn more about MAT programs and the science behind it by clicking here.

The video below gives you 5 people’s opinions about their experiences of MAT medications and programs.


What Can I do Now?

  • Talk to a doctor/GP or a health professional about your drug use.
  • Try talking to family and friends if they will help and support you throughout your recovery process. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them, you can also write it in the form of a letter.
  • Consider attending fellowship meetings online or at physical groups at Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Cocaine Anonymous (CA) meetings.
  • Knowledge is power to read articles, blog posts, research findings, videos, podcasts or any others that will boost your knowledge and awareness about addiction and recovery.
  • Look into therapies such as counselling, hypnotherapy, Auricular Acupuncture and others. Drink ‘n’ Drugs offer specialist addiction therapies, you can find more information about it here.
  • You can also find others who may be in the same position as you, or have been previously by speaking to others on social media such as Facebook pages, groups, Twitter and Instagram.

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  • The Role Abuse, PTSD & Adverse Childhood Experiences Play In Addiction
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  • Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions
    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
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Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions


Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use.

It is the compulsive nature of the behaviour that is often indicative of a behavioural addiction or process addiction in an individual.

The compulsion to continually engage in activities or behaviours, despite the negative impact and subsequent consequences that they have on the person’s ability to remain mentally and/or physically healthy and functional in the home and community defines behavioural addiction.

The person may find the behaviour rewarding psychologically or get a “high” while engaged in the activity, but may later feel guilt, remorse, ashamed, embarrassed, angry, depressed, or even overwhelmed by the consequences of that continued choice.

Unfortunately, as is common for all who struggle with an addiction, people living with behavioural addictions are unable to stop engaging in that behaviour for any length of time without treatment and intervention.

If you believe that you, or someone you love, are struggling with a behavioural addiction, the good news is that treatment is a powerful tool. Learning how to manage the behavior and begin to address the issues caused by the long-term behaviors begins with intensive and integrated treatment.

When the behaviour becomes impulsive in nature and begins to contribute to the development of a range of physical and mental health problems and the person is unable to stop, it is then termed an addiction.

Drink ‘n’ Drugs

Two of the best definitions of addiction come from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).


Why Are Certain Behaviours Considered Addictions?

Most people engage in hundreds of different behaviours throughout the day, each one with its own set of consequences, often involving both positive and negative consequences.

In general, people make choices about which behaviour to engage in next relatively thoughtfully, and with the intent to improve their experience. For example, if you are hungry, you may choose to get a healthy snack that will not only satisfy your hunger but also give you energy to continue your day.

However, someone who is living with a food/sugar addiction may choose to eat, even when they’re not hungry and may binge eat unhealthy foods in large amounts throughout the day.

Though this is an unhealthy choice, many people can and will overeat, or eat when they aren’t hungry and do not struggle with a food addiction. When the behaviour becomes impulsive in nature and begins to contribute to the development of a range of physical and mental health problems and the person is unable to stop, it is then termed an addiction.

Does this mean that you can be addicted to any behaviour? It is a question that fuels an ongoing debate for many years, even decades!

Many do not feel that characterising a behaviour as an “addiction” is correct; they believe that a little self-control is all that is needed.

Unfortunately, the fact is that if a little self-control were the only issue, then people struggling with behavioural addictions would certainly stop engaging in their specific behaviours of choice long before it harmed their physical health, mental health, ended primary relationships, and caused a host of financial, legal and social problems.

Whether or not any behavior can become an addiction that is harmful to a person’s ability to function is still open to debate. What we do know is that there are several behaviours that are commonly reported as occurring at an addiction level, wreaking havoc and destroying lives for as long as they remain untreated, ignored or continually indulged in.

American Addiction Centres

Gambling Addiction


Gambling addiction
, also called problem gambling or gambling disorder, is an addiction that refers to any and all types of gambling, betting or choices related to gambling that endanger or compromise a person’s life, including their physical or mental health.

Whether it’s going to the casino and playing the slot machines, staying up for overnight poker games, gambling online or sports betting, if the choice is characterised by the following then it is termed a gambling addiction:

  • Placing bets more and more frequently
  • Betting more than originally intended
  • “Chasing” losses by continually betting beyond the ability to pay
  • Feeling irritable or aggressive when unable to gamble or when losing
  • Being preoccupied with gambling
  • Wracking up debt or gaining credit for gambling

When gambling turns into an addiction, those who seek treatment often report huge losses, including legal problems, foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, lost careers and more. Additionally, many who struggle with gambling addiction may consider or attempt suicide in severe cases.

You can find help and support from a wide range of groups, charities and organisations who can help. You can find their contact information on our help and support page here.


Food/Sugar Addiction

Though we all have to eat, and many people are prone to overeating on occasion or eating out of boredom or for pure enjoyment, people who struggle with food addiction cannot control their compulsive eating behaviours.

They tend to crave foods that are high in fats, sugar and/or salt and often describe feeling “high” while engaging in the activity. Additionally, people who are addicted to food may develop a tolerance for food, as is characteristic of people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol.

That is, they require more and more of their favorite foods in order to experience the “high” they seek. This is known as building a tolerance. People who struggle with food addiction may be obese, but people who have a normal BMI may also struggle with the disorder too. Damaged relationships, issues of self-esteem, body dysmorphia and other health problems may also occur as a result of their addictive behaviours.


Video Game Addiction

Addiction to the fantasy and escape provided by video game play as a growing phenomenon. Graphics are getting better all the time, new games are always coming out and the ability to communicate with others virtually via headsets while playing the game with people who would otherwise be strangers from all around the world is uniquely interesting to people who may have a hard time connecting with others in person. This could be due to their physical appearance, mental health conditions, anxieties and others.

Similarly, taking on the role of someone else and living a virtual life can also be alluring. As compared to a substance use addiction or even to other process addictions, video game addiction may seem relatively harmless, and certainly many people can play video games on occasion without ever developing a problem.

However, compulsive video game play can interrupt a person’s ability to connect positively with others and have healthy, real life relationships, maintain responsibilities at work or home and make choices that support their physical and mental health wellbeing (for example, eating regularly or healthfully, going to the doctor, looking after their personal hygiene, maintaining commitments and responsibilities etc.).

Ultimately, those who don’t get treatment may end up completely isolating themselves from the real world, losing their ability to function, be with family and achieve any goals, dreams or milestones outside of their virtual “life” in their video game world.


Sex & Love Addiction

Sex and love addiction is not measured or diagnosed in quantity but instead by the negative impact and consequences associated with the behaviour, on yourself and others. It is characterised by obsessive feelings and behaviours which the sufferer feels compelled to repeat regardless of the consequences. These behaviours and thoughts get progressively worse, ultimately resulting in the breakdown of personal relationships. This repetitive pattern with negative consequences can happen both as a result of excessive acting out (sexual bulimia) or the opposite, sexual anorexia.  

Love Addiction Behaviours

  • Clinging to an idealised relationship, despite a different reality
  • Returning time and again to an abusive and damaging relationship
  • Placing responsibility for emotional wellbeing on others
  • Craving attention from many different relationships and seeking new sources of attention

Sex Addiction Behaviours

  • Engaging with multiple sexual partners
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Interactions with prostitutes
  • Excessive use of pornography

When Addictions Become Unmanageable & Help Is Needed

Identifying when a behaviour has turned into a problem issue, and that problem has developed into an addiction can be tricky.

It can be easy to be too close to the person and unable to recognise when things have gone from occasionally upsetting to a diagnosable disorder that requires treatment, as these addictive behaviours develop gradually over time, rather than just happening overnight.

The fact is that any addiction is defined as a disease of the brain, a chronic illness (any illness or disease that lasts more than three months) that requires a holistic program that includes intensive therapeutic and medical treatment.

Understanding what an addiction is, what causes them and how to overcome them is a vital part to overcoming any type of addiction. You can learn about the science behind addictions and how medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs work by clicking here.

It can quickly spiral out of control, causing problems in every part of the person’s life. When this happens and the person is still unable to stop engaging in the addictive behaviour, even with a genuine desire to stop or great fear or remorse about what has and will happen, it is time to seek professional help, support, treatments and therapies for not only the addict, but their family, friends and/or loved ones too.

You can learn how to support a friend or loved one without unintentionally enabling them by reading our previous article on this topic by clicking here.

If in doubt, reach out!

If you’re not sure whether you or someone close to you may have an addiction, it’s better to ure on the side of caution and contact your nearest drug and alcohol service or Doctors Surgery.

It’s better to do too much before something occurs, rather than doing too little once it’s too late and the damage has begun, which could have been prevented earlier.

Drink ‘n’ Drugs

What Type of Programs Are Offered to Treat Behavioural Addictions?

Many of the same programs that are effective in the treatment of dependence upon drugs or alcohol are effective in the treatment of behavioural addictions.

