Cocaine FAQ

Cocaine Rehab

Can I Quit Cocaine Without Rehab?

It is possible to quit cocaine without admitting to rehab. However, it is likely that the period of abstinence achieved during this try could be short-lived [1].

A person who quits without strong support may relapse quicker, with a higher relapse rate than a person who tries to quit with professional help.


There are several reasons that count as advantages when a person attempts cocaine recovery with professional help. These advantages are:

  • – There’s a structure to follow – in a rehab clinic, schedules are maintained with and sequence of things planned out for each day stay.
  • – 24-7 Support – supervision during cocaine withdrawal provides emotional as well as medical support (if needed)
  • – There’s no access to cocaine or other substances that can hamper the recovery process, including cigarettes and alcohol.
  • – Therapy options are available, so if one method does not work, there are back-up plans
  • – Focus can be on self-improvement and self-care – this is especially true if outside the treatment, the person’s energy is largely spent attending to the needs of others
  • – New associations and friendships are made to replace relationships that encourage use of cocaine
  • – A cocaine rehab centre provides balanced nutrition often taken for granted as a factor in recovery
  • – Mental/emotional Recovery toolkit
  • – Good-quality amenities/surroundings encourage relaxation and healing
  • – Increased availability of holistic healing practices such as massage, animal-assisted therapy, reflexology, and acupuncture


Aside from the benefits, private rehab protects from harms associated with solo quitting from cocaine.

Such health risks pertain to:

  • – Physical health risks – breathing and heart problems
  • – Mental/emotional health risks – emotional turmoil, adjustment, and psychological withdrawal


In addition, in terms of psychosocial problems, there might be difficulty socialising or re-establishing relationships once the choice to stop using cocaine is made.

With therapeutic help and other types of resources available in private rehab, whole-person recovery is addressed; it is not just a matter of abstinence from cocaine.


Is There Treatment For Cocaine And Alcohol?

There is treatment available for individuals who are simultaneously struggling with cocaine and alcohol addiction.

With co-occurring problems such as this, experts approach the matter as “a complicated case” versus a “simple case” of addiction. This is due to the fact that there is multiple substance misuse on-going.


In complicated cases, inpatient rehab is recommended [2].


Evidence-based practice shows that in co-occurring substance misuse/abuse or dependency, sufferers likely to have: [3]

  • – A higher chance of staying addicted to alcohol, because alcohol heightens the effects of a cocaine high
  • – Toxicity due to cocaethylene, a chemical produced in the liver when cocaine and ethanol are both present in blood
  • – Seizure risk
  • – Liver damage risk
  • – Compromised immune system (weak resistance to disease)
  • – Stroke and heart-related problems
  • – Higher stress level, which ramps us nervousness, fearfulness and anxiety
  • – Impulsive behaviour that can lead to accidents, especially overdose


Inpatient residential rehab treatment safeguards a person’s overall health, ensuring that professional assistance is available in critical times.

Inpatient treatment also removes the possibility of access to alcohol and cocaine during the detox period, so that the new perspective (living without substances) is possible.

In contrast, outpatient treatment, although less intrusive and more affordable can be not as effective as inpatient treatment. This is especially true if there are co-occurring addictions (alcohol + cocaine).


In terms of specific psychotherapeutic approaches, two methods are widely used in cocaine addiction recovery.

These are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and 12 Step Facilitation.

Compared to other forms of supportive psychotherapy, these two are deemed more effective [4].


Will Cocaine Rehab Work?

Yes. Cocaine rehab will likely work if the following conditions are met: [1]

  • – Evidence-based practices such as 12 Step Facilitation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are utilised
  • – There is social support (from family and friends), in such a matter that is consistent, firm, and empathic
  • – Cocaine addiction is approached as a health concern with a strong behavioural component. This means that when there is a relapse, it is not treated as a failure, but as a temporary learning phase.
  • – There is personal commitment and readiness to change, even if feelings about recovery fluctuate (at times, a person can feel de-motivated about the process).


Because objective measures about the effectiveness of cocaine addiction treatment are not as clear-cut as laboratory results to measure other illnesses (such as heart disease or diabetes), there is a lack of quantitative data about rehab success rates.

However, there are qualitative (descriptions and case studies) that indicate the effectiveness of cocaine rehab as gathered by authoritative sources [2].


Individuals who improve and change continue to do so after rehab if they consistently work on the aftercare plan.

Since cocaine and/or substance use problems are largely determined by persons and situations surrounding the concerned individual, follow-through after rehab is recommended.

As preventive measures, attending regular meetings in support groups and getting in touch with addiction counsellors from time-to-time are also encouraged.


Research shows that open communication with sponsors and being active in mutual support groups counteract the possibility of relapse in cocaine addiction [5] [6].

Relapse prevention is a key component in cocaine addiction treatment approaches because the more instances of relapse, the higher the health complications become.


What Happens In Cocaine Rehab?

The three main events in drug rehab are detox, therapeutic care, and cocaine rehab aftercare.

The negative associations with rehab are largely because of the mind-set that persons who go to rehab are seriously ill.


In essence, admitting to rehab is the start of a new way of living, where the emphasis should be a return to a normal, balanced way of living.

To facilitate the return to this state of equilibrium, the whole person needs to be addressed.


The first step to restoring balance would be to remove the toxins via detox. Professionally assisted detox gives access to care 24/7, with contingencies for emergency situations.

Cocaine is stored in the body, its effects can last for quite some time, and without a detox programme that addresses withdrawal symptoms strategically, a person is apt to feel worse for wear.


In Abbeycare, the second phase, therapeutic care is handled as a personalised programme. A dedicated case manager works closely with the client to know what specific aspects of cocaine recovery need the most attention.

For therapeutic care, the approaches that appear to work best are 12 Step Facilitation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy [1].

The last major event, aftercare, pertains to a detailed programme to equip clients with techniques to stay sober long-term.


Inevitably, life would bring about challenges. Staying sober is especially taxing for those who are still adjusting to new ways of handling stress.

Identification of triggers, helpful numbers to call, and a sponsor are details that usually appear in an aftercare plan.


More so, a capable rehab clinic would assert the crucial aspect of having concrete plans covering day-to-day matters.

As part of cocaine recovery, aftercare supports rehab clients socially and emotionally, with a future-oriented outlook.


Where Can I Get Cocaine Rehab For Free?

The NHS provides cocaine rehab for free, but the outpatient option is more available than inpatient care.


Outpatient care entails the following: [2]

  • – Being able to leaver the facility to attend to personal matters
  • – Access to health care professionals on a case-to-case basis
  • – Emotional and psychological support via psychotherapy/ group meetings



For outpatients, attending mutual support group meeting is commonplace. These meetings are run by:

  • – SMART Recovery (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
  • – Save Our Selves
  • – Women for Sobriety (WFS)
  • – Addaction
  • – Cocaine Anonymous


Mutual support group meetings are helpful in encouraging recovery efforts after rehab, but attending meetings is not the same as therapy for cocaine dependence/substance abuse.

Both outpatient and inpatient rehab incorporate therapeutic care and counselling into their treatment designs.

In short, participating in mutual support groups lowers the odds of relapse form cocaine recovery treatment, but they should not be the sole source of cocaine addiction recovery [5].


As an intensive form of rehab, inpatient care helps stop relapse by enabling the client to be skilled in: [5]

  • – Distinguishing the difference between thoughts about using versus mental relapse
  • – Normalising thoughts of using, which are normal thoughts that enter the mind about using cocaine again, although these thoughts will not be acted out in reality
  • – Recognising signs of mental relapse, where an individual begins to think of schemes when it is permissible to use again
  • – Halting plans for relapse opportunities (going to places where there will be little to no access to sponsors/accountability partners/counsellors)
  • – Stopping the rationalisation of switching cocaine for another addictive substance (such as cigarettes, food, or behavioural addictions)
  • – Training to pinpoint situations where emotional triggers are present and may be overwhelming


Although available in outpatient care, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in residential care can be better in revealing fears feed the addiction.

These irrational fears are deep-seated, and may only surface after extended, consistent sessions with an addictions expert.

These fears are typified as: [5]

  • – Fear of not being good enough
  • – Fear of failure in life
  • – Fear of feeling like a fraud/fake
  • – Fear of not knowing how to function without cocaine


Lastly, the steady, protective environment of cocaine rehab residential rehab can be the determining factor in cases where cocaine addiction is serious and needs particular care [7].



  1.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). How is cocaine addiction treated? Retrieved from:
  2.   NHS. (2017). Cocaine addiction: get help. Retrieved from:
  3.   Dasgupta, A. (2017). Cocaethylene. Alcohol, Drugs, Genes and the Clinical Laboratory. Retrieved from:
  4.   Melemis, S. (2015). Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. Yale J Biol Med., 88(3), 325–332. Retrieved from:
  5.   Melemis, S. (2015). Relapse Prevention and the Five Rules of Recovery. Yale J Biol Med., 88(3), 325–332. Retrieved from:
  6.   Public Health England. (2015). Improving mutual aid engagement. Retrieved from:
  7.   NHS. (2017). Drug addiction: getting help. Retrieved from:

Largs (Scotland)

Largs, Scotland

Anyone that hasn’t yet decided where to go for a vacation should think about visiting Scotland – more specifically visit the small town under the sea, Largs.

Largs is one of most interesting places in Scotland. It is situated on the Ayrshire shore.

Spectacular scenery with islands on the west and waving hills on the east are bringing thousands of tourists every year that are willing to see the beauty of this place.

This small city combines in it selves the atmosphere of relax that is connected with friendly and open people with positive energy of the holiday spa.

We can find here bars, cafes, restaurants and interesting place to go, of course if we have enough of those fabulous landscapes. Of course, there is always golf there for people who like spending time active.

Thing that all tourist that are visiting Largs must see is Vikingar where dressed up story tellers are retelling history of Vikings in Scotland again and again.

Largs holds many sentimental values for native Scots and Americans alike who can trace their ancestry back to the beautiful country. The beautiful town of Largs is filled with centuries of Viking history.

The beautiful city is by far known one of the most beautiful places for tourism. We are going to indulge in some of this city’s most historical monuments, which stand today as if they were just put there only a few years back.

Consequently these monuments have seen for centuries past and hold some secrets of Scotland’s beginnings.


History of Largs

The name for the city of Largs is taken from a Greek word meaning grassy slope. For anyone who has the pleasure to have been or who resides in Scotland, the name Largs is the perfect explanation for Scotland in general.

One of the most famous monuments that stand in Largs today is known as the Pencil Monument. The monument was built in 1912 to recall the Battle of Largs in 1263. This battle is important to many Scotland natives, because it was in this battle that the Scotland defeated Norway’s troops on the shore of this great city.


The 3 sisters is a monument dedicated to Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane. This monument was once used as an observatory for Brisbane.

It was in this observatory he was able to distinguish where the North Star was even at times when he could not visually see it.


The Prophets Grave is where Rev. William Smith was buried. The famous reverend was a minister of the town of Largs when the famous plague broke out and claimed his life amongst many others. Many people are scared of the old time myths that encircle the reverends place of rest.

The myth states that if the two trees that are at the entrance of the great reverends grave are ever to touch the plague and possibly the end of all humanity will return.

Within Douglas Park, you will find an important historical find that dates back to 3000 BC. This tomb is known as the Neolithic Tomb which is where the Beaker people of ancient Scotland lay to rest.

Places of Interest


Vikingar is the most famous place in Largs where storytellers will guide you through 500 years of Viking history. Late in the year there’s an annual festival where there’s also a chance to see how they lived in an authentic 13th-century village.

Pencil Walk

While visiting Largs you should take a stroll along the promenade all the way to the Pencil, a striking monument that commemorates the Battle of Largs. Using this monument us a great way to take in the views of Great Cumbrae and Arran beyond.

Kelburn Castle

You can also pay a visit to the ancestral home of the hereditary Earls of Glasgow. Where it is thought to be the oldest castle in Scotland to have been continuously inhabited by the same family, its wildly painted walls have to be seen to be believed.

Largs Beach

The small town of Largs is a traditional holiday resort and boasts a lovely beach backed by amusement arcades and a Victorian promenade. You can find a couple of great fish and chip shops and, of course, the best ice cream parlours.

Brisbane Glen and Three Sisters

This monument was named after the astronomer Sir Thomas Brisbane, the Glen is a fantastic spot for birdwatching. And as we’ve said before, the Three Sisters monument commemorates him and the work he did building the observatory at Brisbane House.

Largs Marina

For those who can’t quite afford a yacht to moor at Largs Marina, it’s still well worth having a look round. You can find small tour operators who offer boat trips from here or you could try your hand at watersports such as jet skiing.


This place is one if the most popular restaurants is Largs, it’s the winner of the 2013 Scottish food award for the best family restaurant, and it does great pizza and pasta, along with favourites such as steak pie and fish and chips.


People Of Interest

Notable people in Largs are:

Thomas Parkhill Barbour was a Scottish professional footballer who played as a wing half or full back. He played in the Football League for Derby County and Darlington

Brigadier Sir John Smith Knox Boyd, was a Scottish bacteriologist and a senior officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC).


Twin Town

The town of Andernos-les-Bains is a commune in the Gironde department in southwest France is a located on the northeast shore of Arcachon Bay.

To its northwest is the town of Arès. This town has the same name with it’s Scottish counterpart.


Weather & Climate

• On average, the warmest month is July.
• On average, the coolest month is January.
• September is the wettest month. This month should be avoided if you are not a big fan of rain!
• April is the driest month.


What’s Nearby

Mount Stuart House and Gardens

This monument was created in 1719, but a fire in 1877 saw the building severely damaged though much of the contents survived. Some time later, the 3rd Marquess of Bute had already commissioned Robert Rowand Anderson to make extensive alterations before the fire.


Rothesay Castle

The castle was built to an unusual circular plan, Rothesay Castle had a long and close association with the Stewart Kings of Scotland.


Rothesay Pavilion

The Pavilion is a Grade A Bauhaus-inspired building that was opened in 1938, designed by JA Carrick, and is undergoing major refurbishment including the addition of a second performance space and a gallery.

There are lots of things that we can appreciate at Largs, but it is also a great place to start the trip to other parts of Scotland. Only packing left and booking a flight and we have a terrific holiday destination – country of beautiful landscapes, kilts and great whisky.

7 Sobriety Rewards You’ll Never Regret



These seven rewards of sobriety are felt as soon as a month after the decision to quit alcohol or illicit drugs.

Behavioural experts agree that in medium to long-term sobriety, which lasts from 3 months to several years, individuals begin to develop new habits.

Mental and emotional health becomes more robust as the individual becomes a more mature person.

Meaningful Connections

In rehab, there is emphasis on attending meetings after the period of staying in the facility is over.

It is emphasised again and again, “the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection.”


It has become an accepted truth that one of lures of addictive substances is its power to obliterate hard-to-face emotions, especially those that require interacting with other persons.


Alcohol is widely known as a social lubricant. Drugs have been used to avoid painful human interactions.

These substances have been used to mask discomfort, especially in social situations.

Ingesting them can help a person become smoother in conversation, being more at ease even when tense.


When sober, social tension is something that a person has to deal with. It may become apparent that without the drink or drug, the relationship dynamic needs to change.

Or the relationship has to be let go altogether. Some persons who begin their sober living journeys are able to let go of toxic relationships, in order to have healthier ones.


Courageous Stance in Life

Individuals start to adopt a more courageous stance in life after sobriety because they have to face the wreckage their addiction has caused. Facing the truth is painful.

It is punctuated with missed events, memory lapses, recollections of things full of regret.


When a person realises that there is a series of things left neglected because of addiction, the feeling might be overwhelming.

However, once the commitment has been made to change, tacking the long list of tasks to correct becomes a therapeutic endeavour—especially if the person is emotionally supported.


It may be tempting to turn away from the pain once again, but to continue along the path of oblivion is not real living.

Individuals who decide to begin sober living do not want to go through the motions of living. Instead, no matter how painful, these individuals soldier on.


Setting Personal Boundaries

Your life as a person with addiction can be described as haphazard. At one point in time, this indiscriminate way of living and doing thing could be described as fun.

But after experiencing the stability (usually while in detox and rehab), something in you changed.


It does seem to feel better when there are schedules to follow, rules to adhere to, and personal boundaries to observe.

Because addiction is an all-or-nothing experience, many persons with addiction have found themselves at the bottom of the barrel, holding on to the last dregs of self-respect.


It takes a while to learn self-respect again. After being the worse version of yourself, admitting you have gone real low, it takes a while to let go of hating yourself.

When you set personal boundaries you are basically creating self-protective measures—and these measures are expressions of self-care.


Developing Empathy and Compassion

Once you get in touch with the worse parts of yourself and you’ve started working on self-forgiveness, you begin to forgive others too. Addiction can have its roots in trauma and adverse childhood experiences.

These negative experiences can include neglect and abuse, often by persons who were supposed to show love and kindness.


Individuals who are overwhelmed with pain usually do not have the capacity for compassion. It is not selfishness, it is mere survival. In this light, the addiction was the most logical way to cope with the emotional and mental anguish.


But once the pain abates as the person becomes better at coping with stress without substances, empathy begins to take root.

You get to appreciate the little things your loved ones did for while you were in recovery, how they treated you kindly, with little judgement. How they were there in your lowest points. You would like to return that given grace.


Emotional Resilience

Moodiness, irritability, easily angered, glum all the time. Some of these words describe the emotional states of emotional instability. In mental health literature, it is a stated fact that persons with alcohol and/or drug use problems have emotional problems alongside.


Particularly, these emotional problems refer to mood regulation. Some individuals have depression, some have anxiety, and some have other conditions such as bipolar mood disorder. There is an assertion that the use of substances was an effort to self-medicate.


If a person sought professional help for addiction issues, moods can be regulated with the help of psychotherapeutic techniques and medication.

It’s not a one-size-fits all solution, but most persons who have emotional problems and substance abuse problems do get better.


Being able to let small things slide, picking up the pieces after an emotional blow, coping with changes quickly, not taking things personally. These are the words that  describe an emotionally stable personality.


Increased Patience

From emotional resilience comes increased patience. You learn to wait, and know you will have your turn.

Having learned the initial steps of sobriety, a person begins to build a fund for accepting the unknown, and with acceptance, there is patience instead of overwhelming distress.

Discussed in the next benefit is one of the hardest qualities to develop related to embracing the unknown.


Tolerance for Ambiguity/ Uncertainty

Addiction is dependence on an outer source of power. To get you through the day, the night, something is needed. Relying on yourself seems unstable, uncertain. To fill in the gaps, you need the substance.


During recovery, individuals learn techniques to live with the uncertain parts of life. These uncertain parts, these questions, usually trigger fear.

And it is this fear that drives the desperation to cling on to the chosen addiction, be it alcohol, illicit drugs, or certain negative behaviours.


As ambiguity becomes something that can be tolerated, the fear it triggers lessens. The insecurity dissipates in time.

Having sure footing even if the path is unsure, even if you do not know where is heading is one of the best feelings a person can have. This is especially true when the unfamiliar previously meant danger and harm.


Drug Types FAQ

drug types

What Are The 4 Types Of Drugs?

In terms of the four types of drugs most commonly abused in the UK, these are: Cannabis, Cocaine, Ecstasy, and Ampethapmines. [1]

In terms of the four groups of drugs classifed according to their major effects, these are: stimulants, depresants, opioids, and hallucinogens.

Another way of classifying drugs uses the Drugs Wheel model [2].


The Drugs Wheel replaces the 4 types of drugs with 7 categories.

These 7 types of drugs are: [3]


  • >> Desired effects: Can make a person feel relaxed or euphoric (high)
  • >> Negative effects: distorted recognition of things seen, heard or felt; poor body coordination; memory; difficulty paying attention
  • >> Examples of drugs: Cannabis (Marijuana, Hash, Skunk); Synthetic Cannabis (Spice)



  • >> Desired effects: Can make a person feel more awake or alert; increases energy
  • >> Negative effects: Aggressiveness, fearfulness, and paranoid feelings.
  • >> Examples of drugs: methamphetamine (Ice), cocaine, amphetamines (Adderall; Dexedrine)



  • >> Desired effects: Feeling “loved and connected”; sexual arousal
  • >> Negative effects: low feelings 2-5 days later, careless behaviour (especially sexual behaviour), dehydration
  • >> Examples of drugs: MDMA (Ecstacy), Mephedrone (Meow meow), Ethylone


Hallucinogens or Psychedelics

  • >> Desired effects: Euphoria, feeling relaxed, feeling spriritually connected
  • >> Negative effects: Upsetting hallucinations (seeing/experiencing things that are not factually present), high level of anxiety
  • >> Examples of drugs: LSD, Psilocybin (Magic Mushroom), Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)



  • >> Desired effects: Euphoria, feeling disconnected from self, can cause relaxation, has a calming effect
  • >> Negative effects: Panic attacks; abnormal sense of smell and taste; disturbing hallucinations
  • >> Examples of drugs: Nitrous Oxide (Laughing Gas), Ketamine, Methoxetamine (MXE)



  • >> Desired effects: Can relieve anxiety, has a calming effect
  • >> Negative effects: Can cause confusion, slurred speech, and lack of body coordination
  • >> Examples of drugs: Alcohol, benzodiazepines (Valium), GHB (often referred to as a “date rape” or “chemsex” drug)



  • >> Desired effects: Relieves pain, euphoria
  • >> Negative effects: Dependence and/or tolerance to prescription painkillers means the person needs more of the drug just to feel normal; high risk of fatal overdose
  • >> Examples of drugs: Buprenorphine, Methadone, Oxycodone, Codeine, Fentanyl, Morphine, Opioid Medications



Using the 7 types of Drugs in the Drugs Wheel, it is most useful to health care professionals [4].

Proper classification of drugs according to their major effects helps professionals quickly assess an emergency situation.

In times when overdose or drug complications and/or adverse interactions are suspected, prompt action is needed.



Harm strategies can also be formulated by consulting the Drugs Wheel. These harm reduction strategies include:

  • >> Needle distribution and/or recovery programs
  • >> Substitution therapies like Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program and Heroin Assisted Treatment
  • >> Take-home naloxone (overdose kit) program
  • >> Outreach and education services to encourage safer drug use behaviour
  • >> Drink Driving prevention campaigns



The Drugs Wheel was created in 2012 in response to the popularity of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), mistakenly labelled as “Legal Highs”.

NPS or “Legal High” drugs were often marketed as “not safe for human consumption”.

Synthetic cannabinoid addiction more commonly known as Fake Weed/ or Spice Addiction poses a significant threat to the public, especially the young adult population. [5]


What Are Some Examples Of Prescription Drugs?

Co-codamol (for pain), Citalopram Hydrobromide (anti-depressant), and Diazepam or Valium (anti-anxiety) are the three most common prescription drugs in the UK [6].

Prescription drugs are given after a health care practitioner follows the following steps: [7]

Definition of the person’s health care problem (also called diagnosis)

Specifying the therapeutic objective – these can be: [8]

  • >> Promoting health
  • >> Preventive care
  • >> Treatment of the condition
  • >> Rehabilitation (support for recovery from illness)
  • >> Palliative care
  • >> Choosing a treatment that is known as effective and safe

Starting the treatment

Writing a prescription (script) for medicines

Providing the individual with the health concern the answers to the following questions:  [7]

  • >> 1. What are the effects of the drug?
  • >> 2. What are the possible side effects?
  • >> 3. What are the specific instructions?
  • >> 4. Are there warnings about the drug?
  • >> 5. When is the next/ future consultation?
  • >> 6. Is everything clear about the instructions?



For clarity, health care authorities need to make sure that persons seeking their care understand the essential information about the drug.

Sometimes, health care personnel ask individuals under their care to repeat the crucial information because it is believed that by saying it out loud, the person has processed the information correctly.



After prescribing medicines, health care practitioners are instructed to:

  • >> Monitor the results of the drug used as a therapeutic measure
  • >> Determine when the person has improved and needs to stop using the drug
  • >> Discern whether there is a need to change dosage, drug type, or intake regimen



The follow-up session with the health care practitioner is designed to facilitate the evaluation of the health status of the individual.

Skipping the process or self-medicating is not recommended.

Likewise, if there are signs of psychological dependence on prescription medicines, the health care practitioner must be alerted.



During the follow-up session, the health care practitioner should be able to tell if:

  • >> Treatment is effective
  • >> Treatment is ineffective



In the US, there are government efforts to curb the unnecessary prescription of opioid painkillers, as these are considered highly addictive. [9]

In the UK, the use of opioid painkillers is tightly regulated. [10]


Although the country is not as seriously affected as the US in terms of the so-called opioid epidemic, prescriptions for opioid-based painkillers have increased significantly for the past few years. [10]

The top selling prescription medicines in the UK are: [6]

  • >> Codeine (Co-codamol) – for pain (headaches/migraines, muscular pain, toothache)
  • >> Citalopram Hydrobromide – for depression and panic disorder
  • >> Amitriptyline Hydrochloride – for pain and migraine



In addition, morphine and morphine-like painkillers, called opioid painkillers are also increasingly prescribed [11].

Examples of opioid pain killers are Tramadol, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.


These painkillers are proven effective in treating the following conditions: [12].

  • >> Orthopaedic pain (for pain affecting the knee, hips, ankles, shoulders, hand and spine)
  • >> Dental conditions
  • >> Upper and lower back pain
  • >> Headaches and/or migraines
  • >> Cancer pain (especially breakthrough pain)
  • >> Post-operative pain



Although proven effective, using opioid painkillers can be addictive [11].

Individuals who develop a problem using opioid medications can detox safely in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare to prevent risky withdrawal symptoms.

What Are Examples Of Drugs?

Examples of drugs used for recreational purposes, often illegally, are cocaine, heroin, cannabis (marijuana), diazepam (Valium), and Etizolam.

These drugs are the most common type of drugs seized by law authorities in Scotland. [13]


Behaviourists argue that the problematic use of illicit drugs is rooted in trauma, particularly adverse childhood experiences. [14]

For some individuals, the first step of recovery is by going through a detox programme in a reputable rehab clinic like Abbeycare Gloucester.

Therapists and addiction experts believe that using drugs became a valid coping mechanism to deal with stress.


Usually, the connection between stress relief/coping and drug use was made when the individual was most vulnerable.

It is highly possible that drug dependence/misuse is a symptom, and not the major problem the individual is experiencing.

By learning better ways to cope, becoming emotionally conversant, and building resilience, a person can break free from addiction.


Such new skills, self-insight, and understanding are best learned in psychotherapy.

Abbeycare Rehab Scotland incorporates psychotherapeutic lessons covering these topics in its residential drug and alcohol rehab programmes.


Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment: The Issue of Negative Experiences

Updated approaches in addiction treatment acknowledge the fact that drug misuse could be a symptom of: [14]

  • >> Traumatic experiences
  • >> Physical Abuse
  • >> Sexual Abuse
  • >> Emotional Abuse
  • >> Parental neglect
  • >> Abandonment
  • >> Social disapproval/ rejection/ bullying


These experiences are best explored in a structured environment with a counsellor or behavioural expert.

Issues surrounding these experiences tend to bring up strong emotions.

Under emotional stress, a person who is prone to misuse drugs can worsen, using the substance more as a way to cope.


The reason why exploring these deep-impact issues is done in a structured environment is to provide support.

Professional help can be crucial in gently nudging a person towards life-long recovery.

Additionally, effective therapeutic measures involve commitment, bolstered by family and community support.


When a treatment centre focuses on holistic care, there should be an emphasis on after-care provisions.

