Understanding addiction: From admittance to recovery

Addiction isn’t an elusive and rare thing that happens to someone else. In reality, it’s something that affects and touches most people or families in some way and needs to be brought out into the open and discussed with compassion.

A recent study found that alcohol abuse affects as many as one in five NHS hospital inpatients. Public Health England has estimated more than one in every 100 people is alcohol dependent. Drug use and therefore dependency is widespread.  Almost one in ten people aged 16 to 59 reported they’ve taken an illicit drug in the previous 12 in recent research.

What leads to addiction?
No one has a firm and definitive answer on what leads one person to become addicted to alcohol and certain drugs whilst another is able to drink or use without becoming dependent. Some illicit drugs are highly addictive due to the chemical reactions they create in the brain and for those the process is relatively straightforward. People use them and the body generates unbearable cravings to use again.


With alcohol and some other drugs the equation is far less simple and so are the lines between dependence and recreational use. In truth, anyone who relies on alcohol or another substance to unwind, relax, sleep or enjoy themselves has some level of dependence that can become harmful. Some people believe those who become addicted are predisposed to addiction. Many see addiction as a disease that individuals are afflicted with.

Whether these are views you share or not, it is clear that if the stigma of addiction can be diminished, people who are suffering will seek help sooner. And whether they are predisposed or not, people can find ways to break the addiction cycle and live clean, sober and full, productive lives.

Addiction often grows out of attempts to control or hide away from trauma or distress. Those struggling with past abuse, emotional issues, anxiety, depression or high pressure often turn to alcohol or drugs and become addicted as they lean on those substances more and more.

Seeking help for addiction
The old adage around the act of admitting there is a problem being the first step to recovery is certainly true of addiction. Only the addicted person can make the decision to get well and drive their own recovery, though support with it will certainly help.

Just admitting the problem does not necessarily mean the right help will be forthcoming, however. There is help with addiction via the NHS and contacting your GP is a sensible first step to finding help.
Sadly, the reality is that NHS rehab budgets are stretched and services not as widely available as many feel they need to be. England has been described in recent reports as suffering from a national epidemic of alcohol-related problems due to cuts to rehab and recovery spending.

Some people will find the support they need to begin recovery in the community and via the NHS. Others turn to privately funded support in order to access the intensity of services they require in a timely way.

How does admittance to rehab come about?
Rehab is not the answer for everyone who is addicted, but it can be a lifeline for some. Rehab is often especially accessed by those people who have tried other methods of breaking their addiction and not been able to maintain sobriety long term. It provides a relatively short, sharp period of intensive support, away from day-to-day distractions and temptations.

Rehab is available via the NHS but is likely only to be offered in cases classified as the most severe. Others may benefit greatly, especially if they are able to access rehab without the waiting period that may be associated with help via the NHS.

Achieving and maintaining recovery
There are very many people who have achieved and maintained recovery from addiction. It is possible. People achieve recovery from addiction in the community with support from charities, their families, NHS services, counselling and peer groups.

Most of those who maintain recovery admit it hasn’t been easy. It takes work, persistence and sometimes periods of relapse to remain sober. Fortunately, the effort is worth it. Relationships can be rebuilt and a truer, more positive happiness and equilibrium discovered on the other side of addiction.