An effective behavioural addiction treatment program should offer all clients access to the resources they need. This may include any combination of the following:

  • Detox support: Some clients describe insomnia, feelings of agitation, panic, angry outbursts, headaches and other withdrawal symptoms when they stop indulging in the addictive behaviour. Therapeutic support through this transitional period can assist the client in reaching stability in treatment and improve the capacity to focus on growth and healing going forward.
  • Diagnosis and evaluation: Just as with substance use and addiction, there are often co-occurring disorders at play that may be impacting the person’s compulsivity and ability to remain abstinent or sober in recovery. This is often in the form of mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia or others. A thorough evaluation process by your Doctor, drug and alcohol Keyworker or healthcare professional will help to identify any co-occurring substance use issues and/or mental health disorders that may be contributing to, causing or in any way impacting the person’s experience with behavioural addictions.
  • Treatment plan: A unique combination of therapies will be chosen based on the person’s evaluation and diagnosis results, personal circumstances and comfort level, and goals for recovery now and in the future. You can also take more responsibility for your addiction by creating and implementing a daily recovery plan. These will help you to make the most of your time, provide structure and ensure that you’re taking care of the little things that are often neglected, such as personal hygiene, changing clothes, socialising and doing fun things. Recovery doesn’t have to be and Shouldn’t be boring! You can check out our ultimate guide to create and implement your own, along with downloadable templates by clicking here.
  • Family support: It is often just as important for loved ones and family members to engage in their own healing processes as it is for the person living with the behavioural addiction. Family members are encouraged to not only take part in their loved one’s recovery but also to engage in support groups designed for family members, personal therapy sessions and family therapy sessions with the person in treatment. You can find groups and organisations who can help you on our help and support page here. You can also read our previous article on supporting a friend or loved one without enabling them by clicking here.

What If Substance use Is A Part of A Co-Occurring Disorder?

If a substance use or addiction disorder is a part of the experience of a client seeking treatment for a behavioural addiction, it is essential that treatment for that substance use disorder (SUD) is integrated into the overall treatment plan.

For many clients, the urge to drink or do drugs is coupled with the urge to engage in the process addiction. For example, some say that as soon as they get a drink in hand, the next thought is gambling. Others may include the use of stimulant drugs as a part of their ritual when they engage in behaviours triggered by or related to sex addiction. Another example could be an addict who only uses crack cocaine only uses it when they also have heroin.

No matter what the combination of disorders is, it is often recommended that the person enroll in a residential treatment centre, detox program or community based drug and alcohol service that are equipped with the staff, resources and experience to empower healing on all fronts.


Statistics, Facts & Data

women and gambling addiction
  • Gambling addiction may impact up to 2-3 percent of the American public and 1% of UK residents. Its signs, symptoms and impacts may vary across genders, age groups and other populations.
  • In the UK, it is estimated that around 350,000 people are suffering from a gambling addiction.
  • Men are more likely to develop a gambling problem and at an earlier age as compared to women, but women make up about 25% of those living with a gambling addiction.
  • Risk factors for the disorder include mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, mood disorders and substance use disorders, especially cocaine and/or alcohol abuse or addiction.
  • Though similar in many ways, food addiction is different from binge eating disorder. Though both may result in obesity, people who struggle with food addiction may also be of normal weight. The period between sessions of eating large amounts of food may be characterised with different eating behaviours among patients living with BED as compared to food addiction.
  • Between 1.25 and 3.4 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder, including addiction to food and/or sugar.
  • 0.3% to 1% of the general population fit the criteria for a video game addiction diagnosis in the US, UK, Canada, and Germany.
  • South Korea declared video game addiction a public health crisis since more than 600,000 children struggle with it.
  • 8.4% of children and teenagers are addicted to gaming, of which, 11-12% are boys, and 6-7% are girls.
  • It is estimated that about one in 10 young people who plays video games has an addiction to the behaviour. Some people in treatment for video game addiction report experiencing something like withdrawal symptoms when they are unable to play – angry outbursts, sweating, etc.
  • Compulsive shopping is often believed to be a female problem, but CNN reports that about 6% of women struggle with the problem – and so do 5.5% of men. Unfortunately, because shopping is a common and normal behaviour, and compulsive shoppers often go out of their way to hide the evidence of their purchases, it’s not always easy to identify the problem. Even one of the common signs of the disorder – frequent arguments over money with a spouse or significant other – is a normal issue. However, alcohol use disorders and/or an eating disorder like binge eating or bulimia often co-occur with shopping addiction, so these issues may be signs of the disorder as well.
  • People who struggle with sex addiction sex addiction are often also living with other significant mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. Engaging in potentially self-injurious behaviour during manic periods or in general may be a sign of these other disorders and must be considered as a possibility during evaluation and diagnosis at the outset of treatment.
  • Social media use can lead to addiction if it is compulsive and disruptive to the person’s ability to function in everyday life. Well before it becomes an addiction, however, chronic social media use can contribute to anxiety in users who describe feelings of discomfort and agitation if they are unable to connect – an issue that could potentially be termed a withdrawal symptom.
  • Some studies suggest that medication may be helpful in the treatment of some process addictions even if they do not co-occur with other mental health disorders. For example, some studies suggest that naltrexone may be an effective choice in the treatment of online sex addiction.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is There a Difference Between ‘Process’ and ‘Behavioural’ in Regards to Addiction?

There is no difference between the terms “process addiction” and “behavioural addiction.” Both refer to compulsive indulgence in a specific behaviour or type of behaviours that have the net result of harm to the person, plus the inability of the person to moderate or manage those behaviours without treatment.

What Types of Behavioural Addictions Are There?

Individuals may report a number of behaviours that they compulsively engage in that contribute to their inability to move forward or focus on other parts of their lives. For some, it is a behaviour that is at the base of the addiction. For others, it is a ritual that comes before or after indulging in a destructive behaviour.

For example, some clients in recovery from heroin addiction report feeling nostalgic about the process of “cooking up,” loading the syringe and tying off the vein that comes before the actual high. Others describe their process prior to engaging in sex addiction (e.g., the “hunt”) as a ritual they enjoyed; others talk about the ritual of rolling a cigarette prior to actually smoking as being just as addictive as the behaviour itself.

Still others define the obsessive and compulsive behaviours engaged in due to OCD as being addictive. However, in general, though the cravings for different aspects of a behavioural addiction may play a large role in recovery, the top behavioural addictions are often reported to include:

  • Sex addiction: Anonymous sex, sex with multiple partners and other sex acts designed to be as highly stimulating as possible are often the focus of sex addiction. Such as role play, fetishes or bondage. However, this can also be risky behaviours connected to other mental health disorders as some do not use protection and thus open themselves up to the possibility of contracting STIs, including deadly viruses like HIV and AID’s.
  • Love addiction: Some clients prefer to feel emotionally attached to the partners they connect with. Often a serial monogamist with little time spent in with that new person ensuring that the person will be a positive partner, the person craves the love and attention of the prospective partner before it is clear that there is any genuine connection. For example, a person may “jump in” head first into a relationship with someone after only knowing them for a couple of weeks and then end up finding that they aren’t the right person to be their partner.
  • Porn addiction: Porn addiction may start small and be a relatively normal behaviour among Americans and UK residents, but when people find it impossible to engage sexually with someone on a one on one basis without the use of porn, compulsively engages in the use of porn to the detriment of their ability to engage in other activities and/or begin to experience physical or mental health issues as a result, it is an addiction that requires treatment.
  • Gambling addiction: There are different levels of gambling that can indicate problem gambling and ultimately, a gambling addiction. As indicated above, when it reaches the point of destroying the person’s financial status, career and family, it is time to seek treatment.
  • Shopping addiction: There is usually a “good” reason for the copious purchases made by someone who struggles with a shopping addiction: “It was a great deal I couldn’t pass up.” “We can use this later/on holiday/in this specific circumstance.” “So-and-so would love this.” “You can never have too many of these.” Unfortunately, the end result is usually totes, bags and boxes of items with the tags left intact that are forgotten because the need is not necessarily the item but the feeling of acquiring something and filling a perceived hole in life, even if there isn’t one.
  • Video game addiction: As indicated above, addiction to playing video games is a growing problem and one that can negatively impact the person’s ability to have physical, functional relationships with others, remain employed and to prioritise physical and mental health.
  • Internet addiction: Just being connected and online can be compulsive and addictive for many people. Some check their emails compulsively, stock updates, breaking news, blog updates and more, feeling as if they are missing out if they are not connected 24/7, 365 days of the year.
  • Social media addiction: Similar to internet addiction, some people are compulsive in their use of social media. They may post even the minutest details of their life, spending hours taking pictures to post on Instagram, editing videos to upload to YouTube, updating their posts to Twitter and Facebook and responding to others on those same social media forums. Unfortunately, it can mean that they do not make positive in-person connections and may ultimately reduce their options in life and can cause real world physical and mental health conditions.
  • Food addiction: The compulsive need to eat high-fat, high-sugar or high-salt foods in large amounts when not hungry can be an addiction that leads to copious health problems especially related to obesity and mental health issues.

When Is It Time To Intervene & How?

Because almost everyone engages in the behaviours listed above – social media use, shopping, etc. – it is not always easy to recognise when someone’s engagement with these behaviours reaches an addiction level and thus requires treatment.

Though the signs and symptoms of an addictive issue vary depending upon the behaviour at the focus of the addiction, it is time to get help for a behavioural addiction when:

  • Practice of the behaviour becomes an obsession or consumes your thoughts throughout the day.
  • Practice of the behaviour becomes frequent – daily and/or multiple times per day.
  • The person chooses to engage in the behaviour rather than work, spend time with family, keep commitments or responsibilities or no longer engage in other activities that were once enjoyed.
  • Relationships or friendships are harmed by the person’s chronic engagement in the behaviour.
  • Other serious consequences result from an inability to stop the behaviour (e.g., problems at work or maintaining a job, financial issues, health problems, legal issues, criminal issues and others.

What Are the Underlying Causes for Behavioural Addictions?