After-care means individuals in recovery must maintain their connections with supportive persons via attending Mutual Support Group meetings and/or continual communication.


Drug and/or Alcohol Treatment: Childhood and Family Matters

One of the major issues connected to adult drug misuse is the experience of negative childhood experiences.

When a person grows up with adverse childhood conditions, these conditions have a long-lasting impact.

If the child’s environment is one where the use of alcohol and/or drugs is accepted as a valid way to cope, the chance that the child will misuse addictive substances greatly increases.


Further, persons whose parents are heavy users of alcohol and/or illicit substances can inherit the genes predisposing a person to substance abuse.

But inheriting the tendency for alcohol and/or drug misuse is not destiny itself.


Some mitigating of the tendency to use addictive substances are: [15]

  • >> Psychoeducation in proactive schools or communities
  • >> Preventive actions by concerned individuals and/or significant others
  • >> Positive social influences or role models
  • >> The individual’s conscious decision to steer clear of addictive substances
  • >> Strong self-control as a behavioural or personal trait


Because nobody wants to be burdened with passing on the negative legacy of addiction, strategies for parents who have substance abuse issues include: [15]

  • >> Parental monitoring and supervision
  • >> Authoritative rule-setting
  • >> Monitoring youths’ activities
  • >> Praise for appropriate use of so-called gateway substances (cigarettes and/or alcohol)
  • >> Consistent discipline
  • >> Logic-based and empathy-based family rules




  1.   European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2019). United Kingdom Country Drug Report. Available at:
  2.   Scottish Drug Forum. (2019). The Drugs Wheel: A new model for substance awareness. Available at:
  3.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Want to Know More? Some FAQs about Marijuana. Available at:
  4.   Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2019). Drug Wheel. Available at:
  5.   Barnes, T. (2018, 29 August). Spice should be upgraded to Class A drug, say police and crime commissioners. The Independent. Available at:
  6.   Mattews, S. (2018). A nation of pill poppers: Record 1.1 BILLION prescriptions written in 2017 as figures reveal the 20 most popular drugs but critics slam the NHS for spending millions on paracetamol. Daily Mail Online. Available at:
  7.  World Health Organization – WHO. (2010). Guide to Good Prescribing: A practical Manual. Available at:
  8.  University Van Pretoria. Community Oriented Primary Care (COPC). Available at:
  9.  Nat National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2016). Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Available at:
  10.  Britton, R. (2019, September 10). The UK is dangerously close to having a full-blown opioid crisis. Independent. Available at:
  11.  Owens, B. (2015, June 11). Tackling prescription drug abuse. The Pharmaceutical Journal.
  12.  Janakiram, C. et al. (2019). Opioid Prescriptions for Acute and Chronic Pain Management Among Medicaid Beneficiaries. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 57(3), 365-373. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.04.022. Available at:
  13.  Scottish Publci Health Observatory. (2016). Drug misuse: availability and prevalence. Available at:
  14.  Hart, C. L. (2016). Prioritize People and their Complexities Over Drugs. [Powerpoint Slides].
  15.  National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2001). Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents. Available at:

Rehab Clinic FAQ

Rehab Clinic

What Is The Purpose Of A Rehabilitation Centre?

The main goal of a rehabilitation centre is to enable a person to live a sober lifestyle by completing treatment in a residential, supported, and supervised environment.

This goal can be achieved by:

  • >> Learning new behaviours
  • >> Understanding the motivations behind addiction
  • >> Professionally assisted detox
  • >> Evidence-based therapy and counselling


The rehab process helps individuals achieve the goals of rehab.

The process of rehab comes in four phases. These are: [1]

  • Phase One – Assessment
  • Phase Two – Detoxification
  • Phase Three – Rehabilitation
  • Phase Four – Maintenance or Aftercare



In the health care profession, the term “rehabilitation” encompasses intensive measures to help a person recuperate from serious injury or harm [2].

Under this context, “Alcohol Rehabilitation” and “Drug Rehabilitation” can be understood as intensive, supervised regimens or schedules.


Activities in rehab programs are specifically designed by experts to:

  • >> Lessen the negative impact of alcohol and/or substance abuse – help with withdrawal symptoms
  • >> Assist in the transition period – from a compromised state of health to a more balanced state of being
  • >> Normalise the transition period by providing psychosocial support –through encouragement, companionship and communicating genuine concern



It is understood that individuals attending rehab are in the centre for many reasons, most of these reasons are particular to the individual, and may not be easy to explain.

However, persons who seek treatment in rehab generally want to get better.


Trusting the rehab centre to provide them quality care possible, they expect positive outcomes such as:

  • >> New ways to cope with life’s demands (without alcohol and/or drugs)
  • >> Lower relapse rate
  • >> Continuing aftercare support
  • >> A better chance of sober living, as rehab is not an instant cure


What Type Of Care Does A Rehabilitation Facility Provide?

A rehab facility usually provides residential care, where individuals stay for a fixed amount of time.

Some rehabs also provide out-patient care; and some rehabs are halfway or sober living houses.

A rehab clinic like Abbeycare Scotland work closely with community-based programs like Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, and other recovery groups.


While most individuals go to rehab to experience structured care, some opt to stay for the detox programme only.

For persons who go for “Detox Only”, the programme consists of:

  • >> Monitoring of withdrawal symptoms
  • >> Availability of health care assistance
  • >> Treatments to ease symptoms (prescribed by health care workers)


Most reputable rehab centres will recommend a stay of at least 28 days.

A 28-day stay means a person does not just drug or alcohol detox. S/he is also given the opportunity to learn new skills in a safe and supportive environment.

In some instances when a person has a mild case of alcohol and/or substance use problem, a rehab centre can offer home detox treatment.


In the UK, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) rates residential rehabs according to how well the facility provides care.

Dependable rehab facilities make sure that standards are maintained throughout the whole process of rehab.

A rehab that gives quality care should: [3]

  • >> Provide person-centred care
  • >> Treat clients with dignity and respect
  • >> Watch out for clients’ privacy, safety, and security
  • >> Be transparent in dealings with clients
  • >> Must have adequate equipment
  • >> Must have well-trained and competent staff



A clinic rated as “Good” such as Abbeycare can capably assist persons to live a sober life.

In order to help a person kick the habit of alcohol or drug misuse for good, a rehab facility would usually encourage clients to go for a full programme, and not just “a quick detox”.

It scientifically proven that by going through the four phases of rehab, persons will be able to make profound changes about their relationship with alcohol and/or drugs [4].


Alcohol and drug addiction can be treated, but because addiction is a chronic disease with a lifestyle component, treatment needs to be: [4]

  • >> Comprehensively designed
  • >> Professionally managed
  • >> Take special care of “first timers” as a good first encounter with rehab prevents relapse
  • >> Watches out for the long-term recovery of the client
  • >> Has provisions for long-term/repeated care in case of serious cases


It is unrealistic to expect a person to fully recover from addiction just because s/he stopped using the substance for a short while, especially without professional support.


What Are Different Types Of Rehab?

In terms of Alcohol Rehab and Drug Rehab, the types of rehab are Inpatient/ Residential and Outpatient Rehab.

Inpatient or Residential Rehab refers to a type of care where the client is prescribed a set number of days, staying in the facility to receive treatment and participate in therapeutic activities.

Whereas Outpatient Rehab is a type of care where clients come to the clinic in scheduled times for less-intensive forms of treatment.


Inpatient or Residential Rehab tends to benefit all levels of alcohol and/or substance abuse conditions, while Outpatient Rehab is more suited to persons with fewer symptoms [5].

The term “rehab” can also mean “Rehabilitation Therapy”, which encompasses the disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Physical Therapy, among other similar practices.

In the field of health care, the term “rehabilitation” is aimed at assisting persons to function as well as they can after a serious injury or illness.


It is apt to designate alcohol and drug use problems in the realm of rehabilitative care, as problems with alcohol and drug use are health concerns.

It is considered best practice to treat individuals who have alcohol and/or substance problems with open-minded understanding that these conditions are caused by factors outside their control.

Seeking help for alcohol and/or substance concerns is seen as a positive step as being ready to change is already taxing to an individual with this type of burden.


Additionally, individuals with alcohol and/or substance to be triggered when stressed [6].

Deciding to go enter rehab can be considered stressful, as the decision can instigate a number of lifestyle changes.

To help persons who are new to the process of recovery, a rehab clinic should be able to:

  • >> Gently but firmly introduce new habits
  • >> Put in place procedures so that the person knows where to go and what to do when s/he has reached their limits
  • >> Help clients identify their weaknesses and strengths
  • >> Utilise a treatment plan answer the characteristic needs of the client
  • >> Carefully map out an after-rehab strategy.


Generally speaking, though the NHS provides inpatient programs for free, admission to a private rehab clinic like Abbeycare causes less hassle.

In general, private rehab care can be more accommodating to clients, with the added advantage of providing continuous and personalised care.


What’s An Inpatient Programme?

An inpatient programme is a structured program designed to help a person overcome alcohol and/or drug addiction problems.

An inpatient programme offers detox, therapy and rehab aftercare as a complete package, whereas an outpatient program can be limited to counselling services only.


A residential rehab programme can be held in a government-run healthcare facility or in a private rehab centre.

An example of a private rehab centre that offers residential programmes to recover from alcohol and/or drug addiction is Abbeycare Clinic, with two locations in Scotland and Gloucester.

What Is Outpatient Counselling?

Outpatient counselling is done when a person who has alcohol and/or drug addiction problems chooses to deal with the concern outside a residential rehab centre or outside an inpatient programme.

Outpatient counselling generally means attending Mutual Support Group Meetings.

Outpatient counselling is not the full treatment for alcohol and/or drug addiction problems.


However, since outpatient counselling is usually free of charge, this is the go-to measure for persons who have financial issues with the cost of private rehab.

The most popular groups that offer outpatient counselling in the UK are: [7]

  • >> Alcoholics Anonymous
  • >> Narcotics Anonymous
  • >> SMART Recovery
  • >> Addaction
  • >> Adfam
  • >> Release
  • >> Smart Recovery
  • >> DrugFAM


In the public health care system, outpatient counselling is part of the recommended treatment for those who seek help from addiction problems.

A local drug centre will usually provide a client needed medications, then refer the client to a Mutual Support Group meeting.

A case worker from the local drug centre typically manages the case of the client, tacking the client’s progress as s/he tries to overcome addiction concerns.


However, keeping track of a person’s progress from attending outpatient counselling sessions can be tricky.

Because feedback is usually one-sided, a case worker may not get the most accurate information about how the client is progressing.


Two of the key factors of success in recovery are: [6]

  • >> Support – means social support, financial support, and encouragement
  • >> Structure – means an orderly routine to stick to where a person is compelled to follow


These two key elements may not be optimal in outpatient counselling, where attendance is usually voluntary and not monitored strictly.

Another way in which outpatient counselling is used is when it is an add-on to a long-term recovery program.

Some individuals who undergo an Inpatient or Residential Program are guided towards using outpatient counselling for three to six months, until they are more likely to withstand the challenges of recovery.


As part of a long-term treatment for alcohol and/or substance abuse, outpatient counselling can help anchor a person to their fundamental decision to stay sober.

There is weighty evidence to show that outpatient counselling benefits persons who are have already begun the process of change—the social aspect of outpatient counselling can be considered in this sense as the most valuable aspect [8].



  1.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says. Available at:
  2.   Medline Plus. (2016). Rehabilitation Also called: Rehab. Available at:
  3.   Care Quality Commission. The fundamental standards. Availale at:
  4.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Available at:
  5.   Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – SAMHSA-US. (2006). Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs. Available at:
  6.   Fournier, D. (2017, December 11). Fundamental Factors of Success in Addiction Recovery. Psychology Today. Retrieved from:
  7. NHS. (2019). Alcohol support. Available at:
  8. Lopez, G. (2018, January 2). Why some people swear by Alcoholics Anonymous — and others despise it. Vox. Available at:

Alcohol Withdrawal FAQ

alcohol withdrawal

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

To stage an intervention, set an appropriate time and place, prepare the r

Expect alcohol withdrawal symptoms to last an average of 5 days. [1]

Heavy consumption of alcohol and long-term alcohol use are both linked to longer withdrawal times.


Generally speaking, withdrawal symptoms do not feel good.

But with proper information and support, unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be overcome.

Common withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are:

  • >> Shaking/ tremors
  • >> Nausea/ vomiting
  • >> Insomnia
  • >> Anxiety
  • >> Headaches
  • >> Excessive sweating



More serious withdrawal symptoms include those that point towards:

  • >> Delirium Tremens (“the DTs”)
  • >> Epilepsy (including tonic-clonic seizures that are described as similar to epilepsy)
  • >> Hallucinations (seeing, hearing, and otherwise sensing things that are not really present)
  • >> “Wet Brain” or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome



Formally, the condition associated with alcohol withdrawal is called Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). [2]

The AWS condition ranges from Mild, Moderate, or Severe.

Health care professionals diagnose Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) using a scale called CIWA-Ar, blood tests, and sometimes a toxicology procedure.


A mild case of AWS usually determined when the person has a low collective score in the categories defined by diagnostic tests.

A moderate case of AWS means the person is at risk of developing serious symptoms, and it would be best if they seek professional care.


A severe case of AWS is where a person experiences Delirium Tremens. DT is suspected when there is:  [3]

  • >> Mental Confusion
  • >> Hallucinations
  • >> Feeling disoriented/lost even in familiar everyday surroundings
  • >> Difficulty thinking and reason clearly
  • >> Long-term problems with memory about present events and past events



With severe cases of AWS, detoxing without professional support is not recommended as the risks are grave.

Individuals who have a serious case of AWS have a 4 to 6.6% fatality rate compared to persons who have milder cases. [4]

In addition, it is well recognized that professionally supervised detox contributes to a better outcome than detoxing alone [4].

However mild the case, withdrawal from alcohol use poses some risks, especially if there are signs that Delirium Tremens can happen.


Delirium Tremens is usually associated with heavy drinking that has gone on for many years [3].

Delirium Tremens can develop 1 to 4 days in the most vulnerable individuals.

Because alcohol withdrawal can be stressful, some individuals even if they do not have AWS, opt to go to a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare Scotland to detox from alcohol.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

An average of 5 days is the usual amount of time some alcohol withdrawal symptoms last. [1]

A typical time-line for alcohol withdrawal symptoms is presented below. [2]

Days 0 to 1

  • >> Anxious feelings
  • >> Irritability
  • >> Sleeplessness
  • >> Headaches/Migraines
  • >> Stomach upsets
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Loss of appetite
  • >> Insomnia

Days 1 to 2

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> High temperature/ Fever
  • >> Nausea/Vomiting
  • >> Difficulty sleeping and staying asleep


Days 2 to 3

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> With some individuals signs of Delirium Tremens
  • >> High blood pressure
  • >> Heart is beating too fast
  • >> Difficulty sleeping and staying asleep


Days 4 to 5

  • >> By this time, the person may be feeling fewer headaches/stomach upsets/ flu-like symptoms.
  • >> But for some individuals, signs of Delirium Tremens may happen
  • >> With persons who have signs of the DTs, it is recommended to seek expert care


Delirium Tremens can cause health complications and even pose a risk to life.


In addition, alcohol addiction can co-occur with the following health conditions. These are: [5]

  • >> Anxiety and mood problems (particularly for women)
  • >> Other substance use problems like smoking and illegal drug use (particularly for men)
  • >> Liver damage
  • >> Neurologic (brain-related) impairment that shows up as blurred vision, slowed speech, and unbalanced stance when walking
  • >> Various cancers



Diseases that happen along with alcohol use and abuse can make recovery a long-time endeavour necessitating support from experienced care providers.

Because recovery is not just about taking a pill or attending a group meeting, experts cite the full use of a system that tackles the problem holistically.


Dealing with alcohol problems in a whole-person approach means:

  • >> Promoting wellness of the mind, body, and spirit/psyche
  • >> Thinking of Sober Living as a lifestyle instead of a quick-fix solution
  • >> Addressing issues of alcohol misuse by restoring balance in a person’s different life aspects
  • >> Focusing on long-term recovery and/or abstinence



In a clinic that uses a holistic approach such as Abbeycare Gloucester, these goals are achieved by having the following Holistic Care services available:

  • >> Nutritionally balanced diet – as long-term alcohol use depletes the body of essential nutrients [1]
  • >> Exercise – wards of depressive and anxiety-causing thoughts during the withdrawal phase of treatment [6]
  • >> Massage therapy – to encourage body-focus and body-awareness
  • >> Acupuncture – can help ease sensitivity to pain as well as some anxiety symptoms when a person is going through alcohol detox [7]
  • >> Relaxation techniques – such as guided meditation can help a person manage moods and increase mental focus [6]


Alongside established therapeutic methods such as Cognitive Behavioural Techniques and 12 Step Facilitation, these alternative methods can boost a person’s chancer of fully recovering from alcohol addiction [6].

How Do You Stay Sober?

A person who wants to stay sober can benefit from learning behavioural techniques usually taught in 12 Step Facilitation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Learning techniques from these proven systems promote long-term abstinence from alcohol. [8]

Whereas, the cold turkey approach can be detrimental to a person’s chances of recovery because it sets the stage for the kindling phenomenon to occur. [9]


The kindling phenomenon is explained using an illustration here:

  • >> A person tries to do quit alcohol abruptly without other forms of support (like therapy or professionally supervised alcohol detox)
  • >> After a brief period of sobriety, the person relapses and goes back to drinking
  • >> The next time the person tries to quit alcohol again, withdrawal symptoms become worse.
  • >> The person is discouraged to quit from alcohol because the withdrawal symptoms are horrible.


Experts agree that if abstaining from alcohol is experienced negatively, especially if the withdrawal symptoms are severe, the less likely the person will stay sober [10].

Is Alcohol Use Disorder The Same As Alcoholism?

Yes. Alcoholism is the layman’s term for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).

The terms “alcoholism” and “alcoholics” are regarded as derogatory. [11]

Health care professionals diagnose a person with AUD depending on several tests.


Mostly, a person who has AUD tends to have:

  • >> Physical signs of withdrawal when alcohol use is stopped
  • >> Psychological dependence on alcohol
  • >> Co-occurring health problems such as liver disease


In Scotland, the increasing numbers of alcohol-related accidents and deaths have alarmed officials. [12]

A change in policy increased the price of non-branded value bottles with the intention to discourage AUD affected persons to buy large amounts of alcohol for cheap a price. [12]

So far, it is suggested that making alcohol less accessible can help AUD affected individuals make better choices about alcohol.

But experts still agree that a comprehensive plan involving alcohol rehabilitation is the best route to recovery from AUD [8].


What Happens To Your Liver When You Stop Drinking?

The liver of a person who stops drinking alcohol will likely recover from the first stage of liver disease. However, if the person has a moderate to serious case of liver disease, professional help is needed in order to fully recuperate [13].

The liver is partly responsible for removing toxins from the body.

Alcohol is considered a toxin, because of its active ingredient, ethanol.


When a person stops using alcohol, the liver does not need to remove ethanol from the body.

As a result, the liver can remove other toxins causing the body harm.

Drinking too much alcohol for a long period of time can cause liver disease, which comes in four stages. [13]

  • >> Alcoholic fatty liver disease – usually, there are no obvious signs, but a person might feel pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
  • >> Alcoholic hepatitis – the most obvious sign is the yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • >> Fibrosis – this stage is when the liver repeatedly forms scars which hinder its normal activity
  • >> Cirrhosis – usually, this stage requires professional intervention as the person is at great risk of liver failure



Factors that make a person more vulnerable to permanent liver damage (cirrhosis) are: [10]

  • Being female
  • Being under-nourished or malnourished
  • Has a relative who has liver disease


A person who quits alcohol because of liver concerns will be fully evaluated for the extent of liver damage. [10]

To prolong the life of the individual who suffers from alcohol-related liver disease, professionals recommend life-long abstinence from alcohol. [10]

Aside from easing stress from the liver, abstinence from alcohol also benefits other parts of the digestive system.  Specifically: [14]

  • >> The lining of the oesophagus
  • >> The small intestines
  • >> The stomach


Excessive alcohol consumption even by individuals not affected by Alcohol Use Disorder tends to cause problems in the digestive process.

These symptoms can include: [14]

  • >> Diarrhoea – as alcohol is processed first, other things are not digested properly
  • >> Constipation – alcohol triggers the kidneys to remove more water from the body, causing hard, dry stools
  • >> Allergic reaction – particularly if the person is allergic to alcohol or ingredients with gluten/wheat in the drink


Abstaining from alcohol also lessens the risk of ulcers in the forming in the gastrointestinal tract, also called peptic ulcers. [3]

For professionally supervised detox and withdrawal from alcohol, Abbeycare Clinic can help.

After the duration of the rehab stay, clients are encouraged to keep in touch with therapists and to seek further help if needed.


  1.   Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Alcohol Withdrawal. Available at:
  2.   Muncie, H. Jr., Yasinian, Y. & Oge’ L. (2013). Outpatient Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Available at:
  3.   Trevisan, L., Boutros, N., Petrakis, I. & Krystal, J. (1998). Complications of Alcohol Withdrawal Pathophysiological Insights. Available at:
  4.   O’Donnell, J. (DATE). Quitting alcohol can be deadly: Hundreds in the US die each year. USA TODAY. Available at:
  5.   Enoch, M.A. & Goldman, D. (2002). Problem Drinking and Alcoholism: Diagnosis and Treatment. Available at:
  6.   Mayo Clinic. (2018). Alcohol Use Disorder. Avialbale at:
  7.    Chen, P. et. al. (2018). Acupuncture for alcohol use disorder. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 10(1), 60–69. Available at:
  8.   NHS. (2018). Alcohol Misuse Treatment. Available at:
  9. Modesto-Lowe, V., Huard, J. & Conrad, C. (2005). Alcohol Withdrawal Kindling: Is There a Role for Anticonvulsants? Psychiatry, 2(5), 25–31. Available at:
  10. Worman, H. (2005). Approach to the Patient with Alcoholic Liver Disease. Available at:
  11. Morris, J. (2017). The media has a problem with alcoholism – and it’s stopping people getting help. Available at:
  12. Jamieson, A. (2018). Scotland tackles alcohol crisis with minimum price law. NBC News. Available at:
  13. Felman, A. (2018). What’s to know about alcoholic liver disease? Medical News Today. Available at:
  14. Medline Plus. (2017). Digestive diseases. Available at:

Prescriptions Drugs FAQ

prescription drugs

What Are The Most Prescribed Drugs In The UK?

The leading painkiller prescribed in the UK is higher-dose codeine (Co-codamol) with about 15 Million prescriptions given in 2017. [1]

The leading psychopharmaceutical drugs prescribed are Citalopram Hydrobromide (14+ Million in 2017) and Amitriptyline Hydrochloride (13+ Million in 2017). [1].

Both Citalopram and Amitriptyline are used to treat depression.


Citalopram is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), while Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant.

Both Citalopram and Amitriptyline are used to treat depression.

Meanwhile, Atorvastatin, a drug for high cholesterol tops the list of most prescribed medicine with 37+ Million prescriptions.

Because Aspirin and Paracetamol are available over-the-counter, the figures for these drugs are excluded from this list.


Morphine and morphine-like painkillers are called opioid painkillers.

These painkillers are most often prescribed for the following conditions [2]:

  • Orthopedic pain – conditions involving hips, knees, feet, ankles, shoulders, hand and spine
  • Dental conditions
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Cancer pain


Opioid painkillers have a high potential for abuse and dependence [3].

The most commonly abused opioid painkillers are [4]:

  • >> Tramadol
  • >> Hydrocodone
  • >> Oxycodone


The number of incidents of prescription drug addiction in the UK is not as high as the number of incidents reported in US.

Authorities credit stricter rules and implementation for this lower incident rate. [5]

However, at the current level, prescription drug addiction has already caused a number of deaths due to overdose.

A number of complications can also be attributed to prescription drug misuse. These are: [6]

  • >> Constipation
  • >> Feeling sleepy
  • >> Dizziness
  • >> Nausea/ vomiting
  • >> Difficulty breathing
  • >> Hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain)
  • >> Immune function problems
  • >> Hormonal problems
  • >> Muscle rigidity
  • >> Jerky muscle contractions
  • >> Physical and psychological addiction
  • >> Risk of overdose when used together with alcohol and/or anti-depressants


In addition, the long-term treatment of conditions using opioids is not definitively proven effective.

Experts warn that using opioids to relieve pain affects multiple organ systems, which influence numerous body functions [6].


Meanwhile, antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed type of psychopharmaceutical drug [7].

In 2018, it was found out that: [8]

  • Individuals aged 65 older are given more prescriptions than their younger counterparts
  • More women than men are prescribed antidepressants



Aside from depression, anti-depressants are used to treat migraine and diabetic neuropathy. [8]

The most widely known antidepressant is a type of drug called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs are sold under the names:

  • >> Citalopram
  • >> Dapoxetine
  • >> Escitalopram
  • >> Fluoxetine
  • >> Fluvoxamine
  • >> Paroxetine
  • >> Sertraline
  • >> Vortioxetine


What Are The Most Common Prescription Drugs?

Co-codamol is the most common prescription drug for pain (15+ Million prescribed in 2019) [1].

Meanwhile, three drugs for depression top the list of prescribed psychopharmaceutical drugs. These are: [1]

  • >> Citalopram Hydrobromide (14+ Million)
  • >> Amitriptyline Hydrochloride (13+ Million)
  • >> Sertraline Hydrochloride (nearly 13 Million)


The NHS lists the most popular painkillers as Co-codamol,


Morphine, and Morphine-like drugs. These drugs include:

  • >> Oxycodone
  • >> Hydrocodone
  • >> Fentanyl
  • >> Buprenorphine
  • >> Codeine


Some health care professionals pinpoint the widespread use of opioids to [3]:

  • >> The waiting lists in clinics being too long
  • >> Prisons prescribing the use of opioids for pain
  • >> Psychiatry consultants preferring the use of these drugs
  • >> Popular appeal of opioids in media and social media
  • >> Limitations on the prescriptions of stronger painkillers


Psychological dependence on prescription drugs can be assumed if an individual is described as [2]:

  • >> Needing more of the prescribed medicine to feel its effects
  • >> Taking more prescription medicine than originally intended
  • >> Daily activity is planned around the use of the medicine
  • >> Previously enjoyed activities are cut short in relation to the use of the medicine
  • >> Secretive behaviour surrounding the procurement of prescribed medicine
  • >> Moodiness and irritability when unable to obtain the medicine


Physical symptoms of prescription drug abuse vary depending on the drug type.

However, the pattern for psychological dependence is similar, no matter what type of drug is abused [9].


Recently, Public Health England addressed the misuse of Alprazolam (Xanax), a type of benzodiazepine drug [10]

Health risks posed by being dependent on benzodiazepines like Alprazolam include [11]:

  • >> Drowsiness, sleepiness, or dizziness
  • >> Unusual patterns of sleep
  • >> A form of amnesia where the person can have difficulty creating new memories
  • >> Next-day drowsiness
  • >> Problems thinking and reasoning clearly
  • >> Allergic reactions including extreme reactions that need immediate attention
  • >> Danger risk when driving and operating machinery



In addition, there is a great chance of becoming physically and psychologically dependent on benzodiazepines if use is not professionally supervised.

Other than Alprazolam, other benzodiazepine type drugs include:

  • >> Diazepam (Valium)
  • >> Chlordiazepoxide
  • >> Lorazepam
  • >> Lorprazolam
  • >> Nitrazepam
  • >> Temazepan
  • >> Flunitrazepam
  • >> Oxazepam
  • >> Phenazepam


Addiction to prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines and SSRIs can be treated safely in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare Scotland.


What Happens To Your Brain When You Use Prescription Drugs?

Prescription opioid pain medicines stimulate the pleasure area of the brain. [12]

Long-term use of opioid painkillers can cause brain damage that affects a person’s ability to reason logically.

Addiction to opioid painkillers changes parts of the brain that make drug cravings irresistible, causing the person to use drugs even if it already harmful.


Opioid drugs quiet the part of the brain that is associated with stress. This area is called locus coeruleus.

However, when opioids are overused, the brain compensates by making the neurons of the locus coeruleus over-active.

When the neurons are over-charged, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms.


Prescription anti-depressants called SSRIs (including Citalopram and Sertraline) affect the brain by regulating the neurotransmitter called serotonin.

An optimum amount of serotonin in the brain makes a person feel calm.

But when the level of serotonin is too high, a person can feel anxious and confused [13]


Prescription anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Alprazolam slows down the body’s functions by increasing the effect of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) in the brain. [10]

Prescription stimulant drugs like Concerta XL, Ritalin and Medikinet XL affect the brain by boosting the levels of two key neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine.


What Are The Dangers Of Prescription Drugs?

Overdose can happen if a person misuses prescription drugs.

Other potential harms include physical and psychological addiction, as well as side-effects associated with the specific prescription drug.


In the UK, the most misused prescription drugs include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, strong painkillers, and stimulants. [13]

The harms associated with misusing/abusing anti-depressants are: [14]

  • >> Nausea, vomiting
  • >> Weight gain or appetite increase
  • >> Impotence, erectile dysfunction, decreased orgasm
  • >> Fatigue, tiredness, drowsiness
  • >> Dizziness and headaches
  • >> Insomnia, problems falling and staying asleep
  • >> Dry mouth
  • >> Constipation
  • >> Irritability and anxiety


The harms associated with misusing/abusing anti-anxiety drugs are:

  • >> Feeling drowsy/ sleepy
  • >> Feeling tired all the time
  • >> Poor balance or physical coordination
  • >> Trouble finishing and concentrating on tasks
  • >> Slurred speech
  • >> Memory problems
  • >> Insomnia or sleep disturbance


The harms associated with misusing/abusing strong painkillers are: [15]

  • >> Sleepiness/ drowsiness
  • >> Not thinking clearly (blurry thoughts)
  • >> Shallow breathing
  • >> Nausea/vomiting
  • >> Difficulty passing urine
  • >> Constipation
  • >> High blood pressure
  • >> Feeling of euphoria becomes the focus of using medication instead of pain relief
  • >> Unsafe use of needles (if drug is used intravenously)
  • >> Increased sensitivity to pain (hyperalgesia)
  • >> Tolerance to the drug means needing more of the drug to feel less pain



The harms associated with misusing/abusing stimulants are: [16]

  • >> Pain in the stomach area
  • >> Pain in the chest area
  • >> Heart beats too fast or too slow
  • >> Appetite loss
  • >> Anxiety and restlessness
  • >> Nervousness
  • >> Difficulty falling asleep
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Hair loss
  • >> Dizziness
  • >> Can cause thoughts about suicide
  • >> Can trigger psychotic breakdown (lost touch with reality)
  • >> Slows growth down (for children and adolescents)


A way to safely detox from prescription drug withdrawal is by entering a detox programme in a rehab clinic.

What Causes Prescription Drug Abuse?

Individuals can abuse prescription drugs because of the belief that the drugs will make them feel good.

The motivation to use drugs, in general, is driven by the perceived benefits drugs have to a person’s happiness.

Young people are at high risk of prescription drug abuse if they have access to these drugs.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (US), young adults (18-25 years old) count as the largest group that tends to misuse prescription drugs [kid].

Young adults who use prescription drugs say they use these medicines to:

  • >> relieve pain
  • >> deal with problems
  • >> decrease anxiety
  • >> feel better
  • >> lose weight
  • >> sleep
  • >> have a good time with friends
  • >> increase alertness
  • >> experiment
  • >> counter effects of other drugs
  • >> concentrate
  • >> relax
  • >> get high



The three types of prescription drugs most commonly abused in the UK are: [13]

Opioid pain killers including morphine and morphine-like medications

  • >> Anti-depressants
  • >> Anti-anxiety drugs (Benzodiazepines)
  • >> Stimulants used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)



As of the moment, there are no government statistics on the exact number of individuals with prescription drug misuse problems. [8]

However, health experts warn that the more a person uses these drugs in an unsupervised manner, the higher his/her chances are of becoming addicted or dependent.


In addition, a rough approximate of 1/2 million individuals are using opioids for more than three years now.

Information from the Department for Health reveals a 60% increase of opioid prescriptions in recent years.


Since opioids are highly addictive [3], the long-term use of these drugs exposes individuals to the risk of painkiller prescription addiction.

Ways in which a person can accidentally become addicted to opioid painkillers:

  • >> Using the painkiller in a primary care circumstance
  • >> Taking a higher dose
  • >> Taking more of the drug
  • >> Refilling or topping up dosage inappropriately


A private clinic with experts handling this type of addiction would be Abbeycare Gloucester.



  1.   Mattews, S. (2018). A nation of pill poppers: Record 1.1 BILLION prescriptions written in 2017 as figures reveal the 20 most popular drugs but critics slam the NHS for spending millions on paracetamol. Daily Mail Online. Available at:
  2.   Janakiram, C. et al. (2019). Opioid Prescriptions for Acute and Chronic Pain Management Among Medicaid Beneficiaries. American Journal Of Preventive Medicine, 57(3), 365-373. DOI: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.04.022. Available at:
  3.   Owens, B. (2015, June 11). Tackling prescription drug abuse. The Pharmaceutical Journal.
  4.   NHS. (2019). Which painkiller? Healthy body. Available at:
  5.   Britton, R. (2019, September 10). The UK is dangerously close to having a full-blown opioid crisis. Independent. Available at:
  6.   Benyamin, R. et al. (2008). Opioid complications and side effects. Pain Physician, 11(2). Available at:
  7.   NHS. (2017). Health Survey for England 2016 Prescribed medicines. Available at:
  8.   Walker, A. (2019, November 2). Report reveals severe lack of services for UK opioid painkiller addicts. The Guardian. Available at:
  9.   Drug Free Kids Canada. (2018). help your teens before they help themselves. Available at:
  10.   Public Health England. (2018). Alprazolam (Xanax): What are the facts? Available at:
  11.   Anderson, L. (2019). Benzodiazepines: Overview and Use. Available at:
  12.   Haydon, I. (2018, July 26). How opioids reshape your brain, and what scientists are learning about addiction. Available at:
  13.   National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2016). Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Available at:
  14.   Roberts, J. (2014). The Most Dangerous & Heavily Promoted Prescription Drugs & Their Potential Natural Alternatives. Collective Evolution. Available at:
  15.   Savage, S., Kirsh, K., Passik, S. (2008). Challenges in Using Opioids to Treat Pain in Persons With Substance Use Disorders. Addict Sci Clin Pract 4(2), 4–25. Available at:
  16.   NHS. (2018). Treatment Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Available at:
  17.  National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Prescription Drug Abuse: Young People at Risk. Available at:

Hippy Crack FAQ

hippy crack

Why Is Nitrous Oxide Called Hippy Crack?

“Hippy” typifies the laid-back trait of persons who use it; “crack” describes the speed in which the drug takes effect, taking after “crack cocaine”[1].

“Crack” also originates from the whip-it cracker, a device used to discharge the drug into balloons or other containers.

Hippy crack is called many names including [2]:

  • >> Whippets/ Whip-its/ whippits/
  • >> Laughing gas
  • >> N20
  • >> Noz
  • >> Nangs
  • >> Sweet Air


In the UK, using Nitrous Oxide for recreational purposes is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act [3].

However, the easy availability of the drug coupled with loose enforcement of the law means its use is widespread.

Hippy Crack/Nitrous Oxide paraphernalia have been found in areas surrounding a music festival, parties, and other events youth frequent [2].


So far, up to thirty deaths have been connected with the unlawful use of Nitrous Oxide [3].

But because the negative effects of the drug are under-reported, many users seem to dodge serious consequences.

There is no formal categorisation of addiction to Hippy Crack/Nitrous Oxide.

However, mental health workers and health care professionals address problems regarding Nitrous Oxide use with the same guidelines as those used to treat other addictions [4].


A person addicted to using Nitrous Oxide, like other dissociative drugs, can have the following symptoms [5]:

  • >> A need to use it in a higher dose to obtain the same desired effect
  • >> Cravings for Hippy Crack
  • >> Headaches and/or flu-like symptoms when the “usual dose” is missed
  • >> Mood swings and irritability
  • >> Excessive sweating


Nitrous Oxide/Hippy Crack is considered a dissociative drug, which causes individuals to have [6]:

  • >> Hallucinations – seeing or feeling things that are not actually existing
  • >> Sensorial disturbances – sense of smell, taste, and feel are not normal
  • >> Panic attacks
  • >> Feeling disconnected from the body or self
  • >> The person feels as if s/he is floating
  • >> Feeling numb
  • >> Having a sense of euphoria (some describe it as bliss)
  • >> Perceiving things in real life are not real
  • >> Detachment from self
  • >> The theme of being connected to a “Higher Power” is common



Withdrawal symptoms from Nitrous Oxide can also be similar to withdrawal symptoms from other dissociative drugs.

However, withdrawal symptoms from Nitrous Oxide are still being studied so that a comprehensive understanding can be developed. [6]

Detox and withdrawal from Hippy Crack can be done safely in a rehab clinic like Abbeycare Gloucester.


Is Laughing Gas Dangerous?

Yes, laughing gas is dangerous because its use can cause a person to be deprived of oxygen, which leads to unconsciousness and in the worst case, death [7].

Laughing Gas, known as Nitrous Oxide or Hippy Crack harms the body by:  [7]

Creating a risk for asphyxiation (being deprived of oxygen)

  • >> Loss of oxygen in the brain can cause death or permanent brain damage

Loss of consciousness (passing out)

  • >> Increases the crime risk of harm for the person

Nitrous Oxide–induced Vitamin B12 deficiency causing:

  • >> Numbness and weakness in arms and legs
  • >> Neck pain
  • >> Reduced range of movements (difficulty extending arms and/or legs)
  • >> Shooting pain that starts with the neck and goes down the spine
  • >> Poor coordination of hands and feet
  • >> Handling small objects
  • >> Not standing or walking in a balanced way
  • >> Increasing the risk of acute megaloblastic anemia, which causes:
  • >> Shortness of breath
  • >> Muscles feel weak
  • >> Pale skin
  • >> Loss of appetite
  • >> Diarrhoea/nausea/vomiting
  • >> Swollen tongue

Escaping cold gas can:

  • >> burn the skin
  • >> shock the vagus nerve, causing the heart beat to slow down


There is also a risk for psychosis and cognitive impairment (thinking problems) [4].


Nitrous Oxide is considered safe when used in a controlled setting by a health care professional.

Officially used, it can help soothe children who get anxious with a dental procedure [8].



Likewise, in a clinic, Nitrous Oxide can be used as a minor anaesthetic.

The recreational use of Nitrous Oxide, known as Hippy Crack has become an alarming trend recently (2016-2019). [1]


Young people are prone to abuse Nitrous Oxide because of its mistaken reputation as a “safe” party drug.

In both recreational use and clinical use, the most negative effect seems to be nausea and/or vomiting.


Some individuals also become addicted to using Nitrous Oxide.

Authorities pinpoint its accessibility and low price (compared to other recreational drugs) [9].

Quitting the use of Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide can be safely done in a rehab clinic like Abbeycare Scotland, where professional help can ease possible withdrawal symptoms.


Is Laughing Gas Harmful?

Yes. The potential harms of Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide use include accidental suffocation and muscle debility [2].

There is also a risk for Nitrous Oxide Addiction, which can cause a person physical and psychological distress.


Inhaling Laughing Gas/Hippy Crack in an enclosed space increases the risk of oxygen deprivation or suffocation.

Suffocation can happen when a person who uses Laughing Gas has no access to air [2].


When Laughing Gas is inhaled [7]:

  • >> It binds to the opiate receptors in the Central Nervous System
  • >> The brain releases its natural opioids, or pain killers
  • >> The person feels relaxed, less anxious
  • >> But during this state the brain needs a boost of oxygen


If a person using Laughing Gas does not get oxygen immediately after, the following will likely happen:

  • >> Headaches/Migraines
  • >> Nausea/Vomiting
  • >> Loss of consciousness


In a health care facility where Nitrous Oxide is handled by professionals, oxygen is administered through a simple face mask that fits over the person’s nose to prevent loss of consciousness.


Loss of consciousness is caused when some parts of the brain stop receiving signals telling the person to stay alert. [10]

In situations when loss of consciousness happens, the person can be exposed to risks such as:

  • >> Crime (committed while the person is unconscious)
  • >> Vomiting – the person’s throat can be blocked, and because he/she is unconsciousness, this becomes a choking hazard
  • >> Hypoxia or oxygen deprivation can cause permanent brain damage [11]



In the A&E, persons who become unconscious due to oxygen loss are immediately given oxygen.

However, irreparable and permanent damage can happen when immediate access to oxygen is not received [11].

Therefore, inhaling nitrous oxide directly from the canister, and/or placing a plastic bag over the head while inhaling Laughing Gas/Hippy Crack is extremely dangerous.

In serious cases with no immediate help, fatalities can occur [2].


Even in clinics, undesirable side effects of Laughing Gas/Nitrous Oxide have been reported. These minor complaints include:

  • >> Nausea/vomiting
  • >> Shivering/ feeling cold
  • >> Sweating
  • >> Dizziness/headaches
  • >> Feeling very tired


Is Using Nitrous Oxide Illegal?

In the UK, using Nitrous Oxide/Hippy Crack for recreational purposes is illegal under the Psychoactive Substances Act [3].

Selling Hippy Crack, for psychoactive purposes is illegal. But selling Nitrous Oxide per se is not illegal.

The reason Nitrous Oxide is not a banned or controlled substance is that it has legitimate use in: [3]

  • >> Dental procedures
  • >> A&E and outpatient clinics
  • >> Restaurants (aerosol chargers used to make whipped cream in drinks)



In addition, possession of Nitrous Oxide/Hippy Crack is not illegal

But possessing it with intent to sell it as a (party) drug is illegal.

It is difficult to prove in court that a person who has possession of Nitrous Oxide intends to sell the substance for psychoactive purposes. [12]

In a recent report by the BBC, journalists easily obtained the substance by phone, online and in actual person at Manchester [3].


Hippy Crack’s low price (compared to other illegal drugs) and easy availability has are the reason why a growing number of people have become addicted to Laughing Gas.

In the Global Drug Survey of 2012, as many as 22,000 youths from the UK have reportedly tried the drug in nightclubs, music festivals, and other social gatherings [7].

Most of these individuals have wrongly been led to believe that Hippy Crack is safe and does not cause any undesirable effects.

What Does Hippy Crack Do?

Known formally as Nitrous Oxide, the drug is an anaesthetic and an analgesic [8].

An anaesthetic renders a person unable to feel pain, while an analgesic lessens pain sensations.

When inhaled, Nitrous Oxide causes a person to feel less pain or to totally feel no pain at all.


However, this effect is accurately reached when Nitrous Oxide is mixed with a ratio of oxygen.

In recreational use, the effects of Nitrous Oxide/Hippy Crack can vary.

Sometimes the desired effect is achieved and sometimes negative effects happen.

Negative effects of Nitrous Oxide/Hippy Crack

  • >> Vomiting and nausea – if not mixed with enough oxygen or when the dose is too high
  • >> Not recommended for use when the person is already using opioid painkillers
  • >> Can cause shallow breathing

Healthcare professionals, however, find Nitrous Oxide as an effective drug because:

  • >> It reaches the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal chord) within seconds after being inhaled
  • >> It is a non-invasive procedure
  • >> It has a good safety record of safety
  • >> Few side effects when administered with oxygen
  • >> The person given the drug is not required to be constantly monitored
  • >> Does not usually cause deep sedation
  • >> Can be used in different care environments as long as there is equipment
  • >> Usually applied to manage sudden pain connected to minor procedures


Using nasal hood or full face mask, Nitrous Oxide is mixed with a ratio of oxygen.

Within 1-2 minutes, a person can already feel it take effect.

Nitrous Oxide’s anaesthetic or sedative effect is much more known than its analgesic (pain relieving) effect.

That is why it is administered together with other pain killers. (Paracetamol or Ibuprofen for example).


Professionals believe that it decreases pain because it lowers a person’s anxiety about the procedure.

With children, Nitrous Oxide is a boon to because it allows for the procedure to be done without much complaint.

For adults, Nitrous Oxide can be applied when undergoing some procedures like: [8]

  • >> Incision and drainage of wounds
  • >> Joint Dislocation/Injections
  • >> Muscle Pain
  • >> Pain involving fractures
  • >> Dental Procedures
  • >> Minor to Moderate Burns
  • >> Repairs of muscle tears
  • >> Foreign Body Removal



In short, when used by professionals, Nitrous Oxide is generally considered a safe drug.

But when Nitrous Oxide is used as a psychoactive drug, unintentional harm can occur.

Also, some individuals become addicted to Hippy Crack/Nitrous Oxide.

A sensible way of detoxing from Hippy Crack would be in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare.



  1.   Lake, E. (2019, March 28). No laughing matter – What s ‘hippy crack’, what are the side effects of laughing gas and are nitrous oxide canisters illegal?. The Sun. Available at:
  2.   Sidmouth College (n.d.) Fact Sheet – Nitrous Oxide. Available at:
  3.   O’Donoghue, L. (2018, December 19). Laughing gas laws not working, says ex-chief crown prosecutor. BBC News. Available at:
  4.   Sheldon, R., Reid, M., Schon F. & Poole, Norman. (2019). Just say N2O – nitrous oxide misuse: essential information for psychiatrists. BJPsy Advances. Available at:
  5.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Hallucinogens. Availbale at:
  6.   Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (2017). Nitrous oxide. Available at:
  7.   Thompson, A., Leite, M., Lunn, M. & Bennett, D. (2015). Whippits, nitrous oxide and the dangers of legal highs. Practical Nuerology, 15(3), 207–209. Availabe at:
  8.   Lapietra, A. (2018). Nitrous Oxide in the Emergency Department. Pain & Procedural Sedation in Acute Care. Available at:
  9.   Rawlinson, K. (2017, August 31). Laughing gas still illegal despite court decisions, UK government says. Available at:
  10.   Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2015). Researchers reveal brainwave changes in patients receiving nitrous oxide. Available at:
  11.   Singh, V., Gupta, P., Khatana, S., & Bhagol, A. (2011). Supplemental oxygen therapy: Important considerations in oral and maxillofacial surgery. Natl J Maxillofac Surg., 2(1), 10–14. Available at:
  12.   Extance, A. (2017, September 4). Nitrous oxide causes UK drug law confusion. Available at:

Stop Drinking FAQ

What Happens When You Stop Drinking?

When you stop drinking, most will likely experience withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, tremor, headache, blood pressure fluctuations, and sleeplessness.

Generally speaking, withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant.

The most severe withdrawal symptoms usually occur in the first few days after drinking has stopped.


Here is the typical timeline for alcohol withdrawal symptoms [1]:

Days 0 to 1

  • >> Anxious feelings
  • >> Irritability
  • >> Sleeplessness
  • >> Headaches/Migraines
  • >> Stomach upsets
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Loss of appetite
  • >> Insomnia


Days 1 to 2

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> Fever
  • >> Stomach upsets
  • >> Nausea/Vomiting
  • >> Continued Insomnia


Days 2 to 3

  • >> Shakes/ Tremors/ Muscle spasms
  • >> Delirium Tremens (a form of seizure)
  • >> Blood pressure may rise
  • >> Heart can beat faster than usual
  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Continued Insomnia
  • >> Some individuals experience hallucinations


Symptoms in days 2 to 3 can last up to 5 days, especially without professional help.

Experts believe, that if symptoms do not get worse 24 to 48 hours after the last drink, there is a better chance of recovery [2].

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) is the formal name given to the collection of symptoms felt during alcohol withdrawal [1].


AWS can range from Mild, Moderate to Severe.

In a rehab clinic, health care workers determine how serious AWS is by conducting an assessment process.


The AWS assessment process can include [3]:

Using a scale called CIWA-Ar:

  • >> Using a scale called CIWA-Ar:
  • >> Blood tests
  • >> Alcohol and/or toxicology screen



The assessment process will help to: [3]

  • >> Monitor a person’s progress during treatment
  • >> Determine instances when it is appropriate to give medication
  • >> Give an indication when treatment can be stopped
  • >> Help health care workers know when the person can be referred to outpatient care



Severe cases of AWS can result in death, due to Delirium Tremens.

This is especially true if a severe case is not immediately treated [2].


Why Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) happens [4]:

  • >> The brain maintains balance by maintaining the levels of inhibitory (“stoppers”) and excitatory (“go-ers”) neurotransmitters.
  • >> One of the major excitatory neurotransmitters (or brain chemical) is glutamate, which acts through the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) neuroreceptor.


  • >> Alcohol stops the action of the NMDA neuroreceptors, when this happens, the brain becomes over-excited.
  • >> Continuous, regular use of alcohol makes this over-excitement a regular action for the brain (this is called hyperexcitability).


  • >>Hyperexcitability accounts for AWS symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and tremors.
  • >> As for the brain’s inhibitory (“stopper”) neurotransmitter, it is called γ-amino-butyric acid (GABA).


  • >> GABA acts through (GABA-A) neuroreceptor.
  • >> When the brain acts in a normal way, GABA prevents a person’s brain from becoming overly excited.
  • >> Alcohol enhances the effect of GABA by making the GABA-A neuroreceptors over-eager


  • >> The “over-eagerness” is why a person feels relaxed after drinking an alcoholic beverage.
  • >> But when alcohol is consumed too much and too often, the brain gets used to this over-eagerness of the receptors.


  • >> The person’s brain becomes used to this high level of GABA-A neuroreceptor activity.
  • >> To maintain this unusual level, the person tends to want more alcohol in order to relax or just feel normal (not agitated)


An important concept in both alcohol craving and alcohol withdrawal is the “kindling”

With repeated attempts at alcohol withdrawal, a person may experience “kindling”.

Kindling means, that brain cells experience long-term changes and worsening of alcohol withdrawal symptoms every time an attempt to quit is performed.

When a person seeks professional help for detox, for instance in a clinic like Abbeycare, there is a better chance of preventing relapse [5].


What Defines An Alcoholic?

An alcoholic is defined as a person who exhibits problematic drinking behaviour, which affects the individual’s mental and physical health. [6]

The person’s social life, family life, and activities at work also tend to be affected.

For the person to be officially diagnosed as “alcoholic”, the problems (called impairments) should last for at least a week.


The term “alcoholic” is sometimes considered derogatory or insulting.

The terms “problematic drinking” and “Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)” have largely replaced “alcoholic”.

Persons who have AUD are also classified as having a mild, moderate or severe case of AUD, depending on the number of symptoms they exhibit.

Experts say that AUD is best approached undergoing a structured rehab program such as one offered by Abbeycare Gloucester Clinic.


In recent years, the term “grey area drinker” has become buzz word [7].

A grey area drinker can be described as a person who does not strictly meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder.

A grey area drinker may not have work, family or job impairments that make the problematic drinking easy to spot.

Grey area drinkers may not hit rock bottom like persons who have a more serious case of AUD.

But they can also benefit from professional care in an alcohol rehab clinic.



What Is The Best Way To Stop Drinking?

The best way to stop drinking is to reduce intake levels over time, gradually [8].

A cold-turkey approach increases the chance of relapse.

Relapse is linked to a phenomenon called “kindling”.

Kindling is a tendency for withdrawal symptoms to get worse every time there is another attempt to quit alcohol.

Individuals who quit drinking all of a sudden are prone to experience the most negative effects of alcohol withdrawal.


In serious cases, some individuals can be hospitalised due to Delirium Tremens or seizures connected with alcohol, withdrawal.

Less serious cases of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome can be successfully treated on an out-patient basis.

Overall, finding professional help is also a good idea so that the negative experiences associated with alcohol withdrawal can be minimised.


Here are some tips to quit alcohol adapted from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (US): [9]

  • >> Gradually decrease alcohol consumed to the recommended levels
  • >> Identify and avoid alcohol triggers
  • >> Talk through urges to drink with an accountability partner or a professional (counsellor, therapist, etc.)
  • >> Develop the habit to say “no, thanks” convincingly and readily.
  • >> Seek other healthier ways to cope with stress, manage moods, and feel more relaxed around other people.



Professionals who can help with quitting alcohol include:

  • >> Addiction counsellor
  • >> Local health care workers
  • >> Therapists who use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and 12 Step facilitation



A rehab clinic well-equipped to provide professional help will also:

  • >> Be able to handle withdrawal complications
  • >> Have qualified staff to administer treatments
  • >> Check an individual’s progress during alcohol withdrawal
  • >> Look after overall health
  • >> Personalise a treatment plan
  • >> Recommend support so the person can be supported after therapy

How Do You Know If Alcohol Is Affecting Your Health?

Signs that a person’s health is being affected by alcohol, can include memory loss, and early symptoms of liver damage.

In addition, alcohol dependency is another warning sign [4].

Memory loss is seen when: [10]

  • >> A person becomes increasingly forgetful of recent events
  • >> Appointments are forgotten
  • >> Some daily tasks are overlooked
  • >> Things become lost or misplaced more often
  • >> Usual activities take more time than usual because the person got confused about the next step
  • >> Other persons have remarked about the memory loss


Loss of memory is associated with problematic alcohol use because alcohol affects the hippocampus, the part f the brain responsible for memories. [11]


Early signs of liver damage

Whereas, memory loss is quite obvious, are less easy to spot.

The first stage of liver disease associated with heavy use of alcohol is alcoholic fatty liver disease. [12]

The symptoms of alcoholic fatty liver disease are:

  • >> stomach upsets/ nausea
  • >> abdominal pain
  • >> diarrhoea
  • >> lessened appetite
  • >> feeling weak
  • >> itchy skin


If there is blood in the vomit or stools, it is a sign to seek professional help.


Indicators of alcohol dependency [2]

  • >> morning drinking (with or without vomiting)
  • >> unable to feel “normal” without drinking
  • >> tremors and muscle spasms
  • >> the person plans the day around drinking
  • >> skipping meals
  • >> cannot sleep without drinking
  • >> being unable to keep a self-imposed drink limit


Defining “normal drinking” is useful when a person wants to know if his or her behaviour conforms to what is considered acceptable.

With this line of reasoning, the NHS guidelines can be consulted.


The NHS recommends drinking only 14 units of alcohol a week [13].

  • >> One unit of alcohol is equivalent to:
  • >> half a pint of regular beer
  • >> half a glass of red wine
  • >> one single measure of spirits or aperitifs


The NHS also suggests refraining from binge drinking.


Binge drinking means:

  • >> Male – 8 units of alcohol in a single session
  • >> Female – 6 units of alcohol in a single session


This definition is different because male and female bodies process alcohol differently in terms of metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics [14].

It is also recommended to evenly spread the 14 units recommended throughout the week.

Whenever possible, alcohol-free days should be practiced


Individuals who are concerned about alcohol use can benefit from detoxing safely in a structured program [15].