Like a substance abuse and addiction, there is usually no single cause responsible for the development of the addiction disorder. Often, it is a combination of issues, including:

  • Genetic predisposition to the development of an addiction disorder
  • Biology
  • Living in or growing up in an environment that is permissive of the behaviour
  • Trauma that alters brain function
  • Acute issues of stress that trigger the person to attempt to utilise the behaviour as a coping mechanism

Are Addictive Behaviours Hereditary?

In some cases, genetics and growing up in a home where other family members regularly engage in a certain behaviour may contribute to a person’s development of a behavioral addiction. However, it is not guaranteed that because a sibling, parent, or other family member struggles with addiction that someone else in the family will have the same problem. Additionally, it is possible to develop an addiction disorder and have no known hereditary contribution to the issue.

What Therapies Are Used in Treating Behavioural Problems?

There is a range of therapies that can be useful in the treatment of behavioral addictions. These include:

  • Personal therapy: Discussing the acute issues that may be triggering the urge to engage in the behaviour during treatment while also discussing childhood and other past events that may have contributed to its development can empower the person to take responsibility for behaviours and institute new, healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Family therapy: Often, relationships at home are negatively impacted by the person’s chronic engagement in the behavioural addiction. It can contribute to feelings of broken trust and resentment that must be addressed therapeutically if the family unit is to continue and thrive in recovery.
  • Support groups: Connecting with others who also struggle with behavioural addictions, especially those who are in recovery for the same behavioural addiction, can help the person to feel less alone and increase the support network that is necessary for long-term healing, abstinence and success.
  • Alternative therapies: Sports and adventure therapies, nutritional therapy, animal-assisted therapy, journaling and psychodrama – there is a number of holistic therapy options that may be beneficial to the person in developing new methods of self-exploration and paths for healing.

How Can a Family Help a Member with a Behavioural Issue?

Family members can be instrumental in the person’s ability to accept that there is a need for change and understand that enrollment in an integrated treatment program can be a positive agent of that change. Additionally, the addicts loved ones can play an active role in that person’s recovery by attending family therapy sessions and going to support groups for family members to learn more about the disorder and what to expect during the first years of recovery at home. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here.

When family members are empowered to help their loved one in recovery, they can heal themselves and also help to heal the family as a whole, whether or not the client remains actively in treatment.


Are There Medications that Can Help Treat a Behavioural Addiction?

In some cases, depending upon the specific nature of the behavioural addiction and the impact it has on the client as well as the nature of any mental health symptoms experienced and/or the diagnosis of a co-occurring mental health disorder including addiction, medication may be appropriate during some or all of the treatment process.

However, this varies significantly from client to client and medication is never the focus of treatment. Rather, it is used to assist in transitional periods of recovery that may be difficult, to address underlying chronic issues, and/or to help increase the client’s comfort level during the therapeutic process and should not be seen as a long term solution to addictions. Therapy, not medication, is almost always the primary focus in the treatment of behavioural addictions.


Kinds of Relapse Preventions Skills Exist for Behavioural Addictions?

Avoiding relapse is a daily task, sometimes an active task that takes place minute by minute. Some of the ways that people can improve their ability to avoid relapse in recovery from a behavioural addiction include:

  • Identifying the people, places, situations, feelings and other events that can trigger the urge to engage in the behaviour
  • Determining how best to eliminate those triggers
  • Creating an actionable plan to mitigate the impact of those triggers and deal with the urge to relapse that may occur, see our daily recovery plan to create your own
  • Building a support system in recovery that includes people who genuinely support the client’s desire to avoid relapse and engage in more positive behaviours
  • Learning how to return to recovery if a relapse should occur

What Support Groups Exist for Behavioural Addictions?

For almost every type and style of behavioural addiction, there are both online and in-person support groups that range from informal meetings, fellowship meetings to formal therapy sessions that are designed to create a support base for people who would like to learn how to live without engaging in the behavioural addiction.

For example, for people who live with food addiction, some support group options include Food Addicts Anonymous and Food Addicts in Recovery.

Those who are addicted to gambling can find support in Gamblers Anonymous. Similarly, those living with a shopping addiction can attend Shopaholics Anonymous meetings and those living with a sex addiction can find support at Sex Addicts Anonymous groups.


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    Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily. Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff. This article will help you to better appreciate the little things that we may take for granted when life gets hectic and rocky by providing you with hints, tips and strategies to include this into your daily life and activities.
  • Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – Seeing Your Addiction And Recovery Journey From A Different Perspective
    Using rivers and waterfalls as analogies for addiction and recovery have a lot more in common than you may realise at first, especially helping us to see those “Aha” moments. The “aha’s” come when we realise that we don’t tend to blame people for drowning or for just treading water. We understand that sometimes people jump in over their heads, get caught in the current or get swept away by forces stronger than themselves. If we find ourselves in this swiftly moving river, we recognise that we need more than human willpower to get back out. Much more. This is where we can find some compassion, which can be a life raft we offer to ourselves and others who are in recovery. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease and its rapids are fast and deep. Some of us dive in and never make it back to the surface. Others fight the current for many years. Most of us need help to make our way to shore and keep from falling in again. It takes a lot of practice to become a strong swimmer. You can find helpful exercises and information to benefit you, no matter whether you’re still actively using or drinking, in recovery already or wish to help a friend or loved one who’s afflicted by an addiction.
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  • Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions
    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts
    Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother, because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord. This also can affect the growth and development of the fetus, along with causing issues that will affect them throughout their later life. Find out all you need to know about NAS and more, including treatment options and help and support for those who may be/are or wanting to become pregnant, but are substance dependent or on a MAT program.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts


Warning: The topic and content of this article way be upsetting. This article has photos and videos of babies experiencing withdrawal symptoms.


What Is Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)?

Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord.

Studies have found that smoking cigarettes, using opioids, drinking alcohol, using cocaine and using methamphetamine while pregnant can each affect fetal development prior to birth. Babies exposed to drugs in utero may experience developmental consequences including impaired growth, birth defects and altered brain development.

Prenatal drug exposure may impact the child’s behaviour, language, cognition and achievement long term. Drug use during pregnancy may also lead to miscarriage or pre-term labor.

Based on the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 194,000 pregnant women between the ages of 15 to 44 have used illicit drugs in the past month, including an estimated 161,000 who used marijuana, an estimated 32,000 who misused painkillers, an estimated 12,000 who misused tranquillisers/sedatives and an estimated 8,000 who misused cocaine.

An estimated 334,000 pregnant women between the ages of 15 to 44 (14.7%) have used tobacco in the past month and an estimated 261,000 used alcohol in the past month.

Prenatal exposure to amphetamines may cause facial clefts, heart defects and decreased fetal growth among others complications during development or after birth.

Remember – Your body is/will be generating a whole variety of hormones and chemicals, along with increased cravings and emotions.

If you’re struggling, it’s vital that you reach out for help and support straight away before you make bad decisions which could then cause further/unnecessary harm to you or your unborn baby.

You could contact your GP, drug and alcohol Keyworker, OB-GYN Doctor, Midwife or mental health professional.


How Is NAS Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of NAS is made based on a history of medicine or substance use in the mother. An accurate report of the mother’s drug and alcohol use is important.

This includes the time and date the last drug or drink was taken. The healthcare provider may use a scoring system to help diagnose and pinpoint how serious the baby’s withdrawal is.

For example, the Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System (you can find more information about this at the bottom of this article). Points are assigned for certain signs and symptoms and the seriousness of each. This scoring may also help in planning treatment.

The healthcare provider may check meconium, urine, umbilical cord blood or all three if the healthcare professional suspects that the mother was/is using drugs or alcohol. It can also be done if the baby shows symptoms of the syndrome. Some birth centers routinely screen all babies.

The best way to diagnose NAS is by having the awareness about NAS and addiction generally. Also knowing who is likely to have it is important so that it can be dealt with at the earliest possible opportunity to minimise the distress that is experienced by the newborn or the mother.


Nature Vs Nurture

What the parent eats, drinks or uses (including prescribed medications all go to the developing foetus. Also, the parents DNA also impact the baby is a multitude of different ways.

This can also help to determine whether the developing baby will ultimately develop addictions or addictive behaviours themselves. You can learn more about nature vs nurture in our previous article by clicking here.


The Science Behind Addictions

Understanding the science behind addictions is a great starting point when it comes to overcoming your addiction. You can learn about the science behind addiction and how medicated assisted treatments (MAT) programs by clicking here.


Some More Than Others

Some drugs and medicines are more likely to cause the syndrome than others. But nearly all have some effect on the baby. When more than one drug has been used, the symptoms are often worse. These include:

  • Opioids like heroin and prescribed medicines such as codeine and oxycodone
  • Stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine. For these drugs, the effects on a baby are more likely from the drug itself instead of withdrawal.
  • Antidepressant medicines such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Depressants such as barbiturates, or alcohol, or marijuana
  • Nicotine from cigarette smoking

Alcohol use can also cause another group of problems called fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (mentioned in more detail below).


Symptoms Of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

Symptoms that the newborn is suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome may include:

  • Crying that is excessive and/or high-pitched
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Excessive sucking
  • Poor feeding, slow weight gain
  • Diarrhea, vomiting
  • Fever
  • Blotchy skin
  • Sweating
  • Quick breathing
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Hyperactive reflexes, increased muscle tone
  • Trembling, seizures

Symptoms of the syndrome may vary depending on:

  • The type of drug used
  • The last time it was used
  • Whether the baby is full-term or premature

Symptoms of withdrawal may start as soon as 24 to 48 hours after birth. Or they may start as late as 5 to 10 days after birth.


Premature Babies

Premature babies may have a lower risk for withdrawal symptoms or have less severe symptoms. They may also get better faster because they were exposed to less of the drug than full-term babies.


Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Alcohol use during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal growth, birth defects and long-term impacts on growth. It may cause a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) in the baby. The most severe type of FASD is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). FASDs may cause physical and psychiatric problems. Possible physical consequences of FASDs include:

  • Small head size
  • Abnormal facial features
  • Problems with vision or hearing
  • Low body weight
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Poor coordination
  • Problems with sleep and sucking as a baby
  • Heart, kidney or bone problems

In later life, the baby with FAS may experience:

  • May develop learning difficulties or special needs
  • Problems with eyes/vision or ears/hearing
  • May continue to have heart, kidney or bone problems
  • More likely to develop addictions themselves or developing mental health conditions

Effects Of Alcohol & Drug Use During Pregnancy

Using opioids, cocaine, alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs during pregnancy may lead to:

  • Miscarriage
  • Pre-term birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Abnormal neurobehavior
  • Birth defects

A baby whose mother used certain drugs while pregnant may suffer from long-term problems due to growth failure or birth defects involving the brain, heart, kidneys or intestines. Infants exposed to drugs in utero have an increased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).


What Is SIDS?

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – sometimes known as “cot death” is the sudden, unexpected and unexplained death of an apparently healthy baby.

In the UK, more than 200 babies die suddenly and unexpectedly every year. This statistic may sound alarming but SIDS is rare and the risk of your baby dying from it is low.

Most deaths happen during the first 6 months of a baby’s life. Infants born prematurely or with a low birthweight are at greater risk. SIDS also tends to be slightly more common in baby boys.

SIDS usually occurs when a baby is asleep, although it can occasionally happen while they’re awake.

Parents can reduce the risk of SIDS by not smoking while pregnant or after the baby is born, and always placing the baby on their back when they sleep.

You can learn more about SIDS by clicking here.


Effects On Drug Exposed Children

Substances like nicotine, alcohol, opioids, illegal drugs and certain legally prescribed medications are associated with long-term mental and behavioural effects in children exposed to them prenatally, such as:

  • Cognition
  • Language
  • Achievement
  • Behaviour
  • Further addictive behaviours
  • Thought processes
  • Likelihood of developing a mental health condition

In addition to the possible physical consequences of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, potential psychiatric and social issues include:

  • Hyperactivity including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Intellectual/learning difficulties or disability, including possible low IQ
  • Delays in speech, language including speech problems or comprehending sentences, meaning or tone of a conversation
  • Learning disabilities and difficulty in school or further education
  • Poor judgment and reasoning skills
  • Greater risk of developing a mental health condition or addictions or addictive behaviours

Neurobehavioral Effects on Newborns & Infants

Nicotine is linked to neurobehavioral impacts in infants and long-term effects on cognition, achievement, language and behaviour. Alcohol is associated with neurobehavioral effects in infants, and long-term impacts on cognition, language, achievement and behaviour.

Marijuana exposure prenatally is related to some infant neurobehavioral alterations and long-term effects on cognition, behaviour and/or achievement.

Babies exposed to opioids prenatally may have neurobehavioral changes as an infant and long-term behavioural effects. Prenatal exposure to cocaine is associated with some impacts on infant neurobehavior and long-term effects on behaviour, executive function and language. Methamphetamine is linked to neurobehavioral alterations in infants.


Treatments for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)

Babies suffering from withdrawal are irritable and often have a difficult time being comforted.

  • Swaddling or snugly wrapping your baby in a blanket may help comfort your baby
  • Babies may also need extra calories because of their increased activity and may need a higher calorie formula. Intravenous (IV) fluids are sometimes needed if your baby becomes dehydrated or has severe vomiting or diarrhea.

Some babies may need medications to treat severe withdrawal symptoms, especially for seizures (fits). Specific drugs for treating withdrawal can include:

  • Methadone for heroin and other opiate withdrawal
  • Benzodiazepines (for alcohol withdrawal)
  • Sedatives can help to settle their central nervous system if they are extremely restless or shaking
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids to replace lost fluids during vomiting and diarrhoea. They also help to flush out substances more quickly
  • NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) are sometimes used to reduce fevers, sweating or body pains or aches

Other drugs are also being used to help relieve the discomfort and problems of withdrawal. The treatment drug is usually in the same class as the substance your baby is withdrawing from. Once the signs of withdrawal are controlled, the dosage is gradually decreased to help wean your baby off the drug (tapering/slow reductions).


Complications Associated With NAS

Even without neonatal abstinence syndrome, prenatal drug exposure can be related to later developmental delay. This may be the result of the environment in which the baby grows up as well.

Specific drugs have been linked to specific problems in the baby. These problems may include:

  • Heroin and other opioids, including methadone, can cause serious withdrawal in the baby. Some symptoms can last as long as 4 to 6 months. Seizures may also occur in babies born to opioid users
  • Amphetamines can lead to low birth weight and premature birth
  • Cocaine use can cause poor growth. It also makes complications such as placental abruption more likely
  • Marijuana use may cause lower birth weight, as well as later learning and behaviour problems
  • Alcohol use can have major effects on babies before and after birth. Growth during pregnancy and after birth is slowed. It can also cause certain problems of the head and face, heart defects, learning problems and mental problems
  • Cigarette smoking may cause low birth weight. It may also put babies at higher risk for premature birth and stillbirth

Addiction Help For Pregnant Women

Although anyone who struggles with a substance use disorder (addiction) should seek treatment, it is especially important for women who may be, are or may soon become pregnant.

Firstly, speak to your Doctor or GP to ensure that you get ongoing support throughout your pregnancy. Secondly, contact your nearest community based drug and alcohol service for more specialist help, support, treatments and therapies to help both you and the unborn baby. This may include medicated assisted treatment (MAT), counselling or hypnotherapy, meditation or mindfulness techniques, auricular acupuncture, ob-gyn Doctor, fellowship meetings such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Cocaine Anonymous (CA)or group/one to one meetings among others.

You can find contact information for all of these sources of help and support on our help and support page here.

Remember – Your body is/will be generating a whole variety of hormones and chemicals, along with increased cravings and emotions.

If you’re struggling, it’s vital that you reach out for help and support straight away before you make bad decisions which could then cause further/unnecessary harm to you or your unborn baby.

You could contact your GP, drug and alcohol Keyworker, OB-GYN Doctor, Midwife or mental health professional.

You could also consider attending baby or pregnancy courses to better help you prepare for birth and/or motherhood with other people in the same boat as you. Contact your ob-gyn Doctor, Midwife or birthing unit for more information about these services and others that are available in your area.


What Other Parents Who Have Gone Through NAS Have To Say.


The Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System For Healthcare Professionals

The Finnegan Neonatal Abstinence Scoring System is the most commonly used scoring tool for newborn babies who have NAS and as part of their treatment, require monitoring.

Although the original tool has been modified frequently. Below is a modified Finnegan NAS Scoring form developed by Jansson, Velez, and Harrow. It was further modified by the Fletcher Allan Hospital of Vermont.


Remember, We Offer Counselling & Hypnotherapy Services!

Drink ‘n’ Drugs offer online & face to face counselling sessions, along with hypnotherapy, auricular acupuncture and mindfulness workshops/courses.

Our therapists are highly trained and experienced in helping you to get clean and sober and live an amazing, new life, free of the bonds to addictions to do exciting new things with those you love.

They also can help with other areas aside from addiction including:

  • Chronic (long term) pain management
  • Mental health conditions
  • Mental health crises

Our therapies are available individually or alongside your family or friends as group therapy sessions.

For more information or to contact us, visit our therapy page by clicking here.

Want More Like This?…

  • How To Appreciate The Little Things In Addiction And Recovery
    Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily. Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff. This article will help you to better appreciate the little things that we may take for granted when life gets hectic and rocky by providing you with hints, tips and strategies to include this into your daily life and activities.
  • Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – Seeing Your Addiction And Recovery Journey From A Different Perspective
    Using rivers and waterfalls as analogies for addiction and recovery have a lot more in common than you may realise at first, especially helping us to see those “Aha” moments. The “aha’s” come when we realise that we don’t tend to blame people for drowning or for just treading water. We understand that sometimes people jump in over their heads, get caught in the current or get swept away by forces stronger than themselves. If we find ourselves in this swiftly moving river, we recognise that we need more than human willpower to get back out. Much more. This is where we can find some compassion, which can be a life raft we offer to ourselves and others who are in recovery. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease and its rapids are fast and deep. Some of us dive in and never make it back to the surface. Others fight the current for many years. Most of us need help to make our way to shore and keep from falling in again. It takes a lot of practice to become a strong swimmer. You can find helpful exercises and information to benefit you, no matter whether you’re still actively using or drinking, in recovery already or wish to help a friend or loved one who’s afflicted by an addiction.
  • The Role Abuse, PTSD & Adverse Childhood Experiences Play In Addiction
    Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, some obvious and others are extremely subtle in the way that the abuse takes place. Abuse can occur at any age, by anyone, toward anyone, so please don’t think that just because you’re an adult now, that abuse cannot happen. This is why being aware of the various forms of abuse is so important. In this article, we will look at the role abuse plays in childhood, adults and the elderly. We cover domestic violence and we will also look at adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), their roles and how they cause knock on effects throughout their lives.
  • How Do I Know If I Am An Addict Or Have A Tendency Towards Addiction?Use Our Addiction Screening Tool To Find Out
    We thought we’d go back to basics for those who don’t know anything about addiction, what an addict is, what defines addiction and what options are available. Knowing the difference between recreational using or drinking and addiction or dependency can be a challenging thing to define. This article will help you to separate addiction from recreational use.
  • Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions
    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts
    Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother, because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord. This also can affect the growth and development of the fetus, along with causing issues that will affect them throughout their later life. Find out all you need to know about NAS and more, including treatment options and help and support for those who may be/are or wanting to become pregnant, but are substance dependent or on a MAT program.