A rehab clinic such as Abbeycare Scotland can also offer a home detox option for a mild case of alcohol dependency.

Since alcohol dependence can be a sign of a deeper problem, some mental health workers also recommend psychotherapy.


Psychotherapeutic approaches most often used with problem drinking include:

  • >> 12 Step Facilitation
  • >> Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • >> Dialectical Behaviour therapy


An individual who undergoes detox and therapeutic work is likely to have a better grasp of the issues causing alcohol addiction.

This understanding can help sustain a sober living lifestyle.



  1.   Muncie, H. Jr., Yasinian, Y. & Oge’ L. (2013). Outpatient Management of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Available at:
  2.   Richard K. Newman; Megan A. Stobart Gallagher; Anna E. Gomez. (2019). Alcohol Withdrawal. Available at:
  3.   Gortney, et. al. (2016). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome in medical patients. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine. Available at:
  4.   Bayard, M., Mcintyre, J., Hill, K. & Woodside, J. (2004). Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome. Am Fam Physician. 69(6), 1443-1450. Available at:
  5.   National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2017). Understanding Relapse. Available at:
  6.   Phillips, M. (1990). Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Available at:
  7.  Scott, C. (2017, November 16). ‘I belonged to the grey area between normal drinker and alcoholic’. Available at:
  8.  Chernyak, P. (2019). How to Quit Drinking Alcohol. Available at:
  9.  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2015). Self-help strategies for quitting drinking. Available at:
  10.  Braun, M. (2018). 3 Warning Signs of a Potential Memory Problem. Available at:
  11.  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2004). Alcohol Alert. Available at:
  12.  Felman, A. (2018). What’s to know about alcoholic liver disease? Medical News Today. Available at:
  13.  NHS. (2016). New alcohol advice issued. Available at:
  14.  Whitley, H. & Lindsey, W. (2009). Sex-Based Differences in Drug Activity. American Family Physician, 80(11), 1254-1258. Available at:
  15.  National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2019). Available at:



MDMA_ Molly

Can You Die From Molly Days Later?

Individuals can die from using molly/ecstasy days after using the drug.

The cause of death is usually suicide due to depression. [1]

Accidental death because of molly/ecstasy use is due to:

Hyperthermia (body temperature too high) [2]

  • >> The body’s temperature becomes too high
  • >> The brain, heart, muscles,liver and kidneys are damaged
  • >> The individual becomes dehydrated, which leads him or her to drink more water, making the next symptom worse


Hyponatraemia (water intoxication) [3]:

  • >> Feeling overheated, the individual drinks too much water
  • >> Molly/MDMA makes the person not feel like peeing (antidiuretic effect)
  • >> Water intoxication happens (cells swell with too much water)


Arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) [4]

  • >> Which can cause a sudden heart attack

Hypertension (high blood pressure) [4]

Cerebrovascular accidents (stroke) [4]

Unusual risk-taking behaviour caused by using the drug [4]

In the UK, there are recent reports of ecstasy use in music venues and festivals.

Sadly, ecstasy use has been connected to several deaths in these events [3].

In the US, ecstasy, often called “molly” is popular in raves.

Rave parties are organised dance parties where electronic dance music is played by DJs.


It is said that using ecstasy can heighten the experience of raves, particularly the trance-like feel evoked by the lights and sounds

Some individuals also use ecstasy in music events because the drug reportedly: [4]

  • >> Makes the party-goer more energetic
  • >> Boosts stamina and endurance to dance and stay up late
  • >> Helps a person overcome shyness, so the person socialises more
  • >> Enhances sexual arousal by increasing touch sensations


When its illicit use first became popular, it was widely hailed as a “love drug”.

Apparently, using ecstasy could make a person more empathic [5].

Having a greater sense of empathy is usually associated with being more demonstrative, “sweet”, and “cuddly”.


Ecstasy’s after-effects 2 to 5 days later is sometimes referred to as “suicide Tuesday” [1].

The feel-good effects of the drug wear off after six hours typically.

During this “crash” or low period, individuals describe their feelings as sad, depressed and blue.

Some refer to this state as being “E-tarded”.

These after-effects can be considered withdrawal symptoms ecstasy addiction.


Scientists pinpoint how ecstasy targets parts of the brain affecting memory and concentration.

In fact, brain changes of individuals who use ecstasy for a long time mimic those of individuals who are ageing and/or have age-related dementia [4].


The reason why it takes 2 to 5 days before the negative effects show is because of ecstasy’s slow half-life.

The half-life of ecstasy is 8 hours [4].

In contrast, the half-life of paracetamol (Panadol or Calpol) is 4 hours [6].

Half-life means the time it would take for a drug to show half of its effects in the human body.

Ecstasy/MDMA needs 5 half-lives to be totally eliminated by the body.

Consequently, it would take about the body about 40 hours to remove 95% of ecstasy from the system [4].

Abbeycare Clinic has a structured programme to help individuals who want to remove ecstasy from their system safely.


How Long Do The After Effects Of Molly Last?

The short-term after-effects of Molly, last 2 to 5 days. For long-term after-effects, these can be prolonged over a month or more.

Molly/ecstasy affects parts of the brain that control [7]:

  • >> Affection
  • >> Sex
  • >> Aggression or anger
  • >> Sleep
  • >> Management of pain


Individuals who use ecstasy, use the drug because of its reported feel-good effects.

However, the negative after-effects can be more than what the user bargained for.


The negative short-term effects connected with ecstasy use are [4]:

  • >> Excessive sweating
  • >> Muscles become tense
  • >> Teeth grinding
  • >> Restless movements of the legs
  • >> In some cases, epileptic-like seizures
  • >> Increase in body temperature and increased thirst
  • >> Headaches up to 2 days later
  • >> Stomach upsets
  • >> Insomnia
  • >> High blood pressure



There are also negative short-term psychological effects, which often feel like drug withdrawal symptoms:

  • >> Hyperactivity
  • >> Feeling of having too many thoughts/ thinking too fast
  • >> Difficulty concentrating
  • >> High level of anxiety
  • >> Panic attacks
  • >> Irresponsible reckless behaviour
  • >> Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • >> Mild hallucinations (seeing/sensing things that do not exist in reality)
  • >> Feeling separated from self (depersonalisation)



In addition to these, depression is common 2 to 3 days after ecstasy use, as well as increased moodiness [8]

Individuals who use ecstasy for the first few times do not usually mind the negative short-term effects.

But persons who use ecstasy regularly have expressed how the negative feelings outweigh the positive effects [4].

Because of these negative effects, some individuals choose to detox in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare.


For the negative long-term physical effects connected with ecstasy use, these are [4]:

  • >> Liver toxicity – jaundice (yellowing of the skin), liver injury, and hepatitis
  • >> Teeth get worn due to teeth grinding and jaw clenching
  • >> Muscle aches, spasms, pains and tremors
  • >> Heart problems especially if there is already an existing heart condition
  • >> Increased chances of stroke
  • >> High blood pressure
  • >> Slowness of movement, rigidity, and unstable posture (parkinsonism)
  • >> Bilateral abducens paralysis (eye problem, usually resulting in being permanently cross-eyed)
  • >> Serotonin toxicity or serotonin syndrome [9]


Documented long-term mental/psychologically-related problems of ecstasy use are: [4]

  • >> Impairment of memory (difficulty remembering what was seen or said)
  • >> Impairment of the decision-making making process
  • >> Difficulties completing logical thinking and problem-solving tasks
  • >> Tendency to be impulsive
  • >> Tendency to lack of self-control
  • >> Increased number of panic attacks months of use has stopped
  • >> Paranoia (feeling someone is “out to get me”)
  • >> Hallucinations
  • >> Depersonalization
  • >> Flashbacks
  • >> Psychotic episodes (a break from reality where the person does something that can be described as weird or out-of-touch with reality)


Safely stopping the use of ecstasy can be done through professionally-assisted ecstasy detox and treatment at a drug rehab clinic, such as Abbeycare Scotland or Abbeycare Gloucester.


Is MDMA Used For Therapy?

MDMA is used in a clinical trial or testing capacity, in the United States.

The use of MDMA is now in Clinical Trials, Phase 3 [10].

After completing Phase 3, MDMA will be forwarded for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Foreseeably, the drug can be approved for use with persons being treated with PTSD in an out-patient setting while the person also has psychotherapy.


Ecstasy is popular recreational drug that is that has 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) [8].

But it is important to know that MDMA is NOT ecstasy/molly.

The MDMA used in the clinical trials is clinical-grade or pharmaceutical grade.

This kind of standard of purity makes MDMA suitable for use as medicine.

Meanwhile, ecstasy, which is produced illegally and with varying amounts of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, is not suitable for the treatment of diseases [8].


In a controlled setting such as a laboratory, researchers have been able to prove that MDMA can help PTSD patients by:

  • >> Helping them relax while recalling traumatic events
  • >> Helping the patient feel secure while talking about the trauma
  • >> Helping the individual develop self-empathy while reflecting on the events


The rigorous process of drug approval by the FDA is to help assure that the potential benefits of MDMA outweigh its negative side-effects.

MDMA has a potential for abuse by persons who, because of the feel-good effects of the drug, become dependent on it.

Persons who become addicted or dependent on ecstasy/MDMA/molly are usually referred to a rehab clinic for professional help.


Is MDMA Good For PTSD?

MDMA can have potential benefits for those suffering with PTSD which is currently being treated with psychotherapy.

But MDMA used together with psychotherapy in an outpatient setting is still being tested in a clinical trial [10].

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved of MDMA use outside the clinical trial.

In the UK, MDMA is a Class A drug. Using it, carrying it and selling it are acts punishable by law [11].


The MDMA used in the US clinical trials is also NOT ecstasy.

Clinically-graded MDMA has a specific dosage, and is manufactured in controlled laboratories.

Whereas ecstasy sold illegally is manufactured with different dosages of the active component.

A study has shown that street-grade ecstasy can have 67%–100% MDMA as the active ingredient [8].

Some pills can also contain less than 67%, and in some cases, there was no MDMA contained in the pills.


Recently, some ecstasy pills seized by authorities were described as “fast releasing”; while some were dubbed “double dose” types. [11]

The varying dosage in illegally produced MDMA means a person can take a high dose and sometimes a low dose, with little to no precaution.

This uncertainty and instability can lead to accidental overdose, and in worse case scenarios even death.

In raves and music festivals ecstasy is usually combined with alcohol.

Because alcohol has a diuretic effect, it can increase the toxic effects of ecstasy, causing dehydration and overheating.


In addition, unwise judgments from alcohol and ecstasy use can sometimes cause accidents to happen [12].

Persons who become dependent on the use of alcohol can detox safely by participating in an alcohol detox programme.

In a clinic such as Abbeycare, persons who have issues with alcohol and ecstasy can securely discuss their options for treatment.

Recovering from ecstasy addiction can be challenging because it means dealing with withdrawal symptoms as well as cravings for the drug.

Provided proper care and professional support, a person can learn specific techniques to overcome these challenges.



  1.   Kim, J. Fan, B. Lui, X. & Wu, P. (2011). Ecstasy Use and Suicidal Behavior Among Adolescents: Findings from a National Survey. Available at:
  2.   The Conversation. (2019). How does MDMA kill? Available at:
  3.   Chalk, W. (2017). This is what happens if you take too much MDMA. BBC UK. Avilable at:
  4.   Kalat, H. (2001). The pharmacology and toxicology of “ecstasy” (MDMA) and related drugs. CMAJ, 16597), 917-928. Available at:
  5.   Smothers, H. (2016). This Is What Sex on Ecstasy Is Like. Cosmopolitan. Available at:
  6. (2010). Paracetamol 500mg. Available at:
  7.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA). Available at:
  8.   Meyer, J. (2013). 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA): current perspectives. Subst Abuse Rehabil. 4, 83–99. Available at:
  9.   Soloway, R. (2015). Ecstasy Summary of Harmful Effects. Available at:
  10.   Multidisciplinary Association for psychedelic Studies. (2017). A Phase 3 Program of MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for the Treatment of Severe Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Available at:
  11.   BBC. (1 May 2019). MDMA: Why it’s ‘impossible’ to know how the drug affects you. Available at:
  12.   SAMSHA. (2013). Ecstasy-Related Emergency Department Visits by Young People Increased between 2005 and 2011; Alcohol Involvement Remains a Concern. Available at:

Rehab FAQ

rehabilitation centre

What Does A Rehab Do?

A rehab facility tries to help individuals who have problems with alcohol and/or drug use manage their addiction.

Most rehab clinics aim to ultimately lead clients to live sober lives.

The activities in a rehab clinic aim to:

Educate clients about alcohol and/or substance abuse

Help enlighten clients about the origins of their addictive behaviour

Remove the stigma of seeking help for addiction

Promote new ways to live without alcohol and/or drugs


A reputable rehab centre in the UK such as Abbeycare Scotland conforms to Care Quality Commission standards (CQC).

CQC Certification guarantees that : [1]

  • >> The clinic makes sure the clients are safe before they enter rehab.
  • >> National clinical guidance/rules are followed.
  • >> Employees of the clinic are professionally trained and up to par with current standards
  • >> The clinic employs adequate support staff
  • >> The centre has facilities to support treatments offered


After attending rehab, most rehab centres link with Mutual Support Groups, so clients so that recovery efforts can be sustained.

Examples of Mutual Support Groups are:

  • >> Alcoholics Anonymous
  • >> Narcotics Anonymous
  • >> Cocaine Anonymous
  • >> Women for Sobriety
  • >> SMART Recovery
  • >> Secular Organization for Sobriety/Save Our Selves
  • >> LifeRing Secular Recovery


In order to ensure success in treatment, a rehab clinic should provide : [2]

  • >> Professionally supervised detoxification
  • >> Behavioural counseling (12 Step Programme, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and so on)
  • >> Evaluation of other mental health problems
  • >> Follow-up for long-term recovery


A person seeking treatment for addiction issues would be better serviced by a rehab clinic that aims for long-term recovery rather than quick fixes.

To promote a sober living lifestyle, behavioural therapies in a rehab clinic should emphasise:

  • >> changing attitudes about alcohol and/or drug use
  • >> learning new ways to cope with stress and triggers
  • >> seeking out help through social support
  • >> improve the ability to cope with the daily demands of life
  • >> establish a sense of emotional stability and calm


In addition, clients can benefit from rehab clinics like Abbeycare Gloucester that use a holistic approach treatment.

Holistic care can help clients regain physical, social, nutritional and spiritual balance.

Holistically oriented rehab clinics can incorporate exercise, massage, and aromatherapy into their care repertoire.

Ultimately, a rehab clinic should be able to:

  • >> Influence a client to maximise his/her quality of life
  • >> Address the individual’s multi-faceted needs
  • >> Help individuals adjust to living a lifestyle without substance abuse
  • >> Direct individuals towards wellness and health
  • >> Assist the individual to return to home and community as a renewed person


What Does Rehab Consist Of?

Rehab consists of detox, behavioural therapies, and aftercare services.

Expect a rehab clinic to provide:

  • >> Conducive accommodation
  • >> Professionally Supervised Detox
  • >> A regular schedule to follow
  • >> Counseling for emotional support and behavioural change
  • >> Education about health and addiction issues
  • >> Recreation (gym facilities and fitness classes for example)
  • >> Family Participation
  • >> Relapse prevention strategy planning sessions
  • >> Continuing Care or rehab aftercare


In the morning, rehab begins with a healthy breakfast, followed by the first group meeting.

Mid-morning, therapy sessions are held (individual or group)

Depending on the clinic, there may be another afternoon therapy session or a group meeting after lunch

Time is usually allotted for breaks in-between sessions.

Some rehab facilities hold sessions in the evening.


The type of programme an individual has can depend on a personalised treatment plan.

For individual therapy sessions utilising Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, sessions last 30 to 60 minutes.

Group therapy sessions can last from 1 to 2 hours.

A private rehab clinic differs from public rehab clinics offered by the NHS.

Reasons why clients choose private rehabs are:[3].

  • >> Accessibility – no need to wait for weeks for an admission
  • >> Continuation of care provider – the professional assigned to the client sees through the whole process of treatment
  • >> In-patient care availability is limited in public rehab
  • >> Overall, the quality of services by private rehab clinics is seen as superior


However, due to financial constraints, some individuals are limited to using NHS rehab clinics.

Private rehab can be covered by insurance, while public rehab is offered free by the NHS to UK citizens.


What Is The Process Of Rehabilitation?

The process of alcohol or drug rehabilitation involves assessment, detox, rehabilitation (proper) and aftercare [4].

Specifically, alcohol or drug rehabilitation these phases are:

Phase One: Assessment

Interviews and checks are done so that the centre will have an idea of how to formulate a personalised treatment plan.

Questionnaires can be given asking the client about the history of alcohol and/or drug use.

Paperwork about insurance and other formal matters can be finalised


During this phase, clients will be interviewed about:

  • >> What substances are they currently using
  • >> When was substance use initiated? (How did it begin?)
  • >> Previous history of joining a rehab programme
  • >> His or her goals about rehab
  • >> In addition, the centre may ask about:
  • >> The client’s overall health
  • >> Education and/or work history
  • >> Details about social life
  • >> Quality of relationships with family/friends/supporting individuals


The last step of Phase One will usually be a Rehab centre orientation


Phase Two: Detoxification

The first two to three days of detox are the most challenging, physically, emotionally and mentally  [5].

But with professional guidance, the hardship can be overcome.

Emotional and physical support is crucial during detox, as individuals who go through relapse alone can be less-equipped to handle the demands of the withdrawal process.

Individuals who are well-supported during detox tend to follow-through with the rehabilitation process, assuring a better chance of life-long recovery. [2]

After one week in detox, a person is better able to handle the regular therapy sessions available in rehab.

Phase Three: Rehabilitation

During this stage, individual and/or group psychotherapy is offered

Clients learn about their motives, feelings, and hopes about addiction.

This part of rehab is where clients do the hard work of learning about themselves in a deeper level, so that they can learn new ways to cope.

Rehab clinics differ in therapy methods chosen.

A private clinic like Abbeycare offers 12 Step facilitation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Holistic therapy.


Other basic facilities only outpatient programmes or in-patient programmes with limited capacity.

Usually, therapies are composed of:

  • >> Assessment – determines where the person is in terms of the addiction and recovery process
  • >> Formulation of goals – what the client wishes to achieve after therapy
  • >> Treatment – where homework and behavioural monitoring occur


Individual Therapy in particular helps individuals to:

  • >> learn to monitor and control their thinking
  • >> discover their thinking patterns and how these lead to addiction
  • >> maintain a sense of self-control over drug cravings
  • >> learn coping skills to live alcohol or drug-free
  • >> break the cycle of substance abuse
  • >> gain an understanding of how thoughts, behaviours, and emotions relate to each other
  • >> utilise rational planning skills to cope with life’s daily challenges


Phase Four: Maintenance or Aftercare

In rehab, this phase involves strategic planning to know how to proceed after the client exits rehab.

Outside rehab, this phase can involve

Peer support groups or Mutual Support Groups (Alcohol Anonymous SMART Recovery, etc.)

Peer providers – such as certified peer specialists, peer support specialist, recovery coaches, sponsors or mentors

The rehab clinic usually connects the client to these after-care groups, as it is of utmost importance that the client is supported after rehab.

Evidence shows that clients who have continuing personalised care have better chances at recovery than persons who do not have after-care support.  [4]

How Long Is Rehab For?

The shortest stay will be for seven days, the typical stay will be 28 days, and some clients can stay up to 90 days in rehab.

Most rehab programmes in the UK last 28 to 30 days.

Some clients, however, choose longer treatment programmes.

The longest length of stay can be up to 12 weeks.

The length of stay in rehab depends on the following factors:

  • >> What substance is used
  • >> For how long has the person been using the substance
  • >> How motivated the person is to change
  • >> The amount of emotional, social, and financial support the client has


The NHS recommends individuals who need more than just detox to continue with a drug rehab programme or an alcohol rehab programme.

In a private rehab clinic, clients are not forced to stay for the duration of the rehab process.

However, leaving before the programme concludes is not recommended.

Usually, rehab facilities employ motivational techniques to keep clients to focus on the end-goal: successful sober living.  [5].

Out-patient programmes are better suited to individuals who have a moderate level of alcohol and/or substance abuse.

Recent developments in research have led experts to conclude that addiction is a treatable disorder [6].


Like some chronic conditions, relapse does occur in treatment.

But relapse does not mean failure, rather, it is a sign that change has happened, treatment is resuming, or there is a need to modify some treatment approaches.

Rehab clinics the best treatment programs address the needs of the person as a whole.

By treating addiction as a lifestyle disease much like diabetes or asthma, clients can approach their problem in a positive manner.

By removing negative self-judgment and treating addiction as a health problem, clients can move away from self-blame towards self-empowerment.




  1.   Care Quality Commission. (2019). Briefing: Substance misuse services. Available at:
  2.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Available at:
  3.   The Conversation. (2018). Drug rehab: what works and what to keep in mind when choosing a private treatment provider. Available at:
  4.   The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Available at:
  5.   NHS. (2018). Treatment Alcohol Misuse. Available at:
  6.   National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. Available at:

Intervention FAQ


How Do You Do An Intervention?

To stage an intervention, set an appropriate time and place, prepare the right mindset and most importantly, get the help of an Intervention Specialist.

First, in order to set the tone, an initial intervention should be done at a conducive place.

It is useful to remember that the end goal of this initial intervention goal is to get the concerned person professional help.


Second, in order to motivate a person with alcohol and/or substance use disorder to seek professional intervention, family members and/or loved ones must have the right mind-set.

Alcohol and/or drug addiction is a health condition requiring professional attention.

Highly-regarded evidence has shown that alcohol and/or substance use disorders can be effectively treated with comprehensive continuing care [1].

Like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, alcohol and/or drug addiction should be approached as a disease with a strong behavioural component.


The third step in staging an intervention is to invite the presence of an Intervention Specialist.

Having an Intervention Specialist or another helping professional can communicate to the concerned person that:

  • >> Nobody is “out to get them”
  • >> Family members and/or loved ones have the concerned person’s well-being in mind
  • >> Support is available/ there is adequate and professional help


Individuals with alcohol and/or substance abuse disorder tend not to be receptive if they feel harshly judged.

An intervention staged solely by family members and/or loved ones can be perceived as threatening.


There is a tendency for the concerned person to think:

“They are ganging up on me.”


Whilst, the presence of a third-party, with an objective, professional stance can communicate to the person that:

  • >> “We are here to help.”
  • >> “It is a problem we will solve together.”
  • >> “You are not alone in this.”


In addition, an Intervention Specialist can help family members and/or loved ones put together:

  • >> Well-thought-out plans about what to do next
  • >> Ideas about a possible alcohol and/or drug treatment program
  • >> A helpful and sympathetic tone to carry out the message


Because the initial intervention may be the first time the concerned person is made aware of the problems brought about by addiction, an emotional scene is almost unavoidable.

An Intervention Specialist can mediate between loved ones and the person concerned so that both parties do not feel aggravated or antagonized.

It must be remembered that this initial intervention is just a run-up to the longer process of change that the concerned person and his/her supports will face.

What Happens In An Intervention?

In an intervention, a person with substance abuse problems is approached by his or her significant others and an Intervention Consultant to talk about the difficulties caused by the addictive behaviour.

Significant others pertain to:

  • >> Adult family members – spouse/partners, siblings, parents
  • >> Adult children of the concerned individual
  • >> Community members – neighbors, members of the clergy, etc.
  • >> Friends
  • >> Colleagues at work


Working together, the significant others and the Intervention Consultant try to convince the concerned individual to go to a rehab clinic.

The particular steps taken for successful intervention are:

  1. Contacting the Intervention Consultant
  2. Family members and/or loved ones formulate a strategic Intervention Plan with the consultant; they also check in with each other
  3. The significant others write down in advance what they want to say to the concerned person
  4. A specific time and place is prepared for the event.
  5. The concerned person is gently nudged towards attending the intervention in the appointed date
  6. The significant others take turns talking about the impact of the addictive behaviours in their respective lives.
  7. The Intervention Consultant mediates between the significant others and the concerned person
  8. The most positive outcome would be for the concerned person to agree to enter treatment in a rehab clinic or a similar facility as soon as possible.


To take advantage of the opportunity as soon as it exists, it can be helpful to ensure that a slot is available for the concerned person to go to if he or she agrees to seek treatment.

In addition the following elements can lead to a successful outcome:

  • Empathic communication
  • A non-judgmental stance
  • A plan that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely (SMART)
  • And a tone that the concerned person is not condemned or judged


Even if the concerned person does not take action immediately, an intervention is not considered an utter failure.

Some individuals may take longer than others to seek help.

Often times, bringing up the issues about the concerned person’s addictive behaviour is already a powerful move.

Chances are, the concerned person would respond to the message.

Hopefully, he or she finds the motivation to change.

What Is The Purpose Of An Intervention?

The main purpose of an intervention is to help a person with health problems find ways to cope better with life.

According to health experts [2], the term “intervention” means activities aimed to improve a person’s life by:

  • preventing a disease
  • curing a disease
  • lessening the number of symptoms of a disease
  • reducing the negative impacts of the disease
  • shortening the time the disease is felt
  • restoring functions lost because of disease
  • helping the person recover or adapt to new ways of doing things after an injury


Because alcoholism and substance abuse are both considered diseases, they can be treated with interventions.

The formal term for alcoholism as a disease is “Alcohol Use Disorder”.

Meanwhile, persons who have problems with drugs have “substance use disorder”.

For these problems, an alcohol rehab facility such as Abbeycare Gloucester can help by offering interventions such as:

  • >> 12 Step Facilitation
  • >> Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • >> Family-therapy
  • >> Dialectic Based Therapy
  • >> Animal-Assisted Therapy


In a rehab clinic, an intervention can be classified according to how many people participate in the activity.

Some individuals prefer to participate in Group Therapy.

Some individuals Individual rely on Individual Therapy.

Usually, both group and individual interventions are offered side-by-side.

The logic is they complement each other.

Lessons learned from Individual Therapy can be explored in Group Therapy before being applied outside the rehab facility.

Interventions can also be classified according to the problem targeted. This is why some programs are named:

  • >> Alcohol Abuse Intervention
  • >> Drug Abuse Intervention
  • >> Substance Abuse Intervention (for simultaneous addiction to many substances, called poly-addiction)
  • >> Behavioural Addiction Intervention (for addiction to sex, gambling and pornography)


Also, there are preventive interventions geared towards changing behaviours target specific groups of people.

For example, some interventions target:

  • >> Overweight individuals to encourage exercise
  • >> Teenagers to help raise awareness of problems associated with drug use
  • >> Pregnant women to explain the benefits of breastfeeding


With these programmes, education is paramount.

However, it is not enough to merely educate the target population.

If individuals are not motivated to change, or if they lack the resources, no new skills will be learnt.

Whatever goal an intervention has, a structured environment provides much-needed support [3].

In a safe place such as a rehab clinic, a hospital, or a community centre, individuals can be adequately supported while learning essential new skills.

Specifically, structured environments help by: [4]

  • >> Reducing anxiety about unpredictable events – a person in rehab is already dealing with a lot of changes
  • >> Maintaining and monitoring group dynamics, so everybody plays fair
  • >> Providing dedicated and professional help when clients ask for it
  • >> Continuous supervision and guidance


How Long Does An Intervention Last?

An intervention can last 1.5 hours to 2 hours.

This time frame applies to initial interventions such as those intended to motivate individuals with substance alcohol and/or substance abuse issues to seek professional help.