How many years are your bad habits shaving off YOUR life? Find Out By Using Our Interactive Addiction Calculator


This article was written in conjunction with American Addiction Centres.

Drug and alcohol addiction cause a wide variety of complications as a result of their use. The longer someone uses or drinks, the more damage that will be caused to their body, ultimately cutting your lifespan short.

Use our interactive addiction calculator to see how much damage has been caused has already been done and how much time your previous substance use has cut short, and if you continue to drink or use, how much more time will it cutoff your expected lifespan.

  • New website has calculated the cost of an addiction in years and hours
  • Smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes a day cuts ten years off a person’s life
  • Drinking two or more alcoholic drinks every day cuts 23 years off a life
  • Cocaine addicts lose up to 34 years, with each line or pipe costing 5.6 hours
  • Methadone users cut their lives by 38 years, and die at an average age of 41
  • A heroin addiction will cut 42 years off a person’s life, killing them at age 38
  • Lifetime methamphetamine users lose 42 years, each dose costing 11 hours

A new website has worked out how much time a smoker, alcoholic or a drug addict will lose, each time they use.

Alcoholics cut their lives short by 23 years, while chronic cocaine users lose 34 years, it adds. 

Each time a heroin addict takes a normal dose of the drug, they cut almost 23 hours off their life. Methadone cuts almost 13 hours and cocaine cuts 5 hours, the website claims.

Mephamphetamine addicts live to an average age of just 38, while heroin addicts don’t fare much better, dying at on average at just 38 years old.

The website’s creators have also worked out how many minutes or hours each single dose will cost an addict.

One line of cocaine takes a chronic user five minutes closer to death, while a single methadone pill costs a user almost 13 hours. 

All the data came from official sources including the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHS, records of annual UK hospital admissions and various research findings from UK universities.

Jake Tri, project manager for the website said it was formed after the developers heard comments about how much time smoking a cigarette costs a person and wanted to find out the exact figure.


The Longer Term Damage That Addiction Causes & Its Toll On Their Quality Of Life

Below we list some of the most common damage that drugs cause to their user and those around them. These aren’t just physical but we have included them to.

The damage that addiction can cause include the following, but not limited to:

Addicts were asked how their lives were negatively impacted as a result of their addiction. These 11 category results were then split into male and female.
  • Circulatory/heart conditions/disease
  • Damage to skin and it’s underlying structures
  • Damage to your senses (eyes, vision, touch and smell ect)
  • Damage to the brain, both physically and chemically
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Organ damage such as liver cirrhosis or heart failure
  • A wide range of mental health conditions
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Financial problems & debt
  • Loss of family, friends, colleagues and others
  • Loss/damage to their employment or career prospects and opportunities
  • Criminal convictions, prison sentences and criminal records
  • Loss of their home/accommodation
  • Loss of children through social services (CPS if you’re American)
  • Damage to your physical appearance
  • Impacts on your personal hygiene
  • Loss of cars or other forms of transportation
  • Infections or lowered immune system
  • Death or permanent damage from overdosing
  • Declined travelling to certain other countries
  • Many, many others

Understanding how addictions develop can help you to better understand the addiction process and how to reverse the damage caused as best as possible. You can learn about the science of addiction and Medication assisted treatment programs (MAT) by clicking here.


How Do People End Up With Addictions?

Anyone can become addicted to a wide variety of things such as sports/exercise, food, sugar, sex, shopping, gambling, porn and others. You can learn more about addictions and how using or drinking recreationally turns into a physical and psychological dependency to these substances.


The Addiction Calculator

Here, you can access an interactive addiction calculator that will allow you to see just how much damage your substance use has caused upto now. They also show you how much more damage will be caused if you continue to use or drink as you currently do or how much your life will be cut short as a result of your addiction.

You can access the interactive addiction calculator by clicking here.


12 Steps to Change Unhealthy Habits

  1. Identify the habits you want to change This means bringing what is usually unconscious (or at least ignored) to your awareness. It does not mean beating yourself up about it. Make a list of things you’d like to change, and then pick one.
  2. Look at what you are getting out of it In other words, how is your habit serving you? Are you looking for comfort in food? Numbness in wine? An outlet or connection online? Stress alleviation through eating or nail biting? This doesn’t have to be a long, complex process. You’ll figure it out—and you’ll have some good ideas about how to switch it up for healthier outcomes.
  3. Honor your own wisdom Here’s a common scenario: You feel like you have no down-time, so you stay up way too late binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. You know you’ll be exhausted and less productive the next day, but you feel “entitled” to something fun, just for you. Your wisdom, however, knows this is not a healthy way to get it. Use that wisdom to build something into your schedule that will provide what you really want. Realise you do have the answers and are capable of doing something different.
  4. Choose something to replace the unhealthy habit Just willing yourself to change isn’t enough because it does not address the underlying benefit of the behaviour you want to replace. What can you do instead of standing in front of the fridge when you’re stressed? If you have a plan, you will be “armed” with tools and a replacement behavior. Next time you catch yourself not hungry but standing in front of the refrigerator anyway, try a replacement behaviour. Some ideas: Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8, focusing only on your breathing. Do that 4 times and see how you feel. If you need more support, stand there until you come up with one reason why you shouldn’t continue with this habit. This is a key step. When you do something different to replace an unhealthy habit, acknowledge to yourself that you are doing it differently. You need to bring whatever it is that is subconscious to the conscious mind so that you can emphasize your ability to change. It can be as simple as saying to yourself, “Look at that. I made a better choice.”
  5. Remove triggers If Doritos are a trigger, throw them out on a day you feel strong enough to do so. If you crave a cigarette when you drink socially, avoid social triggers—restaurants, bars, nights out with friends. This doesn’t have to be forever—just for a while, until you feel secure in your new habit. Sometimes certain people are our triggers. Remember that you end up being like the five people you hang out with most. Look at who those people are: Do they inspire you or do they drag you down? You can learn more about triggers, lapses and relapses here.
  6. Visualise yourself changing Serious visualisation retrains your brain. In this case, you want to think differently about your ability to change—so spend some time every day envisioning yourself with new habits. Picture yourself exercising and enjoying it, eating healthy foods, or fitting into those jeans. See yourself engaged in happy conversation with someone instead of standing in the back of the room. This kind of visualisation really works. The now familiar idea that “nerves that fire together wire together” is based on the idea that the more you think about something—and do it—the more it becomes wired in your brain. Your default choice can actually be a healthier one for you.
  7. Monitor your negative self-talk The refrain in your brain can seriously affect your default behaviours. So when you catch yourself saying, “I’m fat” or “No one likes me,” reframe it or redirect it. Reframing is like rewriting the script. Replace it with, “I’m getting healthy, or “My confidence is growing.” Redirecting is when you add to your negative self-talk of “I’m fat” with “But I’m working my way into a healthier lifestyle.” Judging yourself only keeps you stuck. Retrain the judgmental brain.
  8. Take baby steps, if necessary Even if you can’t fully follow through with a new habit right away, do something small to keep yourself on track. For example, if you’ve blocked out an hour to exercise and you suddenly have to go to a doctor’s appointment, find another time to squeeze in at least 15 minutes. That way, you’ll reinforce your new habit, even if you can’t commit 100 percent.
  9. Accept that you will sometimes falter We all do. Habits don’t change overnight. Love yourself each time you do and remind yourself that you are human.
  10. Know that it will take time Habits usually take several weeks to change. You have to reinforce that bundle of nerves in your brain to change your default settings.
  11. Change your environment to be a more positive and productive place to promote your growth in recovery. Find out how to change your environment here.
  12. Forgive yourself for lapses. They are a part of learning to identify triggers and implementing coping strategies when they occur. Find out how to use lapses/relapses as learning opportunities here.

You can also use mindfulness and other techniques and skills to boost your chances of succeeding for the longer term. Creating and implementing a daily recovery plan can also help to ensure that you meet your daily needs by providing structure and stability for your rocky and unstable life at present. They also ensure that you actively focus on your recovery whilst having fun in the process. Find out how to create and implement your own daily recovery plan here.

Bring the process to your awareness by writing it down. It is very easy to forget a new plan that is conceived with best intentions, but never reinforced. For maximum success, take 15 minutes to plan out your new habit, pen in hand.

And yes, you can do this.


Want Help & Support For Your Addiction Or Substance Use?

You can find contact information for a wide range of groups, charities and organisations who can help. You can find their information on our help and support page here.