Taken from guidelines used in time-limited group therapy [5], 1 to 2 hours would be enough time for a group of people to discuss a tough issue such as substance abuse without causing fatigue.

As for interventions that happen inside a rehab clinic or an outpatient program, the duration of an intervention depends on the specific type of intervention.

  • >> For individual therapy sessions –  45 to 50 minutes [6]
  • >> For group therapy sessions –  75-120 minutes [7].


Recent research says that 15 to 20 sessions can be good enough for 50% of individuals to say the treatment done was effective.  [8]:

Some psychological conditions can take 12 to 16 weekly sessions for significant changes to occur.

Mostly, therapists and their clients prefer to continue treatment over longer periods of time in order to reap the positive benefits.

Some therapists and clients use up 20 to 30 sessions, lasting a period of six months.

The amount of time spent in therapy or intervention depends on the problem tackled.

With alcohol and/or substance abuse, inpatient treatment in a rehab clinic lasts approximately 28 days.

Therapeutic interventions that happen within the rehab facility are generally conducted twice a day, lasting form one hour to two hours.

In a structured environment typical of a rehab clinic, interventions are expected to:

  • >> Foster independence and feelings of competence
  • >> Encourage self-efficacy
  • >> Help restore planning and decision-making skills
  • >> Decrease challenging and/or aggressive behavior
  • >> Promote engagement in community
  • >> Facilitate friendly social interactions with others
  • >> Provide predictability in day-to-day functions


After the duration of the rehab stay, clients are encouraged to keep in touch with therapists and to seek further help if needed.


  1.   US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Available at:
  2.   Smith. P., Morrow, R.H., & Ross D.A. (eds.) (2015). Field Trials of Health Interventions: A Toolbox. 3rd edition. Available at:
  3.   Yen, I. Syme, S. (1999). The Social Environment and Health: A discussion of the Epidemiologic Literature. Available at:
  4.   The Conversation. (2019). How rehab helps heavy drug and alcohol users think differently. Available at:
  5.   Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (1999). Brief Interventions and Brief Therapies for Substance Abuse. Available at:
  6.   American Psychological Association. (2019). Understanding psychotherapy and how it works. Available at:
  7.   Group Therapy. Available at:
  8.   American Psychological Association. (2019). How Long Will It Take for Treatment to Work? Available at:

Alcoholism FAQ


Do Alcoholics Die Early?

Alcoholics can die earlier than individuals who never had an addiction to alcohol.

According to recent research in Manchester, alcohol-addicted individuals die 7.6 years earlier on average than patients without an experience of the disease [1].

Meanwhile, a study done in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden found out that patients with alcohol addiction live 24–28 years shorter than the rest of the population [2].

Women who have been hospitalized for alcohol use disorder are expected to live up to the age of 50–58 years  [2].

Men who have been hospitalized for alcohol use disorder are expected to live up to the age of 47–53 years [2].


There is a general consensus among researchers that world-wide that women tend to live longer than men [3].

Experts cite various biological, behavioural, and environmental factors not specifically connected to alcoholism as a condition.


Alcohol addiction is a preventable disease.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is the formal term for alcohol addiction.


AUD is a characterised by the inability to stop or control alcohol use despite negative social, occupational (work), or health consequences [4].

The cure for alcohol addiction is life-long abstinence from alcohol.

However, to make it easier for AUD sufferers, addiction experts approach the problem step-by-step.


Individuals who have AUD are given the suggestion not to suddenly stop using alcohol without professional support, as sudden withdrawal could be life-threatening. [5]


According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or NIAAA (US), the most common diseases that AUD sufferers die from are: [4]

  • >> liver cirrhosis (last stage of liver disease)
  • >> cancer of the mouth
  • >> cancer of the oesophagus
  • >> cancer of the pharynx
  • >> cancer of the larynx
  • >> cancer of the liver
  • >> cancer of the breast


Other life-threatening diseases include alcohol-related pancreatitis and complications of heart disease.

Additionally, deadly vehicular accidents can be caused by drunk driving.

Liver disease, the most-occurring medical condition that an alcoholic suffers from has four distinct stages [5].


Stage One: Alcoholic fatty liver disease

In this stage, there are usually no obvious symptoms apart from pain in the upper right side of the abdomen. Liver cells could be damaged and the liver could be inflamed [5].


Stage Two: Alcoholic Hepatitis

  • >> The most obvious symptom is yellowing of the skin (jaundice) [5].
  • >> Alcoholic hepatitis can be classified as mild or severe. In the most severe cases, kidney and liver failure can occur.
  • >> Serious symptoms can show up without warning
  • >> Can be triggered in alcoholics by consuming a heavy amount of alcohol



Stage Three: Fibrosis

  • Experts have identified two specific brain areas that alcohol affects [6].
  • >> When the liver is continuously and repeatedly damaged by alcoholic hepatitis, it forms scar tissues.
    • >> Scar tissue formation is the main feature of fibrosis.
    • >> Scar tissues block blood flow to and in the liver.
    • >> Blood pressure in the portal vein, which carried blood to the intestine to the liver, also increases with fibrosis patients


Stage Four: Cirrhosis [6]

  • >> At this stage, liver damage is permanent.
  • >> Scarring that began with fibrosis is wide-spread in liver cirrhosis.
  • >> However, a person can still survive this disease if it is professionally intervened.
  • >> Symptoms come from liver failure and portal hypertension
  • >> The patient is also at risk of liver cancer
  • >> Liver failure can manifest in difficulty digesting and absorbing food, bleeding, and problems thinking clearly.
  • >> While a sign of portal hypertension is passing blood through the rectum.


Is Alcoholism A Disease Or Addiction?

Alcoholism is considered a disease. Formally it is called Addiction Use Disorder. AUD is an addictive disorder characterised by the need to use alcohol even if faced with negative consequences [7].

Individuals who suffer from AUD are successfully treated with professional help from addiction experts in a rehab clinic.

Because it is a lifestyle disease like hypertension and diabetes, a person with AUD needs to make lifestyle changes.


Lifestyle changes are implemented best if psychotherapy and psycho-social interventions are utilised.

Currently, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and 12 Step Facilitation are the most popular forms of psychosocial intervention. [4]


As an addiction, AUD manifests itself in physical and behavioural symptoms.

The physical symptoms of AUD are largely brought about when the person tries to quit drinking.


Meanwhile, psychological symptoms include craving alcohol, being preoccupied with alcohol, and having difficulty performing expected responsibilities because of alcohol use.

Addiction experts determine the diagnosis of AUD by taking a person’s history and conducting specific assessments.

AUD is rated as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the individuals’ symptoms, physical as well as psychological.


The NIAAA defines AUD as a “chronic relapsing brain disease”, meaning:

  • >> Scientific studies have shown alcoholism is a problem at the level of the brain
  • >> Alcoholism is not a matter of will, self-discipline or morals
  • >> If left without treatment, it will progress, causing the individual more harm
  • >> Relapse will likely occur if the person is not adequately supported in treatment


As signs of problem drinking become obvious, it is wise to immediately seek treatment.

Many individuals can be functioning alcoholics or grey area drinkers.

Functional alcoholics or high functioning alcoholics are likely to  [9]:

  • >> Keep their jobs
  • >> Perform parental duties
  • >> Keep problematic drinking behaviour a secret
  • >> Experience emotional problems such as anxiety or depression
  • >> Can have emotional problems at a level that is not yet a mental health condition
  • >> Fall into the category of Mild AUD


Meanwhile, grey area drinkers also exhibit problematic behaviours associated with AUD, but their number of symptoms do not qualify them to the full diagnosis of AUD.

Grey area drinkers may not have the correct number of symptoms to have AUD, but their drinking is already causing them problems in day-to-day life.


Most grey area drinkers shy away from alcohol rehab or therapy because they do not outright believe they are sick.

Some grey area drinkers are also not ready for treatment because they have not “hit rock bottom”.[10]

Sadly, this way of thinking can be detrimental to a person’s physical, psychological, and emotional health.


Individuals who are in AUD treatment are given the procedure to gradually reduce alcohol intake.

Professionally managed detox also involves use of medication to ease the withdrawal symptoms.

Individuals who suffer from AUD are encouraged to approach this disease as a health issue to take away the stigma of seeking cure.


Is It Safe To Stop Drinking Cold Turkey?

It is not safe to stop drinking alcohol cold turkey [11]

According to addiction experts, persons who quit cold turkey, meaning, suddenly stopping alcoholic consumption, without help or professional intervention, are at risk of:

  • >> Delirium Tremens (DT) – a severe reaction after stopping alcohol, occurring 2-3 days after their last drink.
    • >> DT could be fatal.
    • >> DT is caused by changes in the brain due to heavy drinking
    • >> Symptoms of DT are:
    • >> Trembling of the hands and feet
    • >> Feeling agitated or very irritated
    • >> The person is confused about where s/he is or what s/he is doing
    • >> Seeing and hearing things that are not there (hallucinating)
    • >> Convulsions (in the form of grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures)


  • >> Kindling – Worsening of alcohol withdrawal symptoms every time an attempt to quit is performed. Symptoms include [12]:
    • >> Depression
    • >> Anxiety
    • >> Irritability
    • >> Panic attacks
    • >> Difficulty sleeping, staying asleep, and early morning awakenings (EMA)
    • >> Emotionally unable to cope with the daily demands of life


  • >> High rate of relapse – Due to the desire to stop the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol, AUD sufferers tend to use alcohol to self-medicate. Scientific data has shown: [13]
    • >> 79% of untreated individuals do not achieve abstinence from alcohol
    • >> 20 to 50% of individuals who did not seek treatment relapse (percentage depends on the severity of alcohol addiction)
    • >> 40% of treated individuals were able to be problem-free from alcohol up to one year after treatment
    • >> 43% of treated individuals stayed sober three years after joining a treatment program


How Can I Stop Drinking So Much?

The safest way to stop drinking so much is to do alcohol detox with professional intervention.

Quitting alcohol with proper help tends to:

  • >> Be safer
  • >> Guarantee a better success rate
  • >> Prevent the chance or a relapse


Professional intervention can be in the form of inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab.

Home detox for mild cases of Alcohol Use Disorder can also be arranged.

To keep motivated in drinking too much, a person needs to go dive deep into the motivations that keep him or her drinking.

Careful examination of these motives is best done with counseling or psychosocial interventions.

12 Step Facilitation, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Based Therapy, and Holistic Therapy are found to be successful in combating alcoholism [14].

In the US, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines Drinking at Low Risk for Developing Alcohol Addiction as

  • >> Women: No more than 3 drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week.
  • >> Men: No more than 4 drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.


One drink = 14 grams of pure alcohol (US measures)


In the UK, The Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines for both men and women [15] is:

  • >> Do not drink regularly more than 14 units per week
  • >> If a person does drink as much as 14 units per week, it is recommended to spread this amount evenly over 3 days or more.
  • >> Heavy drinking sessions are not recommended


According to the NHS [16], 14 units Alcohol in the UK means:

  • >> 14 single measures of spirits (ABV 37.5%)
  • >> 7 pints of average-strength (4%) lager
  • >> About 9 and one-third 125ml glasses of average-strength (12%) wine
  • >> 7 glasses of 175ml average-strength (12%) wine
  • >> About 4 four 250ml glasses of average-strength (12%) wine



  1.   Universitat Bonn. 2016. Alcohol study yields surprising results. [Press Release]. Available at:
  2.   Westman, et. al. (2015). Mortality and life expectancy of people with alcohol use disorder in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. Available at:
  3.   Ortiz-Ospina, E. & Beltekian D. (2018). Why do women live longer than men? Our World in Data. Available at:
  4.   National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2019). Alcohol Facts and Statistics. Available at:
  5.   Felman, A. (2018). What’s to know about alcoholic liver disease? Medical News Today. Available at:
  6.   Orfanidis, N. (2015). Overview of Vascular Disorders of the Liver. In Merck Manuals. Available at:
  7.   Thompson, W. (2011). Alcoholism Clinical Presentation. In Medscape. Available at:
  8.   Science Daily. (2019, April 2). Study reveals genes associated with heavy drinking and alcoholism. Science Daily. Available at:
  9.   National Institutes of Health. (2015). Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes. Available at:
  10.   Gonzales, G. At 30, My Gray Area Drinking Problem Spiraled Into Alcoholism—and I Lost My Dream Job. Prevention. Available at:
  11.   Tidy, C. (2018). Alcohol Withdrawal and Alcohol Detoxification. Patient Info. Available at:
  12.   Modesto-Lowe, V., Huard, J. & Conrad, C. (2005). Alcohol Withdrawal Kindling: Is There a Role for Anticonvulsants? Psychiatry, 2(5), 25–31. Available at:
  13.   Moos, R. & Moos, B. (2006). Rates and predictors of relapse after natural and treated remission from alcohol use disorders. Addiction, 101(2), 212-222. Available at:
  14.   Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. (2018). Available at:
  15.   UK Department of Health. (2016). Chief Medical Officers’ Alcohol Guidelines Review. Available at:
  16.   NHS. (2018). Alcohol units. Available at:

Alcohol And Other Drugs In The Workplace


An Overview

■ 6.6% of Americans employed in full-time jobs report heavy drinking, defined as drinking five or more drinks per occasion on five or more days in the past 30 days; 4.9% of part-timers and 10.4% of unemployed workers also report heavy drinking; the highest percentage of heavy drinkers (12.2%) is found among unemployed adults ages 26 to 34.1

■ Up to 40% of industrial fatalities and 47% of industrial injuries can be linked to alcohol consumption
and alcoholism.2

■ 60% of alcohol-related work performance problems can be attributed to employees who are not alcohol
dependent, but who occasionally drink too much on a work night or drink during a weekday lunch.3

■ 21% of workers reported being injured or put in danger, having to re-do work or to cover for a co-
worker, or needing to work harder or longer due to others’ drinking!’

■ Shortfalls in productivity and employment among individuals with alcohol or other drug-related
problems cost the American economy $80.9 billion in 1992, of which $66.7 billion is attributed to alcohol
and $14.2 billion to other drugs.5

■ Although 70% of all current adult illegal drug users ages 18 to 49 are employed full-time, use of most illicit drugs is substantially higher among the unemployed.’

■ Employees who were in serious trouble with alcohol showed significant improvement in drinking behavior and job adjustment during the months immediately following an intervention to confront problem drinking that was intruding on their work.

■ Drug testing as part of the hiring process is the most frequently used testing program reported by workers, followed by testing upon suspicion (30%) and post-accident (29%); about one quarter of workers report random drug testing on the job.


The Risks

■ Work roles with little or no supervision, and those characterized by high mobility, are associated with increased rates of problem drinking.

■ Numerous studies suggest a significant relationship between work stress and the development of drinking problems.

■ In general, unmarried workers (divorced, separated, or never married) have about twice the rate of illicit drug and heavy alcohol use as married workers.

■ Workers who report having three or more jobs in the previous five years are about twice as likely to be current or past year illicit drug users as those who have had two or fewer jobs.


Prevalence By Occupation

■ The highest rates of current and past year illicit drug use are reported by workers in the following occupations: construction, food preparation, and waiters and waitresses. Heavy alcohol use followed a similar pattern, although auto mechanics, vehicle repairers, light truck drivers and laborers also have high rates of alcohol use.

■ The lowest rates of illicit drug use are found among workers in the following occupations: police and
detectives, administrative support, teachers and child care workers. The lowest rates of heavy alcohol
use are among data clerks, personnel specialists and secretaries.


The Cost

■ Individuals with drinking problems or alcoholism at any time in their lives suffered income reductions ranging from 1.5% to 18.7% depending on age and sex compared with those with no such diagnosis.

■ Absenteeism among alcoholics or problem drinkers is 3.8 to 8.3 times greater than normal and up to 16 times greater among all employees with alcohol and other drug-related problems.18 Drug-using employees take three times as many sick benefits as other workers. They are five times more likely to file a worker’s compensation claim.

■ Non-alcoholic members of alcoholics’ families use ten times as much sick leave as members of families in which alcoholism is not present.


Employee Assistance Programs

■ For every dollar invested in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), employers generally save anywhere from $5-$16. The average annual cost for an EAP ranges from $12-$20 per employee.

■ 45% of full-time employees who are not self-employed have access to an EAP provided by their employer but within a single year only 1.5% use an EAP because of alcohol or other drug-related problems.


Treatment Issues

■ Studies suggest that employees who are pressured into treatment by their employers are slightly more likely to recover from their alcoholism and improve their performance than those who are not so pressured.

■ Research indicates that alcoholism treatment can yield significant reductions in total health care costs and utilization for an alcoholic and his or her family.



‘National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA): Main Findings 1997, 4199, p. 111. 2M Bernstein & JJ Mahoney, “Management Perspectives on Alcoholism: The Employer’s Stake in Alcoholism Treatment,” Occupational Medicine, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1989, pp. 223-232. 3TVV Magione, et. al., New Perspectives for Worksite Alcohol Strategies: Results from a Corporate Drinking Study, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc., Boston, MA, 12/98, p. 1. ‘Ibid., p.2. 5NIDA and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “The Economic Cost of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, 1992 (preprint copy), 5/98, p. 5-1. 6US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) news release, 9/8/99. ‘NIDA, National Household Survey on Drug Abuse: Race/Ethnicity, Socioeconomic Status, and Drug Abuse 1991, 12/93, p. 19. 8NIAAA, Alcohol Health & Research

World (AHRW): Alcohol and the Workplace, Vol. 16, No. 2, 1992, p. 147. 9SAMHSA, Worker Drug Use and Workplace Policies and
Programs: Results from the 1994 and 1997 NHSDA, 9/99, p. 3. “NIAAA, AHRW, op,cit., p. 107. “Ibid. ‘2SAMHSA, Drug Use Among US
Workers: Prevalence and Trends by Occupation and Industry Categories, 5/96, p. 1. “Ibid. “Ibid. “Ibid. “NIAAA, Eighth Special Report
to US Congress on Alcohol and Health, 9/93, p. 256. “Bernstein & Mahoney, op,cit. “US Department of Labor (USDL), What Works:
Workplaces Without Drugs, 8/90, p. 3. 19TE Backer, Strategic Planning for Workplace Drug Abuse Programs, NIDA, 1987, p, 4.
20Bernstein & Mahoney, op.cit. 2IUSDL, op.cit., p. 17. 22NIAAA, AHRW, op.cit., p. 121. 23Ibid., p.132. 24HD Holder & JO Blose, “Alcoholism
Treatment and Total Health Care Utilization and Costs: A Four-Year Longitudinal Analysis of Federal Employees,” Journal of the American Medical Association, No. 256, 1986, pp. 1456-1460.

Alcohol FAQ

Alcohol FAQ

What Is Alcohol And Why Is It Bad For You?

“Alcohol” usually means “alcoholic drinks”.

Alcoholic drinks have popular appeal, but many individuals are affected by it because alcohol contains ethanol.

Ethanol is the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks.


But ethanol is toxic because it affects the nervous system negatively if the amount used is excessive [1].

When alcohol poisoning happens due to too much ethanol in the body, serious health problems occur.

Some cases of alcohol poisoning can cause coma and death.


In addition, alcohol is also considered an addictive drug [2].

When alcohol is initially consumed, it acts as a stimulant, meaning, it energises a person.

As the person consumes more alcohol, a depressant or slowing-down effect happens [2].

Ethanol in alcohol can stimulate (excite) or depress (slow down) a person’s reactions depending on the person’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

BAC can be measured by breathalyser, which is a hand-held device that can measure BAC rapidly [3].


The major reasons why individuals use alcohol are:

  • >> To socialize
  • >> To relax
  • >> To celebrate special occasions


Drinking alcohol is important in many cultures, where “social drinking” or drinking with other people is part of bonding [4].

After consuming an alcoholic beverage, the body does not digest it. Instead, alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly through the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines).


Because alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly, the effects of alcohol are immediately obvious.

In moderate amounts, the good effects of alcohol are: [5]

  • >> Giving the person a “beer buzz”, a feel-good effect brought about by endorphin release in the brain
  • >> Can relax a person so that worries and bothersome thoughts are tuned out
  • >> Can initially help a person fall asleep
  • >> Possibly contributing to heart health, especially if alcohol consumed is red wine


However, some individuals become addicted to alcohol. To recover, they opt to join a rehab centre.


Experts have identified two specific brain areas that alcohol affects [6].

These are:

  • >> Nucleus accumbens – controlling the reward and pleasure experience
  • >> Orbitofrontal cortex – involved in planning and decision making


Because these two areas are specifically affected, individuals who are addicted to alcohol tend to have long-term problems which include:

  • Controlling the amounts of alcohol they consume
  • Drinking even if the consequences will be dire (being in trouble with the law, family conflicts, etc.)
  • Difficulty coming up with and following a plan, especially about quitting alcohol
  • Having problems with following specific instructions unless guided by supportive persons
  • A tendency to experience depression of alcohol is not consumed
  • The likelihood of being addicted to other substances other than alcohol, as the neuropathways for drug addiction are the same brain areas affected by alcohol addiction


To recover from alcohol addiction, individuals can use NHS services or join a rehab clinic, such as Abbeycare The Hygrove, Gloucester.


Usually, how alcohol affects an individual depends on the following factors:

  • >> Bodyweight
  • >> Male or female
  • >> Nutritional state (well-nourished, over-nourished or malnourished)
  • >> General health status
  • >> Usage and exposure to other drugs


How Is Alcohol Made?

Alcohol used as alcoholic beverages is made by the process of fermentation [7].

Fermentation occurs when yeasts are put into carbohydrates and left to mature.


The yeasts can be from a wild or a cultivated strain. Most alcoholic products use “Saccharomyces cerevisiae” or “Saccharomyces uvarum” as yeast agents [8].

The carbohydrates that the yeast comes into contact with can be from:

  • >> grapes
  • >> malted barley
  • >> malted wheat
  • >> rice
  • >> corn (maize)
  • >> potatoes
  • >> millet


The combination of yeast and carbohydrates are usually left to ferment in a vessel with a maintaining temperature (so as not to kill the yeast).


Manufacturers also add:

  • >> Diammonium phosphate – to improve yeast growth
  • >> Hops – as a preservative and to make beer taste bitter


The process by which alcoholic beverages are made is called anaerobic fermentation.

The end result of anaerobic fermentation is ethanol, which is the intoxicating ingredient of alcoholic drinks [7].

The carbohydrates eaten by the yeast also produce carbon dioxide.

The quantity of ethanol and carbon dioxide as an end result is because of the unique combination of the yeast agent and the fermenting ingredient.

This unique combination is why there are distinct flavours and types of alcoholic beverages.


There are specific ways of classifying alcohol products, depending on government regulations and traditional rules.

In the UK, the government regulates the production, sale, and consumption of alcoholic drinks.

For taxation purposes, UK alcoholic drinks are classified according to:  [9]

  • >> Spirits – whisky (wholly malt or wholly grain), blended whisky
  • >> Cider and Perry – sparkling or still
  • >> Beer
  • >> Wine and made-wine
  • >> Low alcohol beverages – these are wines that have an alcoholic strength no higher than 5.5% or made-wine with no more than 5.5% alcohol content.


There is a predominant belief that the type of alcohol a person consumes contributes to the aftereffects he or she feels.

Some people perceive that:

  • >> Beer makes a person more friendly or sociable
  • >> Tequila makes a person “crazy”
  • >> Gin makes a person feel tearful


But alcoholic drinks only affects individuals in two concrete ways, namely alcoholic concentration and alcohol-related beliefs [10]:

Spirits have a high concentration of alcohol compared to beer or wine. Usually, spirits are also consumed quickly. Because spirits are drinks with a high amount of sugar, bloodstream absorption is quick. This is why spirits have a stronger kick.


Meanwhile, beer is generally lower in alcohol content than spirits. The usual consumption of beers involves a social set-up. This is one of the main reasons why we perceive the consumption of beer as relaxing.

Applied psychology has been used to increase the appeal of alcoholic drinks to the general public by enhancing its good qualities and downplaying its potential for abuse.

In recent years, efforts have been made to sell beverages that are low in alcohol or alcohol-free, so that individuals who want to socialise with friends who drink will not feel left out.


Among the three types of alcohol, only food-grade ethanol is safe for human consumption [7].

The three types of alcohol, when classified according to chemical make-up, are isopropyl, methyl, and ethyl.

Isopropyl alcohol is used as rubbing alcohol, nail polish solvent, aftershave lotions, hand lotions, and other cosmetic products.


Methyl alcohol is used as an ingredient in antifreeze, rocket fuels, and as a clean-burning fuel alternative.

There is also an industrial grade of ethanol, and this is a solvent added to gasoline used in cars.


How Do You Know If Alcohol Is Affecting Your Health?

When individuals exhibit certain physical symptoms, it is an indication that alcohol is affecting their health. These physical symptoms are : [11]

  • >> Breathing difficulties
  • >> Coughing up blood
  • >> Irregular heart rate (too fast or too slow)
  • >> Frequent diarrhoea
  • >> Frequent Stomach upsets
  • >> Muscle weakness or shaking
  • >> Numbness in hands and feet


In addition, there are also behavioural symptoms that indicate alcohol is affecting a person’s health. These behavioural symptoms are:

  • >> It takes more alcohol than before to achieve the desired effects of alcohol (a sign of alcohol dependence)
  • >> Drinking alcohol even if there are negative consequences
  • >> Mood swings
  • >> Seems to keep on forgetting things (memory loss)
  • >> Blackouts, which are periods of time when a person loses consciousness and forgets what has happened for quite some time
  • >> Slurred speech or mumbling and poor pronunciation of words
  • >> Feeling tired all the time
  • >> Difficulty going to sleep without consuming alcohol


With adolescents or teenagers, drinking can: [12]

  • >> Impair the development of memory skills, long-term thinking skills and learning skills
  • >> Harm the liver by disrupting the levels of liver enzymes
  • >> Disrupt hormonal balance critical for the development of organs, muscles and bones
  • >> Affect the reproductive system which is still in development during adolescence


Immediate intervention in a rehab facility can successfully stop teenage drinking so that alcohol addiction does not progress as a life-long disease.

To differentiate what moderate consumption of alcohol is versus alcohol addiction, we must refer to the presence of physical and psychological symptoms.


Casual drinking is when a person consumes alcohol in moderation. There are minimal physical symptoms and there is an absence of psychological symptoms.

Alcohol addiction is an illness characterised by the presence of physical and psychological symptoms. There is a great chance that a person who has alcohol addiction may be in denial.

Some individuals only seek help when they are affected socially by their behaviours. Ideally, persons who notice that a loved one is having problems with drinking behaviour should approach the situation as a health concern.


We must also bear in mind that not all persons who are addicted to alcohol hit rock bottom. There are so-called “grey area drinkers.”

“Grey area drinkers” are functional alcoholics. Most of these individuals are able to appear responsible enough, fulfilling daily obligations. But they experience alcohol dependence symptoms.

The main factors that influence drinking behaviour are:  [4]

  • >> To help cope with stress
  • >> Because of social influences


As a result, persons who have successfully transitioned from alcohol addiction to addiction recovery find non-addictive ways to cope with stress.

Help by other people through Mutual Support Groups serve as positive social influences that steer a person away from alcohol addiction.


Joining an alcohol rehab program, especially one that is structured has been proven as an effective way to kick-start recovery.

Recently, there is a trend called “sober living”, another term for abstinence from alcohol. Apparently, there is an underlying desire to change the image of alcoholism as a disease.