Want More Like This?…

  • How To Appreciate The Little Things In Addiction And Recovery
    Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily. Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff. This article will help you to better appreciate the little things that we may take for granted when life gets hectic and rocky by providing you with hints, tips and strategies to include this into your daily life and activities.
  • Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – Seeing Your Addiction And Recovery Journey From A Different Perspective
    Using rivers and waterfalls as analogies for addiction and recovery have a lot more in common than you may realise at first, especially helping us to see those “Aha” moments. The “aha’s” come when we realise that we don’t tend to blame people for drowning or for just treading water. We understand that sometimes people jump in over their heads, get caught in the current or get swept away by forces stronger than themselves. If we find ourselves in this swiftly moving river, we recognise that we need more than human willpower to get back out. Much more. This is where we can find some compassion, which can be a life raft we offer to ourselves and others who are in recovery. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease and its rapids are fast and deep. Some of us dive in and never make it back to the surface. Others fight the current for many years. Most of us need help to make our way to shore and keep from falling in again. It takes a lot of practice to become a strong swimmer. You can find helpful exercises and information to benefit you, no matter whether you’re still actively using or drinking, in recovery already or wish to help a friend or loved one who’s afflicted by an addiction.
  • The Role Abuse, PTSD & Adverse Childhood Experiences Play In Addiction
    Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, some obvious and others are extremely subtle in the way that the abuse takes place. Abuse can occur at any age, by anyone, toward anyone, so please don’t think that just because you’re an adult now, that abuse cannot happen. This is why being aware of the various forms of abuse is so important. In this article, we will look at the role abuse plays in childhood, adults and the elderly. We cover domestic violence and we will also look at adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), their roles and how they cause knock on effects throughout their lives.
  • How Do I Know If I Am An Addict Or Have A Tendency Towards Addiction?Use Our Addiction Screening Tool To Find Out
    We thought we’d go back to basics for those who don’t know anything about addiction, what an addict is, what defines addiction and what options are available. Knowing the difference between recreational using or drinking and addiction or dependency can be a challenging thing to define. This article will help you to separate addiction from recreational use.
  • Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions
    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts
    Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother, because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord. This also can affect the growth and development of the fetus, along with causing issues that will affect them throughout their later life. Find out all you need to know about NAS and more, including treatment options and help and support for those who may be/are or wanting to become pregnant, but are substance dependent or on a MAT program.

Thank You For Your Hard Work This Christmas


We promised that we would match your purchases of Morrison’s supermarkets “pick up parcels” which give your local food banks the things they need at this time of the year but always run out of.

Our volunteers said that they would put their hands in their pockets and match your purchases to double your donations for your food bank.

The Grand Total Is!…

Grand total of your purchases and ours was: £287.00 worth of food that has helped the most vulnerable in our communities this Christmas!

Thank you so much for your help and a big well done. you truly have made a difference this Christmas.


Are You Struggling With Food?

If you’re struggling with the cost of food or unable to get food, we can help you!

You can find contact information for a range of food banks and charities who can help you. You can find their contact information on our help and support page here.


Want More Like This?…

  • How To Appreciate The Little Things In Addiction And Recovery
    Appreciating the little things in life means that you focus your attention on what nurtures and sustains you in life. On everything and anything that brings you even the smallest amount of pleasure. It also means practicing gratitude by noticing these everyday things that you may otherwise take for granted so easily. Because we are going through so many major changes in active addiction and early recovery, it can be somewhat difficult to hone in and focus on being grateful for the small stuff. This article will help you to better appreciate the little things that we may take for granted when life gets hectic and rocky by providing you with hints, tips and strategies to include this into your daily life and activities.
  • Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls – Seeing Your Addiction And Recovery Journey From A Different Perspective
    Using rivers and waterfalls as analogies for addiction and recovery have a lot more in common than you may realise at first, especially helping us to see those “Aha” moments. The “aha’s” come when we realise that we don’t tend to blame people for drowning or for just treading water. We understand that sometimes people jump in over their heads, get caught in the current or get swept away by forces stronger than themselves. If we find ourselves in this swiftly moving river, we recognise that we need more than human willpower to get back out. Much more. This is where we can find some compassion, which can be a life raft we offer to ourselves and others who are in recovery. Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease and its rapids are fast and deep. Some of us dive in and never make it back to the surface. Others fight the current for many years. Most of us need help to make our way to shore and keep from falling in again. It takes a lot of practice to become a strong swimmer. You can find helpful exercises and information to benefit you, no matter whether you’re still actively using or drinking, in recovery already or wish to help a friend or loved one who’s afflicted by an addiction.
  • The Role Abuse, PTSD & Adverse Childhood Experiences Play In Addiction
    Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, some obvious and others are extremely subtle in the way that the abuse takes place. Abuse can occur at any age, by anyone, toward anyone, so please don’t think that just because you’re an adult now, that abuse cannot happen. This is why being aware of the various forms of abuse is so important. In this article, we will look at the role abuse plays in childhood, adults and the elderly. We cover domestic violence and we will also look at adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), their roles and how they cause knock on effects throughout their lives.
  • How Do I Know If I Am An Addict Or Have A Tendency Towards Addiction?Use Our Addiction Screening Tool To Find Out
    We thought we’d go back to basics for those who don’t know anything about addiction, what an addict is, what defines addiction and what options are available. Knowing the difference between recreational using or drinking and addiction or dependency can be a challenging thing to define. This article will help you to separate addiction from recreational use.
  • Recognising And Overcoming Behavioural Addictions
    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts
    Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother, because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord. This also can affect the growth and development of the fetus, along with causing issues that will affect them throughout their later life. Find out all you need to know about NAS and more, including treatment options and help and support for those who may be/are or wanting to become pregnant, but are substance dependent or on a MAT program.

Christmas Survival Guide For Addicts And The Coming End Of 2020


Merry Christmas to all of our DnD brothers and sisters!

For those of you who struggle during Christmas, try to turn this annual event on its head, try to see Christmas as a time to celebrate all of your hard work, determination and effort that you’ve put in throughout 2020.

We could even use our disappointment as an excuse to relapse. Others may also see this as a chance for you to buy your way back into their life rather than simply earning your way back into their life with honesty, hard work, determination, reliable and responsible.

What were the highlights of the year? what things did you struggle with? What can you do differently in 2021 to make sure that they don’t hold you back in the coming year.

Christmas can be a difficult time of the year for some people as they struggle with cravings, the pressure of having family around you, living up to the perceived pressure of buying presents for others when you are having financial problems, cooking a grand meal and entertaining guests, along with many others.

However, others enjoy this time of year, being able to spend Christmas time with family and friends, sharing this annual occasion with love, laughter and happiness.


Planning New Years Eve To Welcome In 2021

The good news is that all of the tips and suggestions within this article are transferable for NYE or any other annual occasion. Including work outings, birthdays, halloween or any other.

We were creative when it came to getting what we wanted when we were in active addiction. It’s important to separate out the natural instinct for negative temptation for material gain, and using the skills and experience that you’ve developed and honed transferable skill to healthily benefit your recovery or attempt at recovery.


Having The Right Attitude & Approach To Christmas

However you experience Christmas, as a pleasure or a burden, having the right mind frame and approach towards Christmas is an integral part of getting through Christmas, while ensuring that you make the most of this time of year, however you feel about Christmas.


Our Tips & Advice

Make sure that you have a game plan for Christmas. How do you want the day to go and what do you want to achieve this Christmas? Having a plan or strategy is key in order to avoid any unexpected occurrences so that you can enjoy the occasion without panicking and trying to cope with unexpected difficulties.

This may be a written plan or just a simple, pre-thought “mental run through” of the event. However you decide to do it, make sure that your plan includes the following:

  1. Where is Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day going to take place? At your house, at someone else’s or a mixture of the two?
  2. Who is going to be there? Do you feel that anyone who will be there could be a possible trigger to use or drink?
  3. What do you need to prepare? Are others also contributing too? What do you need to get or take with you?

10 Top Tips For Those Addicted/Recovering From Alcohol

1. Start Each Day With A Plan To Fend Off Risks Of A Relapse

“An alcoholic needs to wake up each morning thinking about how to stay sober that day,” says Peter R. Martin, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee.

Once they have a plan, they should be fine for the rest of that day.” The key is staying focused on your goal of sobriety/abstinence.

Peter R. Martin, MD, A professor Of psychiatry & Pharmacology

2. Evaluate Each Situation

Rank scenarios as low, medium, or high risk for you. Having experience of identifying possible risks is a skill all addicts in recovery must learn to use instinctively

“In early recovery, spend more time in low-risk situations and try to avoid high-risk situations where absolutely possible” says Rhine. If you’re further into recovery and will be in a situation that is medium or high-risk, such as a party with an open bar or being around others who are still actively using drugs or alcohol, rely on your plan.

Arrive early and duck out a bit early. Drive yourself so that you can leave when you’re ready.

This also provides you with a good reason as to why you cannot drink if those around ask you or try to persuade you to drink. Especially if they don’t know about your addictive past.

Drink ‘n’ Drugs

Having a list of excuses or reasons as to why you can’t drink without divulging your past history is a vital skill to have. In a previous article, we looked the various ways you can tell others about your addiction whilst allowing you to keep control of how much information you give away. We also looked at 60 ways to say no when constantly being asked to drink. You can read the article here.

3. Bring The Party With You

Take along food or safe drinks that you enjoy if others don’t know that you have an addiction and don’t want to go into the reasons why you’re not drinking. For instance, if champagne or wine are a big temptation for you at a New Year’s Eve party, bring a flavored, sparkling water or safe alternative to sip as the clock counts down at midnight.

4. Know Your Triggers

Addicts should know their triggers from past experiences for relapse and how to manage them, Dr. Martin says. The most common triggers correspond to the acronym HALT — when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Take care of yourself, mentally and physically, to ward off these possible triggers.