Instead, the focus is on living the best life without alcohol. Hence, a person who is recovering from alcoholism can call himself or herself a “sober warrior” instead of a “recovering alcoholic”.

The practice of Dry January is slowly gaining momentum in the UK.



  1.   Encyclopaedia Briatnnica. (2019). Ethanol: Chemical Compound. Available at:
  2.   National Institute of Health. (2011). Curriculum Supplement Series: Alcohol. Available at:
  3.   British Medical Journal. (2002). Alcohol Breath Testing. Available at:
  4.   Abbey, A., Smith, M. J. & Scott, R. (1993). The relationship reasons for drinking alcohol and alcohol consumption: An interactional approach. Addiction Behavior, 18(6), 659–670. Available at:
  5. (2019). Alcohol. Available at:
  6.   Thayer et. al. (2012). Nucleus Accumbens Volume Is Associated with Frequency of Alcohol Use among Juvenile Justice-Involved Adolescents. Brain Science, 2(4), 605-618. Available at:
  7.   Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019). Alcoholic Beverage. Available at:
  8.   Lumen. (2018). The Microbiology of Food. Available at:
  9.   United Kingdom Government. (2019). Guidance: UK Trade Tariff: Excise Duties, Reliefs, Drawbacks and Allowances. Available at:
  10.   National Health Service. (2017). Different alcoholic drinks may trigger different emotions; many of them negative. Available at:
  11.   Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health. Available at:
  12.   National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2011). Alcohol Use Disorder. Available at:

Spice FAQ

Spice FAQ

What Is Spice Drug Used For?

Spice is a drug used to get high. It is a synthetic cannabinoid, which is a machine-made drug mimicking the chemical compounds found in marijuana [1].

In the UK, Spice is banned. Spice is one of the many drugs previously called “legal highs” [2].

Legal highs are machine-made drugs designed to work like cocaine, ecstasy and speed.


The way these drugs were made, manufacturers tweaked them in order to evade The Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA).

Up until 2016, legal highs were allowed for sale in the UK.

After amending the law in May 2016, Spice was made illegal.

The new law also meant “headshops” that sell drug paraphernalia are scrutinised.


“Not Safe for Human Consumption”

To get around the law, manufacturers of Spice and other Legal High products alter the chemical components of their merchandise.

Spice products are also presented in colourful packaging with the label “not fit for human consumption”, which seemingly warns the public of its adverse effects.

But the packaging and the warning appear to be very misleading.


The majority of Spice users are young people, who are led to think that the effects of Spice are similar to weed. After all, Spice could hide under the name, “Fake Weed”.

But Spice and other legal high products pose a health hazard to individuals who experiment with them.

The sad truth is there are many A&E incidents due to Spice usage. This is heart-breaking, especially for the parents and family members of young users.


How Addictive Is K2 Spice?

Spice tends to be as addictive as the “natural” drug it was designed to mimic, cannabis.

However, in a recent report, commissioners have been actively campaigning for Spice to be categorised as a “Class A” drug [3].

Class A drugs include heroin and cocaine, which are highly addictive and dangerous drugs.


Officials have also urged to government to make the use of Spice a public health issue.

The process of manufacturing Spice varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, because of this variance, how negative it affects individuals differs for each kind of product.

In the illegal market, Spice can be sold under the following labels:

  • >> Synthetic marijuana
  • >> Herbal incense
  • >> Herbal smoking blend
  • >> Mr. Happy
  • >> Mojo
  • >> Bliss
  • >> Genie
  • >> Scoobie Snax
  • >> Mamba
  • >> Fake Weed


Physical signs of addiction to Spice are [4].

  • >> Developing a tolerance for Spice – need more and more of the drug in order to feel high
  • >> Withdrawal symptoms when cutting down or trying to stop the usage of Spice


Unlike physical signs of addiction, some individuals ignore psychological dependence symptoms, labeling these behaviours as “acting out”.

As a result, psychological signs of addiction to spice sometimes overlooked.


These psychological symptoms, which are originally for Cannabis Use Disorder are [4].

  • >> Using more Spice than initially planned
  • >> Trying but being unable to cut down the usage of Spice
  • >> Spending way too much time obtaining and using Spice
  • >> Not enjoying activities previously enjoyed, preferring usage of Spice instead
  • >> Continued usage of Spice even if problems at work or school are caused by it
  • >> Not fulfilling financial and/or family obligations
  • >> Financial problems due to buying Spice


Some individuals chose to have professionally assisted detox in a drug rehab clinic in order to deal with the physical and psychological issues associated with Spice addiction.

The chance of relapse is lower when professional help is sought, improving the outlook of a person trying to recover.


How Does Spice Drug Work?

Spice affects the same parts of the brain cannabis does [5].

Having the same effect on the brain’s receptors as THC but in a stronger more unpredictable manner, Spice specifically works by:

  • >> elevating mood – producing feelings associated with happiness
  • >> making individuals fee relaxed
  • >> altering how individuals perceive things, which can make persons more aware or vigilant
  • >> creating a sense of detachment
  • >> affecting the part of the brain that distinguishes reality from fantasy, which can lead to having hallucinations.


In addition, Spice works in parts of the brain controlling a person’s:

  • >> Memory
  • >> Sexual activity
  • >> Pain management
  • >> Moods
  • >> Appetite
  • >> Attention


How Long Does It Take For Spice to Kick In?

By smoking Spice, the effects usually start to kick in between 5 to 30 minutes.

By swallowing spice, the effects are noticed 4−6 hours afterward [6].


How Long Does K2 High Last?

The high felt after taking Spice lasts several hours; with some individuals, the effects can be felt up to seven hours after using the drug [4].

Spice can stay in the body longer than a month, as it has been documented that storage is primarily through a person’s fatty tissues.

After 41 days in the body, half of the amount used is excreted (drug half-life). About half of the remaining Spice in the body would need some more time to be completely eliminated [7].

The effects of Spice can be felt for up to 24 hours after use. But most research efforts show that Spice is felt most intensely 1 to 8 hours after being smoked [7].

What Are The Side Effects Of K2 Spice?

The side effects of using spice are: [4]

  • >> vomiting (with or without blood)
  • >> nausea
  • >> hallucinations
  • >> heart palpitations
  • >> seizures
  • >> extreme anxiety
  • >> high level of irritability
  • >> violent behaviours such as destruction of property, harming other persons
  • >> suicidal thoughts


To understand addiction to Spice better, we need to know that individuals who use Spice are motivated by:  [7]

  • >> wanting to get “high”
  • >> avoid detection from drug testing
  • >> [previous] legality of Spice
  • >> curiosity
  • >> liking the effects
  • >> readily available in “headshops” or internet sources
  • >> for relaxation
  • >> lower cost than other mind-altering substances

In addition, some individuals are more at risk of using Spice than others [4].


Usually, these at-risk individuals are described as:

  • >> Previous or current users of cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, and other addictive substances
  • >> With less than 10 years of formal education
  • >> Has a family member who has a substance abuse problem
  • >> Has a family member with depression, anxiety or bipolar mood disorder
  • >> Has a family member with mental health disorder associated with personality difficulties.
  • >> (Examples of personality problems are: borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder)

Can You Die From Spice?

Individuals have been reported to die from using spice.

In 2018, Spice was on 60 deaths certificates in England and Wales [8].

There have been 27 cases of deaths due to Spice overdose between 2015 to 2016 [9].

Recently, nine minor age individuals collapsed after inhaling Spice through vaping [8].

Can K2 Cause Permanent Psychosis?

Using spice could trigger acute psychosis, not permanent psychosis [10]:

Acute psychosis lasts for a short time, progresses quickly and is obviously noticed.

Signs of acute psychosis are: [11]

  • >> Being awake, but in a “zombie-like” condition
  • >> Hallucinations -seeing, hearing, and noticing objects that are not really present; sometimes talking to persons who do not actually exist or are already deceased
  • >> Dissociation – feeling separated from one’s own body, “floating above my body”
  • >> Disorganised thinking or thoughts
  • >> Changes in mood and behaviour, especially hyperactive thoughts
  • >> Persecutory delusions “someone is out to get me”
  • >> Delusions of reference “the person in TV is talking to me”; “they are always gossiping about me”
  • >> Delusion of grandeur – feeling exceptionally wealthy, strong, powerful etc. without factual evidence
  • >> Sexual delusions – including beliefs that s/he is being sexually pursued even by persons they do know personally
  • >> Fantastic delusions –  common themes are science fiction, religion, and supernatural phenomena


In the US, “spiceophrenia”  was a term created by Addiction Specialists to describe how Spice-induced psychosis is similar to schizophrenia, a psychiatric disorder.

The populations most affected by Spice misuse are teenagers and young adults [11].

Research has shown that using “regular cannabis” in adolescence is likely to increase the risk of risk of psychosis in individuals [4].

It could be argued that this risk of psychosis in adult life is magnified by the usage of synthetic cannabinoids like Spice.

Aside from psychosis, individuals under the age of 21 who use cannabis and Spice are a high risk for long term cognitive impairments (brain function damage).

The damage is potentially irreversible and could mean:  [12]

  • >> problematic decision-making skills
  • >> tendency to take inappropriate risks
  • >> impulsivity
  • >> difficulty remembering information presented (working memory damage)

Does K2 Have Withdrawal Symptoms?

K2 or Spice has withdrawal symptoms. These behaviours are most severe when individuals try to quit Spice on their own (or “quitting cold turkey”) [4].

These withdrawal symptoms mean that a person trying to stop Spice use will express how awful s/he is without using Spice.

Sometimes, the person will continue using Spice “just to feel normal”.

Spice withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • >> diarrhoea
  • >> loss of appetite
  • >> nausea
  • >> vomiting
  • >> anxiety and restlessness
  • >> depression
  • >> chest pain
  • >> problems breathing
  • >> fast heart beat
  • >> hypertension
  • >> excessive sweating
  • >> aches and pains all over the body
  • >> having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
  • >> hypertension
  • >> headaches or migraines

The most intense period for Spice withdrawal is the first week [4].

After one week, symptoms usually taper off.

However, if a person has been using Spice for a prolonged period of time, the effects can last for up to a month.

There is a risk of complications when withdrawing from Spice, especially when it is done without professional help.

The safest recourse would be to use a supervised detox facility for Spice withdrawal.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice) Available at:
  2.  BBC. (2016, 26 May ). Legal highs ban comes into force across the UK. Available at:
  3. Barnes, T. (2018, 29 August). Spice should be upgraded to Class A drug, say police and crime commissioners. The Independent. Available at:
  4. Spaderna, M., Addy, P. H. & D’Souza, D C. (2014). Spicing things up: Synthetic cannabinoids. Psychopharmacology (Berl), 228(4), 525–540.  Available at:
  5.  National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Synthetic Cannabinoids (K2/Spice). Available at:
  6. Huestis, M. (2007). Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics. Chemistry & Biodiversity, 4(8), 1770–1804.  Available at:
  7.  Lovett, C. Wood, D. M. & Dargan, P. I. (2015). Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists. Available at:
  8.  Byrne, P. (2019, August 18). Spice crisis deepens as 9 kids collapse after taking zombie drug and deaths surge. Available at:
  9. Financial Times. (2019, January 10). UK to reconsider classification of synthetic drug spice. Available at:
  10. Papanti et al. (2013). “Spiceophrenia”: a systematic overview of “spice”-related psychopathological issues and a case report. Human Psychophramacology, 28(4), 379-89. Available at:
  11. Kulhalli, V. Isaac, M. & Murthy, P. (2007). Cannabis-related psychosis: Presentation and effect of abstinence. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 49(4), 256–261. Available at:
  12. Patel, J. & Marwaha, R. (2019).Cannabis Use Disorder. Available at:

Prescription Medicines FAQ

What Is The Difference Between A Prescription Drug And An OTC Drug?

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs can be bought at a pharmacy or supermarket without a prescription. Prescription drugs are for conditions that are more serious, or need precise dosage and intake instructions given by a health care professional.

In the UK, the NHS has a list of conditions that do not need prescriptions. To obtain these medications, one can simply approach the prescribing professional at a local pharmacy [1].

The NHS is limiting the unnecessary amount of prescriptions given due to budget concerns.


Common conditions that do not need prescriptions are:

  • >> Sore throat
  • >> Fever and flu
  • >> Burns (minor)
  • >> Indigestion or heartburn
  • >> Hay fever
  • >> Diarrhoea
  • >> Constipation
  • >> Dry eyes
  • >> Travel sickness


Some individuals get addicted to OTC drugs. The most abused OTC drugs are those containing codeine [2] and Dextromethorphan (DXM) [3].

If taken continuously for three days, drugs containing codeine can be addictive [2].

If there are concerns regarding OTC addiction, a source of help would be an addiction clinic such as Abbeycare Scotland.


Is it Illegal To Misuse Prescription Drugs?

Possessing prescribed drugs without a prescription is illegal in the UK.

Using prescription medicines in a non-medical manner is also illegal in the UK.

If a person is given prescriptions for medicines, he or she can only use these medicines as advised by a health care professional.

Penalty for possession of these drugs for non-medical use is up to 5 years in prison with no limit on the amount of fine imposed [4].


The most misused prescription drugs are:

  • >> Opioids/narcotics/painkillers such as Dilaudid, Vicodin, Percodan, and OxyContin
  • >> Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax
  • >> Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall
  • >> Prescription grade Codeine


Prescription misuse can lead to addiction to prescription drugs. Some cases can also lead to overdose with lethal consequences [5].


How Long Does It Take To Flush Medication Out Of Your System?

The time taken depends on what kind of drug is taken, how much of it is taken and how long an individual has been taking it.

For psychoactive drugs (drugs that can change moods and consciousness), the following are to be considered:

  • >> For benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium or Xanax), the effects of the medicine wane within 2 to 4 days [6].
  • >> For Rohypnol® (Flunitrazepam) – half of the effect is gone within 18-26 hours, but it is not totally eliminated in the system a few more hours [7]
  • >> For Adderall® Concerta®, Ritalin®, which are prescribed stimulants, the effects are gone approximately 10 hours after swallowing (for adult individuals) [8].


With regards to medication prescribed to treat other diseases like high-blood pressure, high-cholesterol, diabetes, and acid reflux, consult other authoritative sources.

To know the specific time needed to flush these medicines out, it could be helpful to be familiar with the concept of “half-life” in medicine.

When a medication hits its “half-life”, it means that from this time on, it has half the power it has from the point it was most effective. After half-life, the effect of the drug gradually decreases [9].

Knowing the half-life of a particular medicine can help predict the approximate amount of time the total effect of the medicine will wear off.


Factors that affect how long a drug stays in the system are [10]:

  • >> The type of drug used – some medications have a longer half-life than others, while some stay in the system for a long time because they are metabolised slowly by the body
  • >> The amount used – consider the dosage taken
  • >> How long an individual has been taking the drug
  • >> Body weight – generally speaking, if a person has a lot of body fat, s/he could be less affected by the drug taken
  • >> Age – younger people and the elderly generally are generally more affected by strong medication
  • >> Being hydrated or dehydrated – being well hydrated makes drug elimination somewhat faster
  • >> Body’s metabolism – an important factor as it determines how long the liver and kidneys filter the chemicals out of the bloodstream


Because withdrawal from prescription drugs could be risky, many individuals prefer to consult an addiction clinic whilst undergoing the process.


Tips on flushing out medicine from the system:

  • >> Drink up to 64 oz. of water or clear liquids a day to help your liver and kidney filter the drugs
  • >> Engage in aerobic exercise to promote sweating
  • >> Eat foods rich in fibre such as porridge oats, brown rice, and wheat bread
  • >> Try green juices, green tea, and lemon water, all of which have natural detoxifying effects on the body


How Long Do Detox Symptoms Last?

The usual amount of time for detox symptoms to disappear is within three to ten days. This amount of time generally applies to opiate drugs [11].

Drug detox from prescription medicines depends on several factors, but in general, the timeline would be:

Day 1 to Day 3

Initial symptoms include flu-like symptoms, insomnia, and anxiety

Day 4 to 7

This is the time when detox symptoms peak. Expect:

  • >> Cravings for prescription drugs
  • >> Irritable mood
  • >> Persistent insomnia
  • >> Fever and chills
  • >> Abdominal cramps
  • >> Vomiting/nausea

Day 7 to 10

A management team should be able to assist an individual to transition from drug withdrawal to the therapeutic stage on intervention at this point.

Some facilities offer medication such as buprenorphine, methadone or naloxone to help relieve withdrawal symptoms.


Some individuals ask why buprenorphine, methadone or naloxone is used to treat opioid addiction, since these medications are in the same family as the prescription medicines they are addicted to.

These medications used in medical detox work because like the addictive substance, they bind with opioid receptors in the brain. The brain’s receptors are occupied with the substitute drug, preventing further ties with the unwanted drug.


When an individual takes buprenorphine, methadone or naloxone under supervised detox, he or s/he does not feel euphoria, only relief from prescription medication withdrawal.


Giving the substitute drug is a form of gradual weaning off prescription medication. The end goal is abstinence.

Usually, a rehab clinic will work with the patient to make a personalised treatment plan to treat prescription drug addiction [11].


Can You Detox While On Medication?

Individuals can safely take medication while on drug detox provided that they are cared for in a facility with good standards. In the UK, certification from CQC is considered the industry standard [12].


Professionals well-versed in professionally assisted detox will routinely screen individuals for the usage of other medications.


Drug interactions happen, and without proper guidance, the results could pose serious health risks.


There are many conditions that require the usage of medication even whilst in detox. These conditions include:

  • >> HIV
  • >> Liver disease
  • >> Alcohol dependence
  • >> Hepatitis
  • >> Staph infections
  • >> Tuberculosis

How Is Prescription Drug Misuse Prevented?

To prevent prescription drug misuse, open communication with a health care professional is important. The following information should be relayed:

  • >> Medical history – past diseases, current complaints
  • >> Current diseases
  • >> Other medications taken, even vitamin supplements
  • >> Eating and sleeping habits
  • >> Psychological concerns about taking medicines such as need for treatment, fears of drug dependency, concerns about side effects, etc.
  • >> Scheduling problems about taking medication


Note that some people are more at risk of prescription drug misuse. If the following are present, it could help to be extra aware:

  • >> Past or present addictions to other substances such as alcohol and cigarettes
  • >> Family history of alcoholism or drug use
  • >> Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression
  • >> Being in environments where drug use is an accepted norm
  • >> Easy access to prescription drugs


If one is parent, preventing the misuse of prescription drugs can be done by:

  • >> Being vigilant with the amount and type of prescription medicine available at home (know how many there are exactly).
  • >> Some teenagers get access to prescription medications because the medicines were prescribed to their parents. Safeguard these types of medication properly.
  • >> Dispose of unused medications in the right place. Most pharmacies are obliged to take back unwanted medicines from patients for disposal.
  • >> Frame talks about drugs as a health issue to remove the shame and stigma.
  • >> Talk about real-life examples of drug problems in a neutral tone. Instead of stigmatising an individual with a drug use problem, adopt a problem-solving approach or a humane approach.



  1.  National Health Service. (2018). Why can’t I get a prescription for an over-the-counter medicine? Available at:
  2.  Gil, N. (2018). Young, Female & Addicted To Legal Pills. Available at:
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Commonly Abused Drugs Chart. Available at:
  4. United Kingdom Government. (2013). Drugs Penalties. Available at:
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Misuse of Prescription Drugs. Available at:
  6. Federal Drug Administration. (2011). Valium. Available at:
  7. (2007). Rohypnol. Available at:
  8. Medical News Today. (2018). Adderal (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine). Available at:
  9. Smith, Y. (2016). What is the Half-Life of a Drug? Available at:
  10. (2019). How long do drugs stay in your system? Available at:
  11. Gupta, M. & Attia, F. (2019). Withdrawal Syndromes. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Available at:
  12. Care Quality Commission. (2019). Treatment and Rehabilitation. Available at:

Methadone FAQ


What Are The Effects Of Methadone?

Taking methadone could delay and/or eliminate heroin withdrawal symptoms [1].

Methadone is a synthetic opioid like heroin, tramadol and fentanyl. Primarily, it causes:

  • >> Pain relief
  • >> Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • >> Sedation


When an opioid dependent individual takes methadone, it does not cause feelings of euphoria. Rather, withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings are relieved.

Withdrawal symptoms curbed or eliminated by taking methadone include insomnia, carvings for heroin, fever and moodiness.

Taking methadone can also lead to some side effects. These are [2]:

  • >> Some difficulty breathing or shallow breathing
  • >> Lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • >> Allergic skin reactions
  • >> Chest pains
  • >> Fast heartbeat
  • >> Some may feel confused or disoriented


Side effects should be reported immediately in case they are signs of serious trouble.

Total abstinence from heroin is challenging. As this is the case, some individuals rely on methadone to stabilise before undergoing a rehab programme like that at Abbeycare Scotland.


How Often Can You Take Methadone?

Methadone is usually taken only once a day.

The typical dosage for methadone is 20 to 30 mg.

This dose is often enough to make withdrawal symptoms tolerable. An additional 5 to 10 milligrams is given if the first dose is not working.

A total daily dose usually does not exceed 40 mg [3].


Methadone works by stopping cravings for heroin and other opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl.

In the UK, methadone is used in Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) by the NHS.


Some addiction clinics also use methadone as part of its in-patient programme.

Methadone helps with opioid cravings by reducing the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, morphine and other prescription drugs.


Examples of these withdrawal symptoms are:

  • >> Irritability and moodiness
  • >> Anxious feelings
  • >> Feeling tired or fatigued
  • >> Depression
  • >> An increased heart rate
  • >> Muscle pains or cramps
  • >> Stomach pains
  • >> Nausea
  • >> Fever and chills
  • >> Vomiting
  • >> Diarrhea
  • >> Tremors
  • >> Muscle spasms


Methadone is dispensed by the NHS and other private facilities because there is a risk of diverting the drug for illegal use.

A single dose usually lasts for 24 to 36 hours. NHS clinic services are free, and will often provide other helpful services for people who seek to limit or stop drug use.


How Long Does It Take For Liquid Methadone To Absorb?

After swallowing liquid methadone, it can usually be absorbed by the body in as little as one hour.

But due to differing metabolism and other factors, some individuals could respond differently to the drug, taking up to 7 hours for full absorption [4].

Because methadone is not immediately absorbed by the body, some individuals may not feel complete relief from withdrawal symptoms a short time after they take it.


If methadone is being taken as part of a drug rehab programme, there is a need to be in touch with addiction experts during the process.

Drug detox using methadone has caused deaths because of complications with existing heart problems [5].


The WHO lists methadone as one of its essential medications because of its proven efficacy. Specifically, methadone is used two ways:

  1. Methadone Management Therapy (MMT)
  2. Methadone-assisted detoxification


For MMT, authorities view opioid addiction as a lifetime disease.

Using this way of thinking, methadone is used as a maintenance drug very much like how individuals with diabetes use insulin—as a drug that they have to take to keep functioning properly [6].


In the UK, MMT is used by the NHS. It is believed that long-term opioid abuse causes a form of damage in the central nervous system that makes individuals who want to stop using it feel sick.


By using methadone, individuals who quit opiates such as heroin and fentanyl tend to be able to cope better.

The second way of using methadone typically treating it as part of medically assisted detox, where methadone is the only the first part of a structured rehab programme.


After detox, individuals in a rehab programme usually attend therapy sessions, then rehab aftercare.

Some individuals misunderstand the use of methadone in MMT as “substituting one drug for another”.


There can be shame and stigma if an individual seeks methadone treatment because of this way of thinking.

Current research [6] proves that methadone could be effective in helping individuals stop using heroin and other illegal drugs.


In fact, MMT may prevent the spread of HIV through lessening the need for needle sharing.

MMT tend to curb criminal behaviour associated with drug use. The WHO has listed methadone as one of its essential medicines [6].


Is Methadone Free To Addicts?

In the UK, the NHS provide a daily dose of methadone to individuals who utilise either of the two approaches utilised to stop heroin misuse [7].

These approaches are Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) and detox with the assistance of methadone.


Because heroin dependence is a condition where individuals tend to relapse, abstinence could be hard to achieve for many.

The NHS decided to prescribe methadone and buprenorphine as a form of substitution treatment.

It is not about substituting one drug for another because although methadone can be addictive, substitution treatment can help stabilise individuals to be able to undergo rehab and talk therapies [8].


Substitution treatment also aims to offer a legal and safe heroin or opiate substitute so that addicted individuals can reduce risky behaviours.


How Long Does It Take To Stabilise On Methadone?

It takes about two weeks to stabilise an individual using methadone in Methadone Management Therapy [9].

There are no set rules on the duration of Methadone Management Therapy (MMT). But the longer an individual stays on the programme, the better the chances are for behavioural change.


In the UK, the NHS strongly believes that MMT is the solution to resolving the problem of heroin/morphine/fentanyl abuse. Aside from MMT, the other approach is to use methadone as part of drug detox [7].

Although long-term abstinence from illegal opioids is the end goal of methadone treatment approaches, some individuals are not able to achieve this goal.

This is because methadone is addictive, just like other opioids. Some individuals on MMT have gotten addicted to methadone and require a detox from methadone in order continue living a sober life [2].


The NHS methadone approaches work on the premise that there are support services after methadone administration—it appears that methadone alone cannot solve the problem.

The quality of the NHS treatment programme, including the capacities of the staff, the services of the local drug services, and the treatment methods used are important in determining the success of methadone treatment [1].

However, because waiting for approval by NHS for methadone detox service takes time, some individuals chose private rehab instead. In addition, methadone addiction could be a tricky issue to talk about with a professional who works for the NHS.


Detoxing from methadone addiction is a serious concern, and in a private in-patient rehab setting, there could be a greater chance of recovery than in public programmes because private rehab centre services are more comprehensive and timely [10].

Most of all, the admission process in most private rehabs take only a matter of days.


Likewise, unlike NHS services, private clinics offer:

  • >> A lower staff-to-patient ratio
  • >> Better amenities
  • >> Personalised treatment
  • >> Continuation in care
  • >> Rehab aftercare


There is another drawback to the methadone treatment offered to the public: some individuals who use illegal opioids do not want methadone treatment.

Some may have tried methadone treatment, disliked it, or found it ineffective.


Some individuals are unable to manage on the prescribed dose and some continue to use illegal opioids to ‘top-up’ their prescription.

And lastly, some individuals do not like to give up injecting drugs. Apparently, the ritual of injecting is an experience that sometimes becomes a focus for addiction [1].



  1. Stimson, G. V. and Metrebian, N. (2003). Prescribing heroin: What is the evidence? Joseph Rowntree Foundation.  Available at:
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Methadone. Available at:
  3. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Methadone® Available at:
  4. US Food and Drug Administration. (2015). Methadone Hydrochloride (marketed as Dolophine) Information. Available at:
  5. Harvard Medical School. (2019). Treating opiate addiction, part I: Detoxification and maintenance. Available at:
  6. Australian Government Department of Health. (2013). Four principles of methadone maintenance therapy. Available at:
  7. National Health Service. (2017). Heroin addiction: get help. Available at:
  8. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2007). Methadone and buprenorphine for the management of opioid dependence. Technology appraisal guidance. Available at:
  9. Australian Government Department of Health. (2015). Induction to methadone treatment. Available at:
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Available at:

Coping With Alcoholism As A Student

Coping With Alcoholism AS A STUDENT


Why do we hurt the ones we love in the worse way possible?

It’s as if there is an invisible force that wants us to hurt them.

If we don’t do it, we are going to hurt ourselves.

Why do we turn the sweetest memories into poison?

We say the wrong things, we don’t mean it.

But we say it anyway, and in a quick instance, we crush someone’s soul.

We do it because of a compulsion.

It’s as if the invisible force tugging us to the bottom of oblivion is a demon.

A demon that will swallow us whole.

For a lot of us, that demon began at the bottom of a bottle. Or a pint of beer.

If that demon has a hold of you, then you are here to understand it better.

And maybe understand yourself better.

Let’s dig a bit deeper.

Why Did You Start Drinking?

Everybody’s doing it, and I’d look weird if I don’t try it.

It feels good.

It made me feel better when I was down

It was an experiment.

It changed the way I thought.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with these reasons, right? So why did drinking make you feel so bad?

Because you became an addict.

Because it got a hold of you, because instead of you being the one in control, it controlled you.

This is what we are talking about when we use the word “compulsion”.

You see, it’s not about self-control, or discipline anymore.

It’s about being out-of-control—that’s great when you’re having fun, but when you are out-of-control and you are hurting the ones you love, and worse, not giving a damn about hurting the ones you love, you are in such a mess.

Understatement of the year.

Perhaps I can say it better.

You are in hell.

Your personal hell.

And who’s gonna save you then?

We’re going to introduce you to Emily Smith. She’s a child of addicts.



Instead of a normal family, she grew up with parents who were addicts and grandparents who were addicts. If you have a problem drinking, chances are, your parents had problems drinking too.

You had a 50% chance of becoming addicted to alcohol the moment you were conceived. In the womb, growing as a foetus, you were already predisposed to a life of addiction.


Not “An Alcoholic” But “Addicted To Alcohol”

Why do we say “alcohol-addicted” instead of “alcoholic”? Because based on neuroscience, drinking a certain amount of alcohol for a certain amount of time changes how your brain behaves.

The chemicals become imbalanced and you become addicted. Here’s the difference between an alcohol addicted brain versus a normal brain.


Credit: Lundbeck Institute Campus


If you were born with the genes that predisposed you to addiction, you only need a little bit less of the drink than “normal” people to convert your normal brain to an addicted brain. Your genes are partially to blame, like in Emily’s case.

But genetic inheritance is only one part of the story.

Where you grew up, who you grew up with, and how your life came to be gives us the whole reason why you’re compelled to drink and drink alcohol.

Compelled to drink and drink even if it only brings you destruction.


Why Can’t I Stop?

The combination of genetics predisposing you to alcohol addiction and being surrounded by people who drink, and who see it as a normal thing to do strongly push you towards the direction of alcohol addiction.

In addition, when you drink heavily, changes happen in your brain. Here is a video if you are interested to know more about the topic.



Essentially, when you drink a lot, the dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and Glutamate pathways are affected. These neural pathways are your reward systems.

They get overstimulated with the presence of too much alcohol. When you take the alcohol away, these pathways malfunction.

Used to being overstimulated, they cannot manage without the drug. They will need time to go back to the level they were functioning before they got overstimulated.


Credit: National Institute of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services 


The good thing about having a young brain is that your brain still has a chance to repair the damage.

The bad thing about drinking before you reach your 20’s is that the experts say you can get addicted easier than when you start drinking as an older person.

So is your case that bad? Are you really addicted? If you question yourself, check out:

Serious Signs That You Have A Problem With Alcohol

You drink more alcohol than you really want, and for a longer time than you really want.

You spend a lot of time thinking, buying, hiding, and drinking alcohol.

You crave it.

You do alcohol binges.

You seem to be angry or depressed all the time.

You crave alcohol even if you miss school for it. Even if you miss a date for it. Even if you have to avoid your family for it.

You slowly stop going out with friends, your family, and other people, period. (Except for the times when you have to buy alcohol and you need to pay the shopkeeper).

You blackout when you drink too much, sometimes.

Your grades suck now.

You have sex with people you shouldn’t have sex with, or, you have sex without protection, or, you have sex even when you did not have sex before all this drinking began.

If you stop, you feel really bad. You don’t think straight at all, and sometimes you get the shakes.

The signs of alcohol dependence are different for young people than from adults. Experts have identified three stages and these are:

Stage 1

At this stage, you drink too much and longer than you intend to drink. You may feel out-of-control of your dinking.

Stage 2

At this stage, your out-of-control feeling gets worse. Other people are also noticing that you have changed. You could start to have problems in school, or you could stop socialising. Usually, at this stage, people around you get worried about you. You also feel sick. There’s a sense that drinking is what makes you feel sick, which leads you to…

Stage 3

You know you have a problem and you try to quit drinking. But it seems like your body is not cooperating. When you go cold turkey, withdrawal symptoms show up.

You only feel good when you drink.

When you don’t drink, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, tremors, and even hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there).

Basically, at stage three, you are in such a big mess!

How Do You Ask For Help?

This is the hardest part. You don’t want to admit it, and you don’t want to ask for help.

To tell someone about it means you will have to expose your weakness.

Then you will have to depend on them and listen to them.

But if you don’t ask for help, you’re screwed.

So what do you do?

You can keep on going around and around in this circle. Until something forces you to ask for help, or your secret gets exposed.

We think it’s better if you ask for help in your own terms rather than be in an uncomfortable situation where people are forced to know that you have a problem. And you need their help.

At least if it was in your terms you have control of how to say it, when to say it and how much to say.


In line with this, here are tips on how to get you started:

Talk to an adult you trust at home – it does not necessarily mean your mum or dad. It could be an aunt or your grandparent. The important thing is you trust this person, and you feel safe with this person

Talk to an adult you trust in school – some schools have school counsellors, and they can help. If you trust your Form Teacher, s/he can help too. Or just look for a teacher you trust.

Talk to a friend you trust. This person should be someone who looks after your wellbeing. Aim for someone slightly mature. (Not in age, in attitude.)

Youtube and Google will only get you so far, but helplines are okay too. Search engines and videos can teach you a lot of things about sobriety and sober living. They can be a way to trigger your curiosity and get you to a better place. In fact, check this video out:




Sobriety versus Cutting Back

There are generally two camps when it comes to recovery from alcohol addiction.

The first group is what we call “The Sobriety Group”, and the second group is called “Harm Reduction”.

Recovery groups that use the 12 steps, SMART recovery and AA are examples of groups that use sobriety as a way out from Alcohol Addiction. Drinkware and Moderation Management are examples of organisations that belong to the Harm Management Approach.

What will work for you depends on you as an individual. The recovery process in a unique and personal process—methods that work for a friend you know may not be effective for you.

Generally, though, the more addicted you are to alcohol, the more you are encouraged to cut it out of your life completely. (To be totally sober.)

Some people are very sensitive to alcohol in their system.

They can stay sober and not drink, but once they start drinking again, they can’t seem to stop. They can’t have “just a little”.

If they do, they can go back to being addicts again. You will not know which type of person you are until you begin the recovery process.


It’s scary, isn’t it?

You may not have the courage to stop drinking totally. You can start with moderation or cutting back. If this is how you want to do it, here are some tips to cut down on alcohol:

  1. Know how much you are drinking – use your smartphone and record how much you drink in a week
  2. Cut back little by little – set your own goal. How much can you really cut back?
  3. Ask your parents not to keep alcohol in the house.
  4. Pace your drinking by alternating alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
  5. Order low alcohol drinks or alcohol-free drinks
  6. Have an accountability partner or a moderation partner (see below)


The last step we suggest is having an accountability partner to help you with your drinking problem.

Who is this person and how does it work?

An Accountability Partner is basically someone you trust and who is going to help you stay focused on an agreed-upon set of goals.

The use of accountability partners first started with Life Coaching, but it’s pretty much something we can use for life’s small and big problems.

Simply put, when there’s another person checking on you, you tend to make progress. Accountability Partners have been successful in helping people lose weight, get financially stable, and more.


Things you should look out for when choosing accountability partners are:

  1. They see your potential, they see you for more than what you are now
  2. You trust them.
  3. They are emotionally mature
  4. They give lots of encouragement, even if things look bleak.
  5. You can be honest with them and they are honest with you.
  6. They are able and willing to give you feedback

And lastly,

  1. They are available and not too busy to hear you out.

What To Expect If You Go To Rehab Or Detox

If you asked for help and your loved ones came up with the solution that you need professional help, you are likely to go to rehab.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.

In fact, rehab can be a place where you can stop pretending you don’t have a problem.

You can honestly be who you are, and who you are right now sucks pretty bad.  There are quite a few people in the same situation you are in, and they don’t like to be judged.

They won’t be judging you either.

Here’s what’s going to happen to you if you go to rehab.


This stage is where the centre evaluates how serious your symptoms are. To do this, they need to run some medical tests. They will usually give you a questionnaire to answer.

There will also be an interview where A doctor or nurse will attend to you and you may be given the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

Medically assisted detox

Within a week to ten days (depending on the results of your assessment), you will be monitored by staff while you stop using alcohol.

They can give you medicines like disulfiram and some type of benzodiazepines to cope with your withdrawal symptoms.

You should be feeling better after the alcohol detox period. The first three days are the hardest, especially if it’s your first time.

Inpatient care or outpatient care

Inpatient means you stay in the rehab facility the whole time for the next 28 days at the minimum.

During this time, you have to attend the activities that are planned out by the centre. You will be repeatedly urged to join the activities. (It’s just the way it is.)

Outpatient care means you go to the clinic in a scheduled time to see a therapist or to attend group therapy.


In rehab, there are activities organised by groups such as AA or SMART Recovery. These organisations are called “Mutual Support Groups”. The activities these groups plan are not therapy, but they can be therapeutic.

These meetings are held to link people in recovery together, so they can support each other.

It is important to know that nobody is forced to join any organisation they are not comfortable with.

You choose what organisation you want to join because it is you who is in recovery. So choose what works best for you.


A recent article by Time Magazine mentioned that younger people are less into drinking alcohol now than in the past.

In July 2019 for instance, there was a Mindfulness Drinking Festival held in London. In this event, people danced to techno beats and drank alcohol-free drinks while partying.

If you’ve ever heard of Dry January and maybe even tried it, then you are aware that people are more conscious now about their drinking habits.

There is even a belief that if, for instance, alcohol was a newly invented product, it wouldn’t get past the Health Ministry.

Alcohol is as addictive as any prescription or illegal drug. And there is social life outside drinking and partying.

In addition, there is a slow culture-change happening across our country. People are starting to wake up from their alcoholic stupor and see that life is brighter and clearer and happier sober.

Will you be one of them too?



Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

Related Topics:


Inspirational Stories:


Top Blogs and Resources 2019
Location: Northern California
Owner: Shane Ramer
Sober Since: 2014
Social: @realthatsoberguy

Sober guy has a lot to offer apart from the sobriety. He does his offerings in the most classic way and with style. If someone sees a need to attach sober to his name like sober guy, it would only imply that he was once a drunk.

So, safe to say that he knows what it means to be boozy. Pretty much all the time too.

The site is a place that glorifies the journey towards sobriety and all the challenges that come with it. In some of the blog posts, expect an appraisal of the blogger’s personal journey and in some anticipate an eye opener as to what true living is without alcohol.

Subsequently, you may also stumble on articles that are slightly off the alcohol-sobriety cause, you will get to see how good living can be experienced with the best friends and people around. Here is the voice of a sober guy; telling the world that alcohol has been given so much power for too long and that it is now time to bully it into relinquishing this power with the most profitable journey ever.

In the meantime, keep your bottles filled only with water. 

Location: UK
Owner: Dawn
SoberSince: 2016
Social: @soberfishie

The blog is laced with all the recovery articles that hold nothing back – it is never to encourage weakness.

But, to ensure that you are aware that some things never go away and that your strength and ability to say no is needed every day to make a day.

You can also be sharing testimonies and sharing your story of several years being sober if you embrace the content on all the articles. You are also very allowed to share your struggles, pain and bliss as a sober person.

The goal is to have a group of responsible citizens who are not shy not share their story and are kind enough to use their story to change and recruit others too.

Location: Wayne, PA
Owner: Elizabeth Chance
Social: @BusyLivingSober

Living sober may sound very easy until you become an alcohol – most people after making the decision to start living sober become even more confused than a homeless person on house arrest. Yes! That flummox.

Because, some people have been there and understand the intricate attached to being a former alcohol and aspiring to start living sober, these people have come together to create  a platform with the goal to help and make things work out as  much as possible for the alcoholics.

Truth be told, nothing happens automatically not even this one. So, the user and blogger expects that there would be challenges here and there. And this is why a perfect way to overcome and out run challenges accompanying recover has been put in steps and in each post of the site here to help you.

The major goal is to see you living a worthy life and living for a worthy cause.


Owner: Lynne
Sober Since: 2008
Social: @LivingWithAddictionLynneHuysamen

As you must have guessed, Lynne is woman here to salvage the addiction to alcohol, saving the world each post at a time, If she has been dutifully following the journey towards sobriety against all the odds and challenges, she believes that any other person is equally capable of doing the same and excelling too.

So, wonder no more about the rationale behind the blog. Do more of accepting and supporting this as long as you live.

It is also for those who have a lot of similarities with the blogger and are looking for a community that understands.

She hopes that people can be inspired by her story to quit or even seek for the help that is obviously very present.

Beforehand, people should know that the journey is not only laced with the good. The bad and the ugly also accompany in equal or higher fervor. But, what would and should make you going is the straw of decision that you are never going back to being an alcoholic.

You will soon find very intriguing things about the blogger as she intends for you to find; never stop reading as long as you need to read.

Location: Basehor, KS, United States
Owner: Dad and Mom

The site focuses on the teenagers or young adults that are going through difficult times being an addict.

There is a need for the parents to be less judgmental, sentimental and more firm and realistic. Else, the child ends badly.

As parents of an addict, you need to be emotionally stable and not cower from the challenges glaring at you daily by wallowing too. There is a need to stand up for your child and ultimately keep your family together. The blog is an open age to all parents – whether single parents or parents who are still together but have noticed a strange addiction in their children.

Daily, the blog opens you up to the possibilities of the causes and effects of your child’s situation. And while it may be difficult to swallow, it is a very mature way to deal with things.

As parents of addicts, you are also likely to get the best of insights from other parents in your situation or other parents who once were. The insights can serve as a great tool for helping your child overcome the situation right now and can ultimately be the you best parent of the year if your child can pull through without itch.

Location: NYC
Owner: Tawny
Sober Since: 2016
Social: @TawnyMLara

Having the best content is a priority just as much as truly healing and progressing with each passing day. So, it is safe to say that the blog hopes to reach souls that have hit block road countless times and souls that have given up oomph in the claws of alcohol.

It is also a perfect strategy to reach my core and foster my recovery. Writing comes easily and having a platform that allows me to share about the most important parts of my life every day or as much as I want is pure bliss.

What is equally blissful is having testimonies abound from something that has knocked people down for so long. It never has to hurt forever and ever. If any alcoholic who believes that he  indeed cannot do without the bottle stumble on this blog and get around d to reading a post,  he snaps out of it and gets an eureka! Same with anyone who comes around to read through in the hope that the community will accept her, she meets what she hopes for and more.

In all, the blog hopes to inspire people to change as well and innovate transformation in people.

Owner: Rosie
Sober Since: 2018
Social: @stonesobermom

If you are tired of having to answer your child’s incessant answers about why your mouth stinks or having to shy away from the questioning look on your child’s eyes as you step in to crash for the day, this one has been made specifically for you.

It would suffice to say, you are guilt ridden just as expected. Because being a mom means that you are responsible for a life.

And we all know that there is no way being responsible and being an alcoholic can be mutually exclusive. You would have to replace one with the other. I hope for your sake and for the sake of your child, you choose to be a sober mom for life. I hope and believe that you will make the right decision for yourself and those that matter to you.

The blog is here for you who will be making the decision and be at a cross road asking what next. You no longer have to be flummoxed for too long because the blog is very present in the time of your needs to help you overcome temptations and help you heal completely. It also has the package for all the things you can engage in to help you shun alcohol.


Owner: James Balmer
Social: @dawnfarm

As the name implies, this is the site that has been sworn off for the provision of useful and trendy information about addiction and recovery from it. While the posts may not always educate it is sure to bring you all that you need to be aware of the addiction and recovery process.

It can be a great abode for anyone in the recovery process. Just like it can be really helpful in the provision of information to any neutral person.

It is a site that would readily bring key informants to come and share a podcast or a write up just so that all and sundry can have something to chew on.

The fact that the sole goal is to inform does not mean that an iota or more of educating can also be done. The major posts although, reeks of just information giving can be very instrumental during exam, it is also capable of inspiring a person and causing the break of insight in a person that has lost it for so long.

The goal is so that all the readers can appear on the site and go feeling like they have received a gift called knowledge.


Owner: Angela Pugh
Social: @addictionunlimited

It gives a lot of people hope and a reason to keep floating when sites like this pop up on the screen ; we are quite aware of this fact and the single expression of victory that we are capable of evoking by just being us. So, we try to be us every time.

All the graces you never thought you had because you are an alcoholic and buried deep and we are passionate about making you see that and inspiring you to get it all out in no time. Every day you have to see a bottle of wine no longer has to be struggle for you, when you have a site like this, addiction becomes second best.

Of all the things to worry yourself about, the reason behind how you feel is not one. The site hopes to make you start feeling great in spite of taking a bottle per day. 

Location: Ocala, FL
Owner: Daniella
Sober Since: 2006
Social: @doingitsober

Life is most enjoyable when you do it the best way. When it comes to drinks and cocktails, life is best done when you do it sober. I know this. You know this. And this blogger definitely knows this.

And we all should be grateful for the blogger who has decided to put her feelings and conviction into writings and up for better scrutiny.

It is safe to say that the owner of the blog hides behind the pad to change the world one post at a time. It is equally imperative to note that the blogger is passionate about doing life sober.

So, expect to see the site that is a mixture of a lifestyle story and genuine information about the subject matter.

To do life sober without witch is impossible but not improbable. So, stick with the tendency and hope for the best as you embrace each post on the blog. 

Location: Australia
Owner: Louise Rowlinson
SoberSince: 2013
Social: @hangovrfreelie

A hangover free life is possible. If some people who were very much facing hang over every day of their life could achieve it, you can achieve more and more of that. The blog is popular for its continuous hammering on the fact that you can live the rest of your life being sober and it can be the best of your life.

So many blog posts have gone into making people see the possibility of the fact that a hangover free life is possible. Some of the blogs have even won great recognition awards.

The blog continues to upload powerful blogs like the ones that have been featured on the ocean recovery, port of call 20 best addiction blog, feed spot 20 best addiction blog and drink revolution must follow blogs. All of these are some of the achievements that can be said about the blog.

The owner of the blog is constantly intertwined with the need to see a society of sober young adults. Hence, she ensures that all things being equal, contents on being alcohol free and recovery process are put up for consumption. Away from content creation on addiction, the blog also sees to the process by introduction of campaign against addiction.

Linda Bartee Doyne 

Owner: Linda Bartee Doyne

The blog originated as a means to keep my family informed since they were a long distance from my home. I wrote the postings as a means of clearing my head and making sense out of all my unanswered questions.

The coin is flipped a little here on the blog. Not totally.  You are still likely to stumble on some posts that may guide alcoholics into a safer place called sobriety. However, the intent and focus of posts on the blog are a means for a non-alcoholic living with an alcoholic can live good life.

It will not be way out of line if you also read things on recovery processes too.

This will in fact, help you discover ways in which you can live with the alcoholic in spite of his living a life of misery.

You are going to find this blog very useful for all the questions and ideas things you may have about alcoholism. But you need to stick to what the blogger has to say concerning your own sanity as someone who has decided to stay with an alcoholic. You will also find ways to “restart” your life when the alcoholic is no longer in your home or, possibly, no longer a part of your life.

As we may want to argue that it is not a contagious disease, there is a place where you become collaterally damaged as a result of involvement with an alcoholic.  To save yourself and also, possibly, help the alcoholic whether friend, spouse or child, you will need to acquaint yourself with some guides. These guides are what the blog is all about.

Identifying signs symptoms of addiction and when to act

identifying signs and symptoms of addiction

Drug addiction can affect and change people in many different ways.

Some are very easy to spot and highly noticeable, and some other ways that are slightly harder to see and even harder to understand.

Ultimately, during the early stages of their habit, the extent of the effects on an addict will be harder to notice as the physical, mental and emotional effects of long term use have not set in deep enough to be spotted at first glance.

However, if you are concerned that somebody you love, or even you, are struggling with addiction then there are specific things to look for, courtesy of the experts over at Clarity, a rehab in Thailand, to distinguish between occasional use and outright addiction, and when you should act on them.

Borrowing money to fund their habit

Many people use drugs recreationally or on rare occasions, and this while obviously not recommended is not inherently a serious problem provided it doesn’t develop. However, one of the first major signs of drug addiction is financial disorganization and disruption.

This comes from a person having to rearrange their finances in order to accommodate their ever-growing addiction and subsequently many addicts begin to rely heavily on friends and family to fund their habit and their various living expenses.

Everybody gets in financial difficulty sometimes and borrowing from a trusted friend or family member for a legitimate reason is perfectly reasonable.

If this turns into asking these people for money more than once a month for wildly varied and suspicious reasons then this, combined with some other signs, could be due to some kind of addiction.

Social Isolation

Everybody needs their alone time away from everybody else once in a while, it’s important to be able to allocate quality time to enjoy your own personal space. However, there are some kinds of social reclusion that could potentially be a sign of a greater issue with addiction that may be present.

Often time’s new addicts will try to avoid social situations or spending long periods of time with non addicts. Usually due to a fear of judgment and embarrassment about their problem and prefer to spend it with people who are also using the drug due to a sense of “understanding” each other’s struggles.

You should look for signs that somebody is isolating themselves due to addiction by looking for a sudden change in their attendance at social gatherings or regular activates that were once enjoyed by the person.

In addition, look for any signs that they may have started associating with a new group of friends who they seem unusually attached to.

Erratic Behaviour

Recreational drugs tend to affect a person psychologically as well as physical and mentally. Overusing some kinds of substances can lead to very serious mental health problems in the long run and can cause a complete personality shift in serious cases.

Drugs like cocaine, for example, tend to make a person more paranoid, aggressive and bad-tempered after serious addiction starts, this is due to the body attempting to cope with the absence of the drug by changing your body chemistry.

Unfortunately for this tip, there are no surefire ways to tell whether a person’s behaviour is drug-related without physically testing them.

If you notice somebody’s personality changing very rapidly, alongside erratic and out of character behaviour which comes and goes frequently, this could point towards a struggle with addiction.

However, everybody goes through bad patches in their lives so it is best not to instantly assume they are using drugs unless there are other things about their behaviour that you find suspicious.

Losing Job/Dropping Out of School

Sometimes, you can’t help but lose your job, either your employer goes bankrupt or can no longer afford to keep you on.

Whatever the reason it is all part and parcel of being an adult and making your way in the world of work.

However, if your friend suddenly loses interest in a job they were previously very happy with, or suddenly drop out of a college course they were working at completing then this can be a serious indicator that they are allowing their addiction to dictate their day to day lives.

This can be a very serious state of affairs when a person begins to jeopardize their addiction over their future career prospects.

If an employer suspects that you are abusing drugs and fire you for it, then that could forever go against you if you try to find work in that same industry again.

What’s more, is if that person happens to be supporting a family then they now not only have to struggle to finance their addiction but also support them until they find new work.

Hygiene and appearance

Anybody reading this has probably at some point in the past fallen guilty to letting themselves go slightly. Maybe one day you didn’t feel like showering, or perhaps you wanted to see what you would look like with slightly longer, grown out hair.

This is fine, however, when somebody starts to neglect not just their appearance, but also their hygiene, this can be an indicator of a serious problem.

Now obviously there can be many different reasons why a person neglects their appearance, such as mental health or even certain kinds of medications.

However, if you begin to suspect that they are neglecting to take care of their hygiene due to an addiction, it may be worthwhile trying to talk to them about their issues and letting them know (in a constructive and friendly way of course) that people are noticing how they are changing and neglecting their hygiene. This may open them up for more talk on the subject.

The first step to helping somebody tackle their drug dependency issues is by supporting them through their struggles.

At the end of the day, only they can will themselves out of drug addiction, this is the one part of the process that nobody can help with.


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

Related Topics: 


Inspirational Stories: 


The Role of Social Bonds in Overcoming Addiction

The Role of Social Bonds in Overcoming Addiction
The Role of Social Bonds in Overcoming Addiction

A major factor in addiction is isolation.

When a person is lonely, they often use drugs and alcohol to cope with their loneliness.

When there are other people for them to interact with, they might be less interested in drugs and alcohol.

Although there is plenty of drug and alcohol abuse in social settings, it must be understood that social bonds are a counter to addiction.

A recovering alcoholic greatly increases their chances of lasting sobriety if they form social bonds with people who do not drink to excess and will support them in their quest for sobriety.

One of the best things a former drinker can do to maintain their sobriety is form friendships with people who are not active alcoholics and will understand that the former drinker must abstain from drinking any alcohol.

Sober friends are a major part of what makes a sober life worth living for a former drinker.

Positive social contact with peers increases happiness, decreases anxiety and depression, and decreases the chances for a major relapse.

Family is also very important in overcoming addiction.

If the recovering alcoholic spends time with family members, they will feel happier, more fulfilled, and be less likely to relapse.

Care should be taken to avoid conflict, if there is any bad blood with a family member, it may be best to keep the former drinker separate from them for a while.

When the time is right, the former drinker can apologize and make amends to such a family member, and if all goes well, relations can continue.

The recovering alcoholic needs to be open and honest about his addiction with his family and talk to them about why it is important to stay sober.

Such discussion will let the family know that the former drinker understands the harm they have done and is willing to take steps to prevent it from happening again.

Getting someone sober after a destructive addiction should be thought of as a group effort and a family effort.

The family must come together to support the recovering alcoholic or addict both for the addict’s sake and the sake of everyone around them.

A helping and loving attitude will go a long way towards making the former drinker feel as though they are being helped to improve themselves, rather than feeling that they are being forced to give up something they enjoy.

Recovering alcoholics are often defensive about their alcohol abuse and letting them know that they are loved and cared about will help defuse this defensiveness.

Throughout the period of active drinking, the former drinker may have caused many of his relationships with other people to become dysfunctional in some way.

There may have been cases where the former drinker was using people or being used, and in order to move forward with their lives, recovering alcoholics must get rid of such toxic relationships with other people and form bonds which are based on both people benefiting each other and supporting each other’s well-being.

It is very important to get rid of or fix toxic bonds because they are a link to the alcoholic lifestyle and represent an amoral way of living that the former drinker is leaving behind.

All friendships in the new sober life must be based on mutual respect, goodwill, and a commitment to supporting the former drinker’s sobriety.

Some of the old friendships from the drinking days will be salvageable because the friends are willing to be supportive of the former drinker’s sobriety and genuinely care about them.

Other friendships should be left behind for now, because the former friend may be encouraging the person to relapse or the two may be using each other without a genuine care for each other’s well-being, or one might be a parasite upon the other.

Any such toxic bonds which cannot be fixed and assimilated into the sober lifestyle must be broken, to protect the former drinker’s recovery. Sobriety is an entire way of life.

Social bonds with heavy drinkers should be avoided in early sobriety, meaning for the first few years at least.

Active drinkers have a way of sucking others into their way of life, therefore recovering alcoholics should do their best to stay away from active alcoholics except in special circumstances.