5. Don’t Forget To Eat

Low blood sugar can leave you feeling anxious, irritable or lethargic. This, in turn, can make you feel impulsive and tempted by substances. Have a nutritious meal or snack about every three hours .

6. Keep Stress Under Control

Many people turn to alcohol or illegal substances as a way to cope with stress or negative feelings or thoughts. So when stress strikes, take a few minutes to decompress and meditate instead. Push away thoughts of substance use.

Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to act on it. They are simply that, thoughts. You then have a decision to act impulsively as you have previously or respond with positive coping strategies.

Drink ‘n’ Drugs

Make time for regular exercise. “The urge to drink alcohol or use a drug often feels physical, so giving your body something else positive to do can satisfy the craving.

Learning to respond rather than to act impulsively is what led you to developing an addiction in the first place. Using this quick, easy skill can mean the difference between recovering or relapsing. Learn how to do it by clicking here.

7. Distract Yourself

Bring along a buddy who doesn’t drink (where possible due to COVID), smoke or use drugs to help you stay clean and sober at social functions. Find an area far enough away from the bar or temptation and strike up a conversation with someone (following social distancing rules). Offer to help your host so that you stay busy with little tasks to take your mind off of the thoughts that follow.

8. Rehearse Responses

If you’re not ready to share the fact that you’re in recovery with your elderly aunt or a distant cousin at your family holiday dinner, use a discreet strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks or other substances: Create a script that you can use to decline off-limits offers. You can learn how to do this, along with 60 ways to turn down offers of alcoholic drinks by clicking here.

9. Learn to Move Past Your Cravings & Urges

A craving or urge only lasts about 20 minutes, so if you can stay strong for a short period, safe in the knowledge that they will soon pass and go away, the urge should then pass.

Move to a different setting, meditate or breathe deeply. Talk yourself out of acting on your urge by saying something like, “The reality is, I can’t stop at one drink and I can choose to have something non-alcoholic instead.” Remember how much and what is at risk if you give into your craving.

A technique called “urge surfing” can help with this process. It allows you to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts, manage them in a more positive manner without resulting to drugs or alcohol use. Find out how to use it here.

10. Lean on Your Support System

If you’re part of a support group, make time to attend a few extra meetings during these festive occasions to stay on track. If you need help finding a support group, you can find a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you. You can find their contact information on our help and support page here. Stay close with helpful friends and family and those you’ve met during throughout your recovery journey. Understand that your friends who abuse substances may have to celebrate without you this year as your health and well-being must come first!

Fellowship meetings are still happening online throughout Christmas and new year 24/7, 365 days of the year. You can find contact information for Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Cocaine Anonymous (CA) on our help and support page here.


Vital Points To Think About & Include In Your Plan

  1. Who will I be around? Do they use or drink? Do they know about your addiction and recovery? Do you need to talk to anyone prior to the event who may not know that you have a problem with substances?
  2. Where will you be? Will it be at, or near any possible locations that could be a trigger for you?
  3. What do you plan to do if you experience a trigger, craving or temptation? who can help you if this happens? What can you do to help yourself? What can you do prior to the day to reduce your chances of experiencing any problems and to mitigate any problems before they could possibly occur?

Create & Implement Your Own Personal Emergency “Addiction First Aid Kit”

Create an emergency plan or “first aid kit” for yourself, which will provide help and support if you experience any problems, cravings, urges, temptations, arguments, triggers, negative thoughts or feelings ect.

Things your first aid kit could include could be:

  • Have a walk away plan. This is somewhere where you can go should you feel like you need to get away from others, even if it’s just for 5 minutes?
  • Ask others whether they will be drinking alcohol. How can you manage this of it becomes a temptation?
  • Create a code word if you need help from someone else without letting others know something is wrong if you’re around others who aren’t aware that you have an addiction, or that you’re in recovery. This could be something as simple as using the words “turkey sandwich” or “cold weather”. This lets your partner or someone else when you’re struggling. Even if its just someone to talk to or vent to if it isn’t appropriate for certain guests to know about your addiction.
  • What can do you do take your mind off of drinking or using if it occurs? Have a written list or set reminders on your TV for various programs you would like to watch. You can also do the same with others activities. This could be can books you can read or other activities that you normally like doing. This helps to give you a few little things to look forward to throughout the day.
  • Hopefully by now you should have your MAT medication with you for the Christmas period. Remember to take it at the same time that you normally would as if this were just another normal day.
  • Make sure that you have your phone with you (as everyone pretty much does these days) or a list of contacts you can call or video call if you need someone else with experience of addictions over the festive period to talk to and who can relate to the way you think and feel.
  • If you do attend fellowship meetings normally (AA, NA or CA), remember that there will be online meetings happening throughout the day worldwide 24/7. Make sure that you have a list of meetings and times. Just because it’s Christmas Day doesn’t mean that you should change your normal daily recovery plan if you have one. If you don’t, it’s time to create one ready to pick off 2021 in the manner you wish it to continue going forward.
  • If you’re not seeing family or friends this year because of the COVID-19 lockdown, remember that your recovery or attempt at entering recovery must be your first priority. Christmas can be a balancing act to juggle perceived expectations, arguments and frayed nerves. Don’t let these issues cause you to throw away your hard work for one day out of the other 364 days of the year.

Dealing With Members Of Our Family & Friends Over Christmas

  1. Don’t be surprised at how easily family members can still press our buttons. It doesn’t mean that the “new improved you” is a sham – it’s just that these old habitual responses take longer to eliminate than others.
  2. Some family members may still be struggling to trust us, especially if you don’t see them regularly, so they still think of you as the same person you were when you were actively using or drinking. They may even decide that now is a good time to highlight our faults or bring up negative past incidents. The only way to win back their trust is by showing them the “new you” and staying committed to your new way of life. Arguing with them is unlikely to help. Doing so would only provide evidence to others that you haven’t changed at all. This is the perfect time to use your first aid kit.
  3. It is helpful to have someone neutral to turn to so that we can let off some steam at regular intervals (other people in recovery can be ideal for this).
  4. If we feel ourselves getting triggered, use your first aid kit along with mindfulness techniques and urge surfing to list just two of many. This can prevent anger boiling-over to a point where we say or do something we later regret.
  • Avoid “rising to the bait”. There are people who seem to enjoy winding up and annoying others (e.g. by bringing up hurtful or controversial topics, constantly bringing up past behaviours or incidents), especially once others have consumed alcohol. The best response is not to fall into their trap and use your first aid kit.
  • If others are getting drinking alcohol or getting drunk, it might be best to sit with the kids if their are any. This is probably going to be more fun too! This is where your prior preparation and communicating with others prior to the day can help with this.
  • Arrange to have some breaks from the family so it doesn’t become overwhelming (e.g. go for walks or to a recovery meeting) or simply find a nice relaxing location that you can escape to easily as and when you need to for even just 5 minutes of simple breathing exercises can help.
  • Offer to help prepare the meal, setting things up or even simply offer to clean up afterwards. That will not only win you some brownie points, but it can also provide a bit of a break and a distraction from any possible triggers or sticky moments you may unintentionally encounter.
  • If it all gets too much, make an excuse and leave – even if it is only a temporary break like a walk.
  • It is unreasonable and unfair to expect everyone to not drink alcohol simply because we have and had an addiction to it ourselves. However, most often when our family members know that we have a problem with alcohol, they will be discreet and respectful so that they aren’t “rubbing it in your face” so to speak. It doesn’t mean that others can’t enjoy having a drink so that they can enjoy the day just as much as you. Refer back to our preparation list and first aid kit further up the top of this article.

If you are going to use drugs and/or alcohol this Christmas. Ensure that you do it as safely as possible, with particular attention to minimising the risks associated with using and/or drinking. Check out our article on harm reduction here.

Also, remember to keep your emergency Naloxone kit to hand if you have one and ensure that at least one person knows what you’re doing and how to use the kit, should you overdose and it is needed.

Nasal Administration Version Of Naloxone
Injectable Administration Version Of Naloxone

Tips For Christmas On A Budget & What Really Counts In Your Recovery

You don’t need fancy, expensive Christmas decorations or lavish meals to have an enjoyable and memorable Christmas.

For those of us who are struggling financially, as 99% of addicts do, Christmas is a challenging time – especially if we have children or others who are dependent upon us for their care and wellbeing. There can be a sense of shame, guilt, embarrassment and sadness when we can’t buy our loved ones the presents that we feel they deserve. How can we possibly enjoy the this time of year if even buying the basic and essential ingredients for Christmas dinner is going to be a struggle, never mind also buying presents on top.

However, as corny as it may seem, the best gift we can give our family and friends this Christmas is our attention, and this won’t cost us anything. Most often, our loved ones say that us making a positive effort to change and rebuild our lives is the best present that they could want. It might sound like a platitude, but please consider this: There are plenty of children who are spoiled with gifts, yet still feel lost and miserable because their parents don’t have any time for them. Addiction and self-obsession go together, but now that we are free of drugs and alcohol, we can be present for our loved ones and give them our full attention – the gift that keeps on giving!


Ideas For Enjoying Christmas On A Budget

  • Make your own Christmas gifts (e.g. jumpers, cakes, artwork or even crafting your own homemade bath bombs or even photos in a frame. Tverni list is limited only by your imagination). You could even write a song or poem for someone special
  • Make an agreement and writing with family members to stick to an affordable limit on the amount spent on gifts and the quantity of gifts that you give per person
  • Be honest with your family about your financial situation so that they don’t have unrealistic expectations. They may even help you out if you’re struggling for money
  • Share the cost of food by arranging a communal Christmas dinner where everyone brings food ingredients for starter, main and dessert
  • Make your own Christmas decorations. Simply look on a search engine for thousands of ideas and tutorials to make your own
  • Take part in free, local activities such as carol singing or volunteering for a homeless food kitchen
  • Put the focus on traditional games like monopoly rather than expensive video games and games consoles

Why It’s Best To Avoid Going Overboard At Christmas

Even if we can afford to splash out on Christmas (or we are willing to go into debt to make it extra special), it is still best to avoid going overboard. This is especially true if our reason for investing so much in the festivities is our desire to make up for the past or win back the trust and respect of our loved ones.

The problem is that it is only by our friends and family seeing how much we have changed that they can trust us again. This change needs to be lasting.


We can’t and won’t speed-up the process by offering expensive presents gifts or lavish get-togethers. The risk is that if we do go overboard at Christmas, we could end up feeling under-appreciated, misunderstood or resentful.


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Are You Dry Drunk? Could You Have Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?


If you’ve quit drinking alcohol but are still struggling with the negative and destructive attitudes, thoughts and feelings as you did during active addiction, you may be dealing with what’s called “dry drunk syndrome” (DDS) also known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).

Originally coined by the creators of Alcoholic Anonymous, dry drunk syndrome can have a negative impact on the process of giving up drinking alcohol both physically and mentally.

While dry drunk syndrome is most common among those who quit drinking alcohol without the professional support, therapies and treatments of addiction professionals, anyone can become a dry drunk, especially during the emotionally charged first year of sobriety when you may experience intense thoughts, feelings or urges to drink.

Tip:

In a previous article, we looked at managing lapses, relapses or triggers. In our experience, one of the best techniques to manage cravings, urges or temptations to drink or use is called Urge Surfing. It helps you to manage the intense feelings you experience without resulting to drinking or using again.

Also, learning the signs and symptoms of dry drunk syndrome (DDS) as well as a few strategies to help you better cope, they can help you, a friend or someone you love to move past this stumbling block toward long lasting, happy and successful recovery.


Why Do We Experience Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?

PAWS, whether mild or serious, is a necessary process in early recovery from alcohol or other drug dependence. Think of the withdrawal syndrome as the brain’s way of correcting the chemical imbalances and changes that it’s suffered during active addiction.

PAWS occurs most commonly and intensely among individuals with alcohol and opioid addiction, as well as in people with addiction to benzodiazepines (or “benzos,” which are commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and panic attacks), heroin (an opiate) or particular medically prescribed medications.


What DDS Looks & Feels Like

When a heavy drinker starts to become addicted/dependant on drinking alcohol, their brain changes both physically and chemically. You can learn more about the science behind addiction here.

When an addict quits drinking, their brain must again, adjust to the damage that alcohol has caused throughout their body. This process can last for weeks, months, sometimes even years.

The longer an addicts remains sober/abstinent, the easier and less intense cravings or urges to drink will become until they are only brief flitting thoughts that come and go within seconds or minutes.


What Are The Most Common Signs & Symptoms Of PAWS?

In order to minimise the risk of relapse, it’s important to recognise that many of the unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations and feelings you experience in early recovery could be signs and symptoms of PAWS. It’s also important to understand that PAWS symptoms are temporary. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Foggy thinking/trouble remembering
  • Urges, cravings & temptations
  • Irritability, agitation or hostility
  • Sleep disturbances—insomnia or vivid dreams
  • Fatigue
  • Issues with fine motor coordination and delicate tasks
  • Stress sensitivity
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Depression
  • Lack of initiative or motivation
  • Impaired ability to focus on more delicate tasks
  • Mood swings
  • Thoughts of suicide or self harm

IF YOU EXPERIENCE THOUGHTS OR FEELINGS OF SUICIDE OR SELF HARM, CALL 116 123 FOR FREE FROM ALL UK MOBILES & LANDLINES OPEN 24/7, 365 DAYS OF THE YEAR.

If you experience these feelings on more than one occasion or regularly, it’s important to speak to your Doctor or GP for further help and support.

If you are not in the UK, you can use a search engine to find other charities or organisations that can provide immediate help. It’s important that if you do experience these thoughts or feelings, that you contact someone immediately and do not suffer alone as help and support is there for you to feel better!


Can Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome Be Avoided?

While avoidance of post-acute withdrawal syndrome isn’t possible, you can effectively manage your symptoms. By learning to successfully manage post-acute and acute withdrawal symptoms, you will feel better physically and emotionally, improve your self-esteem and reduce the risk of relapse.

A person dealing with side effects of PAWS actually may look like he’s intoxicated even though he’s been totally abstinent (which explains where the term “dry drunk” comes from).

Emotionally, a person dealing with PAWS may have mood swings and become depressed, making him tough to be around, maybe even as unpleasant as they might have been when they were drinking.

Alcohol used to provide temporary relief from such feelings, but now they can’t rely on that anymore.


Mental Symptoms Of PAWS

Dry drunk syndrome doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, the following symptoms can develop slowly over time, especially during the first year of recovery.

  • Self-centered or superior attitude (in 12-step circles, this is known as “terminal uniqueness)
  • Poor impulse control
  • Sour, impatient, or complacent in your recovery
  • Anger and negativity about recovery
  • Resentment toward loved ones
  • Isolating yourself from your support network
  • Increasing anxiety and depression
  • Fear of relapse
  • Jealousy of sober friends or those not dealing with addiction
  • Romanticising about prior drinking
  • Cross-addiction or abuse of other behavioural addictions such as sex, food, internet use, gambling, shopping ect

Coping With Dry Drunk Syndrome

Recovery from an alcohol use disorder (AUD) means more than simply quitting alcohol. Even after you no longer crave alcohol, you need to deal with the psychological and behavioural issues that contributed and lead you to your addiction in the first place in order to prevent relapse.

You may still be dealing with the stages of denial, anger, bargaining and depression before finally reaching the point of accepting the absence of alcohol in your life.

Some people truly experience sobriety as a kind of death and have to accept the loss and learn and grow from the experience before they can move on. You can learn more about “grieving” for the loss of your addiction in our article here.

Dry drunk syndrome interferes with this process and although challenging, with the right support, it’s not insurmountable. You may greatly benefit from the encouragement you can find at a support group meeting like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

You can also find contact information for a wide variety of groups, charities and organisations who can help you overcome your addiction by visiting our help and support page here.

There are also a few steps you can take on your own to start enjoying your new sober life as you work toward a happy, lasting recovery. They may seem simple and unsurprising, but they do work for many people.

Find A Hobby Or Interest

Take up gardening, start collecting an item you’re truly interested in or fascinated by, learn how to build things, volunteer, join a club with others who have the same interest in something or focus on the creative project. The goal is to fill the time you once spent drinking with activities that are enjoyable and engrossing.

Get Healthy

There’s no question years of drinking can take a toll on the body. A big part of recovery and your newfound sober life is making your physical health a priority.

Try healthful recipes, join a gym, take up a sport, try yoga or other mindfulness techniques (which can have mental benefits as well as physical ones). If you love dogs and don’t have one, this is a great time to adopt a stray or volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter.

Try Something New

Now that you’re no longer drinking, you have a chance to embrace your sober life and redefine your passions. Now is the time to pursue those things you’ve always wanted to learn or start ticking things off of your bucket list. If you don’t have one already, now is the perfect opportunity!

Audit a class at a local university or college, or commit to reading every book you can get your hands on about a topic you’re interested in. Whatever interests you.


Lean On Your Loved Ones

No one expects you to recover from an alcohol use disorder alone—nor should you. Even the people who you alienated before you quit drinking may welcome the opportunity to spend time with you when they see that you’re trying and making an effort to change.

Ask your partner out for regular date nights, get more involved with your grandkids, find fun activities to do with friends that don’t involve drinking., the list goes on and on…

In a previous article, we discussed ways that friends or loved ones can support addicts without enabling their addiction or addictive behaviours. You can read the article by clicking here.


A Word From Drink ‘n’ Drugs

The best way to prevent and/or cope with the physical and mental symptoms of dry drunk syndrome is to stay steadfast in your recovery.

Now isn’t the time to isolate yourself or become complacent in your sobriety, but to surround yourself with family, friends and professionals who can support you as you work to build a sober and fulfilling life for yourself. You can find contact information for a wide range of groups, charities and organisations who can help you overcome your addiction. You can find contact information for them on our help and support page here.


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    Addictions can occur in a wide variety of forms. Often, it is assumed that physical dependence characterised by withdrawal symptoms is required in order for someone to be diagnosed with an addiction use disorder, but the fact is that behavioural addiction can occur with all the negative consequences in a person’s life minus the physical issues faced by people who compulsively engage in drug and alcohol use. The rituals that occur before, during and after also make up part of the addictive process. For example, cooking heroin in a spoon and putting on a tourniquet can be just as addictive at the heroin itself. Likewise, visit the local shop, knowing that when you get home in 10 minutes, you can drink. These “preparation behaviours” are just as important to highlight and treat.
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome – Babies Born Addicts
    Pregnant women who use substances regularly (both drugs and alcohol) may deliver newborn babies who are born dependent on the same substances as their mother, because substances are passed between mother and baby through their umbilical chord. This also can affect the growth and development of the fetus, along with causing issues that will affect them throughout their later life. Find out all you need to know about NAS and more, including treatment options and help and support for those who may be/are or wanting to become pregnant, but are substance dependent or on a MAT program.