Humans are very imitative beings, so it is important that the former drinker not see people drink to excess.

Any drinking done around the former drinker, if it cannot be avoided (which would be best) should be moderate and restrained.

Forming social bonds with people who are supportive of their sobriety and forming healthy bonds with their family will go a long way towards changing the former drinker’s mindset and lifestyle.


The more connected the recovering alcoholic is with others, the better.

They can spend time alone, of course.

However, if the recovering alcoholic is feeling bad and needs someone to talk to and someone is quickly there, they will feel supported in their sobriety.

The power of supporting someone in their sobriety cannot be overestimated.

A former drinker is much more likely to succeed if someone is working alongside them in their recovery, or even is just there at the times when the former drinker can’t get by on their own.

Having someone to lean on in times of despair or struggle will prevent the former drinker from leaning on alcohol.

If the former drinker attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it will be enormously helpful.

At AA a recovering alcoholic will be surrounded by other people who went through a similar ordeal of destructive drinking and came out of it sober and successful.

There will be examples to follow and people willing to lend a helping hand.

Since the 12th step in AA treatment programme is to carry the message to other alcoholics, a newly recovering alcoholic will find that they are considered the most important member of any meeting, because they are the most in need of help.

AA is specifically designed to help people who have struggled with alcohol addiction, and the AA programme of moral transformation is backed up by a community of caring people who will help any former drinker who is willing to be open and honest.

AA is a great place for recovering alcoholics to make friends, since they will be in contact with a large group of peers.

AA meetings are a group activity that makes the former drinker feel like they are a member of a community.

It is very important that the former drinker attend AA meetings if they are available in the area, and they very likely will be.

The recovery community will be one of the greatest tools a former drinker has at their disposal to ensure their sobriety.

They may be reluctant to attend at first, but because we are social beings, most recovering alcoholics will come to enjoy and look forward to going to AA meetings and sitting and talking with other people going through the exact same journey they are.


AA meetings are helpful, helpful, helpful!

They’re a great place to make sober friends and to form social bonds that can last a lifetime.

The former drinker will begin to see preserving their social bonds within the recovery community as far more important than alcohol could ever be.

When the former drinker has strong social bonds with many people who are supportive of his sobriety, the chances of recovery become much greater.

Family, friends, and a recovery community will all be key parts of the transformation the recovering alcoholic will undergo.

Giving up destructive drinking isn’t just breaking an addiction, it’s a lifestyle change, and the positive social bonds that are formed during recovery are the best defense against the return of addiction.


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

Using the Past to Create a Sober Future

Using the Past to Create a Sober Future

For many former drinkers working to stay sober, the past contains many painful memories that they would prefer to leave behind forever.

However, the memories from their drinking days can be very helpful to them in overcoming their addiction.

Many ex-drinkers used to drink in order to forget the bad things that happened.

Issues were covered up with alcohol, and the pain was numbed.

But now that they are sober, it’s time for them to face the problems in their life head-on.

If you are a recovering alcoholic yourself, use the tools provided in this article to strengthen your sobriety.

This article will also be helpful to those want to help former drinkers, but for optimal results, have the former drinker read this themselves.


Learning from the Past

People avoid early on to avoid dangerous actions such as placing their hand on a hot stovetop.

They may have ignored warnings as a child, but after doing it once and getting painfully burned, they avoided it in the future.

They learned from the past.

This is something that alcoholics in their drinking days are often unable to do.

All sorts of pain and misery will be caused by their drinking, both to themselves and others, but they will go right back to doing the activity which hurt them, even though the logical response would be to avoid drinking and thereby avoid the harm it causes.

Now that you are striving for sobriety, you can permanently change that pattern.

By closely examining the harm that drinking caused, you can understand in deeper ways why you must avoid drinking.

Study your drinking history.

Look back at when you started drinking, and why, and what the results were early on in your drinking career.

It’s best to write these things down as well as reflecting on them.

  • ⇒ When did you start drinking to excess?
  • ⇒ When did you start drinking often?
  • ⇒ What was going on in your life when you did?
  • ⇒ And what changed in your life after you started drinking heavily and/or regularly?


The point of all this is to examine what the effect of drinking was on your life, what harms it caused.

As you move on in writing the history of your drinking career, take special care to study the worst disasters in detail.

Would those bad things have happened if you hadn’t been drinking?

If they wouldn’t have, and if the drinking caused them, understand that similar disasters can easily happen if you back to abusing alcohol.

You need to know in your heart that alcohol has hurt you and know in your heart that alcohol can hurt you again.

Another good strategy for learning about your past drinking is to talk to others about their experiences when they were around you while you were drinking.

They may remember things that you don’t or have perspectives and feelings on the situation that are enlightening.

If there were any major incidents during your drinking career that friends or family witnessed, interview them and ask about the things that you did and how it affected them.

Avoid becoming defensive, just listen and learn.

You will likely find that many people were worried about you, and that will become another motivation to avoid relapsing.

The more aware you become of what happened when you drank, the stronger your sobriety will be.

Throughout this exploration of your past, keep in mind that the things that happened while you were drinking can happen again if you keep drinking and/or relapse.

A few months of sobriety does not make you immune to destruction after you’ve relapsed.

The good things in life are dependent upon your sobriety.

Don’t risk losing them by bringing alcohol back into the equation.

Also Read:

Cleaning up the Wreckage from your Drinking Days

Many alcoholics have seriously hurt others, especially the people they love.

While drunk, in their misery and their state of lowered inhibition and increased aggression, they lashed out at others both verbally and physically.

They neglected responsibilities and allowed their duties to others to go undone. They lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, and used others for their own gain.

It may be hard to face the facts of what you’ve done but doing so will give you the knowledge and power needed to never treat people so badly again.

You must use the past to your advantage to create a brighter, sober future.

Whether or not you are in AA, you should create what the programme calls a “moral inventory”.

This is a hard and honest look at both the good and bad things you have done in your life.

This is to be written down, and traditionally in AA, (12 Step Treatment Programme) it will be shared with another person who will keep everything a secret.

However, if you are not in AA, whether it will be shared with others is up to you.

Either way, when you write a moral inventory, hide nothing from it.

Even the most awful things you have done should be written down. You should keep your moral inventory in a secure location, either in a password protected file or in a lockbox if handwritten.

This will give you the confidence needed for full honesty.

Write down the name of every person you have hurt in a major way and write down what you did to them and how you think it made them feel.

Focus on things where the person was significantly harmed or upset by your actions because recording every small wrong would take too long.

For example, if you said rude things on a regular basis to a loved one, focus on the overall themes of how you treated them rather than writing down everything you said, although especially hurtful words can be written out specifically.

Take this very seriously.

The power of writing a record of your wrongs should not be underestimated. A moral inventory has the power to take your sobriety to the next level and prevent urges to drink.

Once the moral inventory has been completed, you can carefully begin the process of contacting the people you’ve hurt and apologising to them or making amends.

For amends, an example would be that perhaps you stole £100 from someone to spend on alcohol.

You would apologise and pay that money back, even if it is difficult. (In this example, it could be done in small instalments over time if you are low on money.)

If a person was very badly hurt by you and would rather not see you, or if they might hurt you when they see you, you should leave them be, however.

This process should not include taking serious risks or contacting people who want to avoid you.

You won’t be able to apologise to everyone, and not everyone will accept your apologies, although you may be surprised by how forgiving many people can be. The point is to try your best to right your former wrongs.

If the person you need to apologise or make amends to is a friend or loved one, be sure to have an in-depth conversation with them about how you can treat them better going forward. Ask them about what you did that was hurtful and how it made them feel.

Work to truly understand how your actions affected them, so you can have a deeper understanding of how vital it is to avoid repeating such mistakes and misdeeds.

This process of working to understand and right the wrongs you’ve done to your loved ones will be appreciated, and unless the damage done is too great, it can lead to stronger bonds in the future.

Looking exclusively at your own failings in a relationship may be humbling and frustrating but put in the work and you will greatly enjoy the rewards.

Doing a moral inventory and then making amends will bring about what AA calls a “spiritual transformation”. What that ultimately means is that you become a better, more caring person.

The process of righting the wrongs you have done brings about a profound psychological shift and change in attitudes that makes sobriety much easier to maintain.

It will help you to understand on the most fundamental level why it is wrong for you to drink—the reason being that drinking ends up causing you to hurt other people and yourself.

After you’ve done your best to fix the damage done during your drinking career, you can move on to a new and happy phase of your life. But you need to put the work in first.

Acknowledging past wrongs and making amends.


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

3 Tips for Avoiding a Relapse

Avoiding a Relapse
Avoiding a Relapse

This article is geared towards the problem drinker who has already quit drinking and already has a few days or weeks of sobriety.

Once you or your loved one has gotten past the withdrawals from alcohol, what can they do to start building a happy and healthy life free from drinking?

We will discuss three things the former drinker can do to feel better and stay in a good mood so that they will be less likely to feel the need to drink.

The 3 strategies are exercise, meditation, and spending time with friends who are not drinking.

#1. Exercise

Excessive alcohol consumption is very damaging to the body, and it’s vital that healthy habits are established to get the former drinker’s body back to proper health. An exercise routine should be established and practised daily.

Exercise has been proven to improve mood, brain function, and physical health. Physical exercise causes the release of endorphins, a feel-good chemical which is the cause of “runner’s high”. Seeking out endorphins with exercise is a healthy way for the former drinker to pursue pleasurable feelings.

One should consult with a doctor before beginning an exercise routine, just to make sure there are no health risks such as heart issues. After approval, the former drinker should immediately begin by walking or biking when they need to go somewhere nearby. Establishing this habit will begin the process of increasing energy levels.

The former drinker should, for the first two weeks or so, try jogging or walking for at least one mile every day. In early human history, people had to walk everywhere they went.

Walking places is a return to healthy and natural human living after long periods of often being inside and drinking all day. Being outside and seeing the trees and sky will also improve the former drinker’s mood and decrease any depression they might be experiencing during this difficult time in their life.

Another part of an exercise routine can be weightlifting, as long as the former drinker is healthy enough to do so. The former drinker can either buy weights for the home (expensive gym sets are unnecessary, dumbbells will do just fine) or get a gym membership.

Lifting weights and building muscle will begin a programme of self-improvement that will improve the former drinker’s self-image and give them healthy goals to work towards. Lifting weights will also make the former drinker feel much better physically. It’s important to avoid overworking oneself in weightlifting, to take regular days off, and to eat plenty of food.

Weightlifting and aerobic exercise may serve other important purposes in the former drinker’s recovery by countering the effects of extended alcohol withdrawal: it can increase appetite by burning calories and combat insomnia by tiring the ex-drinker out.

A balanced exercise program will help the former drinker’s body to recover and regain its natural metabolic and sleeping rhythms.

Also Read: The Benefits Of Sobriety After Alcohol Rehab

#2. Meditation

Meditation, or quieting the mind, is a great way to improve mental health, increase the ability to focus, and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.

Buddhist monks meditate for long periods of time every day, and those who have been studied report consistently high levels of well-being and happiness.

The benefits of meditation could take up an entire article of this size but suffice it to say that meditating twice a day will make the former drinker a more balanced and healthier human being.

How does meditation work?

There are a wide variety of methods, but a basic method on which variations can be based is as follows. Sit down with your legs crossed and your spine erect, with your hands flat on your legs. Close your eyes either halfway or completely.

Breathe in deeply and slowly, hold it for a few seconds, then breathe out deeply and slowly. As you breathe out, count 1 in your head. Repeat this all the way up to five, then restart. This counting functions as a mantra, or repeated phrase which quiets the mind, and a way to maintain focus.

When thoughts occur, simply acknowledge them and let them pass by. Thoughts are natural, and you don’t need to force yourself not to think, but don’t grasp onto your thoughts and continue them.

You are working to clear your mind. Clearing your mind with meditation will relax you and allow you to think more clearly. If you find yourself falling asleep, open your eyes for a while.

With practice, you’ll be able to meditate for longer without getting sleepy. When you begin meditating, do it twice a day for five or ten minutes at a time, and work your way up over a few weeks to doing it for twenty to thirty minutes at a time, twice a day.

If you are not a fan of counting, there are alternative mantras you can use. A good rule for mantras is to make them relevant to the goals of meditation, for example, repeating in your head with every breath, “Empty mind” or “Pure peace”.

Take meditation seriously and practice it regularly. It will help you find balance in your life and it will reduce the urge to drink. There is a vast array of literature which demonstrates that meditation is useful in overcoming addiction.

Once you establish a meditation habit, you will look forward to it as a time of peace and calm in a life which can often be stressful and hectic.

Regular meditation = stronger sobriety.


#3. Spending Time with Friends Who Aren’t Drinking

To be clear, a former drinker working to stay sober doesn’t need to exclusively have friends who never drink.

But their friends must be people who don’t have destructive drinking tendencies, and their friends must be willing to not drink when they’re spending time with the former drinker.

Recovering alcoholics who are advanced in their sobriety can be around people who drink sometimes, but those who are early on in their sobriety are best off if they avoid being around drinking altogether.

This means not hanging out at bars or parties with heavy drinking.

AA has a saying: “Avoid wet places and wet faces.”

Being in places where alcohol is abused and being around people who abuse alcohol is to risk a relapse and all the devastation that can bring.

If you are a former drinker and have a friend who wants you to drink with him after you explain why you shouldn’t, that is not really your friend. If you explain to your friend why you must stay sober and they immediately stop trying to tempt you and don’t do it again, that’s a real friend.

If a friend is willing to avoid bringing alcohol around you and to give up drinking it around you, that’s a real friend. You need real friends if you want to stay sober. Real friends will be supportive of your life choice and work with you, not against you.

As a former drinker working to stay sober, you’ll need to meet new people with whom you have common interests to spend time with.

Being around friends will make you feel better and happier, and it will prevent the loneliness which has caused many a relapse. Good places to make new friends are at AA, community events, online and via social media, and in church or other community buildings. Reach out and talk to people you don’t know well.

Interacting with strangers can be tough or awkward, and you won’t have the alcohol to ease social anxiety, but it will be well worth the effort once you make new friends.

You may want to get involved with a sports league or other group that does physical activity. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people. Be involved with positive group activities, and you won’t want to numb your mind with alcohol.

Get together some friends and go to the movies, go bowling, or go to a concert. Write these suggestions down and do them! If you are reading this because someone you care about is getting sober, show these suggestions to them with helpful hints on how to implement them.

During recovery from addiction, isolation is dangerous. A recovering alcoholic or addict must connect with other human beings. Spending time with other people will make any person healthier, happier, and give their life a sense of purpose.

Doing good deeds for others has been shown to be especially powerful in supporting sobriety. Problem drinking is inherently selfish behaviour, and by helping others on a regular basis and developing generous habits, the former drinker becomes the kind of person who wouldn’t act selfishly.

Isolation is bad


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

How to Know if You have a Drinking Problem

How to Know if You have a Drinking Problem
Am I an Alcoholic?

Many people drink on occasion, and not all drinking is harmful. People can drink alcohol to unwind, to ease social anxiety, and to feel good.

But a surprisingly large number of people become addicted to alcohol, using it on an everyday basis both because they enjoy its relaxing and euphoric effects and because they want to avoid the withdrawal symptoms that would occur if they didn’t drink for the day: agitation, anxiety, insomnia, dysphoria, etc.

However, many people are still able to only have a few drinks a day and keep a job and avoid problems with their family. But what of the remainder?

The remainder, who binge drink and/or drink every day and commonly have more than a few drinks, and do have problems with friends, family, and their ability to be productive in life, are the problem drinkers.

Problem drinkers, also called alcoholics, are so addicted to alcohol that their life becomes filled with problems and is often quite unpleasant. The consequences of their heavy drinking are detrimental to their health, both physical and mental, to their social relationships, to their work productivity, and to their ability to make responsible and ethical decisions.

When a drinker becomes a problem drinker, they stand to benefit greatly from quitting drinking alcohol and stand to lose greatly by continuing along the path of their destructive addiction. So, how do you know if you’re a problem drinker?

Major Signs of a Drinking Problem

First, you need to stop and think about whether your drinking is causing you problems. Try to answer these questions out loud, or in writing.

  • Are you becoming excessively drunk on occasion, or even on a regular basis?
  • Are you spending too much money on alcohol, more than you can easily afford?
  • Do you lose control when you’re drunk and do things you regret?
  • Do you ever blackout and have memory gaps?
  • Do you find yourself regretting having slept with certain people while you were drunk?
  • Do you ever get in fights while drunk?
  • Do you drive while drunk and thereby risk disaster?
  • Is drinking interfering with your relationships with friends and family, or causing your work performance to suffer?
  • Do you drink while you are at work or school?
  • Do you depend on alcohol to fall asleep?
  • Has a romantic relationship with a significant other ever ended partially or primarily as a result of your drinking or the things you did while drunk?
  • Have you physically, verbally, or sexually abused someone while you were drunk?
  • Do you wish you were able to quit drinking, but find yourself consistently unable to for longer than a few days or weeks?
  • Do you consume 4-6 drinks per day or more?
  • Do you binge drink on the weekends and consume very large amounts of alcohol? (for example, 24-packs of beer, entire fifths of liquor, etc.)
  • Try to name the things you’ve lost as a result of drinking or being drunk, for example by writing a list.


If you’re answering yes to a lot of these questions, or even to one, or have lost/are losing important things as a result of drinking, quitting drinking may be a very good idea.

But these are just some of the broadest ways to determine if you have a drinking problem. In the following two sections, we will explore the physical and then the psychological indications that you might have a drinking problem.

If the descriptions match you, it may mean you have a drinking problem.

Physical Signs of a Drinking Problem

There are many physical ailments and symptoms connected with excessive alcohol consumption.

They fall into two groups: Those caused by the alcohol itself, and those caused by the withdrawal when there is not as much alcohol in the body as it has become accustomed to.

Those caused by hangovers and withdrawal are often characterized by overstimulation, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, shaking (especially in the hands), agitation, muscular tenseness, restlessness, and insomnia, and bodily discomfort, such as headaches, muscle aches, hypersensitivity to light and noise, nausea, lack of appetite, and diarrhea.

If you are having significant withdrawals from alcohol, including hangovers, you are either addicted or consumed too much at once. Either way, alcohol is causing you a problem, and you need to drink less of it in order to stay healthy.

Many normal drinkers have hangovers from time to time, but if hangovers happen often or are severe, then it indicates a problem. And if you start shaking when you haven’t had a drink in a while, it’s a very clear sign that you are addicted to alcohol.

Physical ailments caused by the drinking itself are vast and can be very serious and even life-threatening. In large quantities, alcohol is toxic/harmful to the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and stomach.

Chronic heavy drinking can cause heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, and diabetes (pancreas failure). Millions of human beings have died from the cumulative effects of drinking too much alcohol. The best way to determine if you are suffering from organ damage from drinking is by visiting a doctor.

Here are some lists of symptoms of two major diseases caused by drinking, so you can know if you need to visit a doctor. First, there is cirrhosis of the liver. Symptoms of cirrhosis usually don’t show up until the damage is extensive, so if you are a drinker and see these symptoms, you may be in serious danger and should visit a doctor immediately.

They include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • weight loss
  • chronically itchy skin
  • yellowing eyes and skin
  • fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • easily bleeding or bruising
  • spiderlike blood vessels that you can see through the skin
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • and slurred speech.


Some of these are also symptoms of drinking (like nausea), but you should still see a doctor if they are serious.

Second, there is kidney disease and kidney failure. Too much drinking can seriously and/or permanently damage the kidneys. If you see any of the following signs of kidney disease, go see a doctor.

They include waking up often in the night to urinate, blood in the urine, bubbly or foamy urine, dark urine, urinating far too often or not enough, fatigue, swelling in the hands, legs, feet, etc., nausea, rashes, chills and feeling cold (even in warm places), and abdominal pain.

Lesser physical symptoms of excessive drinking may appear/occur while drunk, or in between periods of drinking. The most common ones are nausea and vomiting, dizziness, lack of coordination and balance, speech problems and slurred speech, blurry or double vision, sweating, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, slowed breathing, and loss of consciousness.

If you are experiencing these symptoms often during your alcohol consumption, you may be going overboard and have a drinking problem.

Not everyone who drinks vomits often, and not everyone who drinks has trouble walking. If these things happen on a regular basis, it is a serious warning sign.

Psychological Signs of a Drinking Problem

The psychological symptoms of having a drinking problem include the effects that the alcohol has, the withdrawal effects, and the obsession with drinking that controls the thoughts, words and actions of the problem drinker. We will begin by discussing the symptoms of the obsession.

If you drink often enough or heavily enough, you will develop an emotional attachment to getting drunk and it will become very important to you to get as much alcohol as you want.

Being stopped from drinking will be incredibly frustrating, and you will go to great lengths to ensure that nothing and no one can stop you from drinking. You will use mental tricks to deny how much you have drunk, such as not counting certain drinks because they were of a certain type or consumed several hours ago.

Problem drinkers have a complex system of denial set up so that they can convince themselves and others that they do not have a problem.

If you’re working hard to convince people that you don’t have a drinking problem, it’s likely because you don’t want to admit it because that might mean you have to stop.

A problem drinker often does not want to stop drinking. Not drinking is unpleasant to them and robs them of something they enjoy greatly.

They will ignore the costs of their drinking and focus only on the perceived benefits, essentially claiming that “it’s not a big deal, everybody drinks”. While it is true that drinking is widespread in our society, not everyone has serious problems in their lives because of alcohol.

And if you do have problems because of drinking, you should stop drinking. It’s that simple.

During drinking, a problem drinker will become excessively drunk and lose their inhibitions, often doing risky things that they would not do in a sober state. They may become aggressive/violent and have mood swings, they may have trouble focusing, hearing, and speaking, and they may become sad or depressed.

They may blackout and lose all memory for certain periods of drunkenness. A problem drinker may be out of control while drunk and they may commit crimes or act irrationally. They may be abusive to their loved ones and lash out both verbally and physically. If your drinking causes harm to other people, you have a drinking problem and need to stop drinking.

During periods of withdrawal from drinking, psychological indications that one is a problem drinker include serious anxiety, depression, irritability, confusion and problems thinking, and extreme urges to drink.

The problem drinker will be very uncomfortable and want to drink to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. If you need alcohol to not be in physical and psychological pain, you probably have a drinking problem.


Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091

How to Help an Alcoholic with These 6 Scientific Tips

According to Public Health England (1), between 2017 and 2018, 75,787 people in England were in treatment at specialist alcohol misuse services.

However, 30% of these people dropped out before successful completion of treatment. Methods to “rehabilitate” an alcoholic are glamourized by celebrities and in the media. Yet how effective is it really, and what are scientifically proven ways to help an alcoholic?

This article aims to answer this.

In this Article we cover:

  1. Understanding an addict
  2. Provide a supportive environment
  3. Motivational rather than confrontational interventions
  4. Residential rehabilitation
  5. Involve a professional and explore medical options
  6. Avoid co-dependency

1. Understanding an addict

It can be difficult living with an alcoholic or justifying their behaviour when many members of the public believe that addiction boils down to a matter of lack of willpower. However, science proves otherwise.

We decide (and continue) to drink based on the following two factors;

A desire for alcohol’s positive effects (such as lack of anxiety and euphoria)
Avoiding alcohol’s adverse effects, typically by continuing to drink in order to avoid a hangover or withdrawal symptoms.

After prolonged and continued alcohol use, the brain itself starts to undergo changes. In scientific jargon, these are called neuroadaptive changes. Evidence currently developing around these changes (2) is important for one specific reason; it clearly shows that addiction is not because of a “lack of willpower.” Instead, the slippery slope of becoming “an addict” it is far more complex than that.

You may have heard the phrase, “love simply comes down to chemicals.” Every pleasurable activity we as humans experience are secondary to chemicals being released in our brains. So, whenever a person engages in a pleasurable activity, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine into the reward or pleasure centre (also in the brain). Our brain’s impulses react in such a way that we experience a subjective experience of “pleasure.”

But why do human beings need to experience pleasure?

Evolution ensured that we would so that we could consistently repeat activities that are rewarding and pleasurable to us. Imagine if we did not find pleasure in eating food? We would lack that drive or impulse given off from our reward centre and not actively seek out things that bring us pleasure.

This is where drug addiction (and alcohol addiction) becomes involved. Drugs and alcohol interrupt the normal workings of this reward pathway via the following;

Drugs release a massive surge of dopamine upon ingestion/inhalation/injection.
Euphoria results from the large amount of dopamine.
Over time, consistently large releases of dopamine reinforce the reward pathway.
Small amounts of dopamine no longer activate this reinforced pathway effectively.
The user is driven to constantly seek out more drugs and dopamine.

Thus, physical changes cause psychological changes (2). And where there are physical changes, “willpower” cannot change anything.

2. Provide a supportive environment

Understand that it is your support and persistence that is the key factor in helping someone to quit drinking. It has been proven in multiple studies that the following help with individual’s addiction and also expedite their timeous recovery (3):

Spouses or partners
Family members

If there are difficulties at home, evidence also supports the use of couple therapy and family therapy (4). Always allow an alcoholic to feel less alone, by letting them know that both of you (or a group of you) are tackling a daunting task together. There is strength in numbers.

Additionally, peer support groups, with either abstainers or people in recovery, should be encouraged. This allows someone with an alcohol problem to talk to peers (going through the same motions that they themselves are going through) in a non-judgemental and non-clinical environment. A recent review of the literature (5) showed that these services;

Reduce substance use
Improve abstinence
Significantly reduce relapse rates
Reduce risky behaviours
Improve self-efficacy
Reduce cravings
Reduce feelings of shame or guilt

Examples of these groups in the United Kingdom can be found at

[READ] 12 Step Treatment Programme

[READ] Drug Rehab Treatments by Abbeycare

3. Motivational rather than confrontational interventions

Motivate, don’t confront.

For a long time now in the literature and in the practice of clinical psychology, motivation has been identified as the key to change (6). A landmark paper was published by Miller, Benefield and Tonigan (7) that compared therapist styles when counselling alcoholics. In follow-up, it was found that the more the therapist confronted the patient, the more the patient drank. This is because confrontation usually produces an immediate client resistance to change. This kind of style included, but was not limited to, directly challenging the client about their problem, disputing them and being sarcastic.

Please take note that, when speaking to an alcoholic, using any of the aforementioned tactics or confronting them directly does not help. The style that instead is proven to work is a supportive, empathic style that uses reflective listening and gentle persuasion (7).

Remember, your task is not to instruct and teach. Your task is to motivate for change. You can leave it up to a therapist, doctor or trained community worker. But you can also incorporate motivational interviewing techniques with the alcoholic you want to help. Here are the basic principles, as suggested by Morrison (8):

Roll with resistance – avoid arguing.
Express empathy – allow the person you are trying to help to be heard.
Develop discrepancy – identifying the alcoholic’s ambivalence, the most important step. This can easily be done by asking someone what the most important things in their life are. For example, someone may say that their children are the most important to them, but because they are struggling with their alcohol problem, they cannot attend to their children’s needs. This creates inner discomfort and may evoke the realisation for change.
Support self-efficacy – support their hope that change is possible by affirming their previous successes and personal strengths.

“Interventions”, which we are all familiar with from any soap opera on television, therefore might or might not be effective, depending on the way you conduct them. However, walking into a room of stony-faced family members or friends is usually confrontational. This makes them therefore ineffective as the person you are trying to help is instantly defensive and resistant.

4. Residential rehabilitation

One of the important questions we aimed to answer in this topic is if “rehab” is necessary or not. We have all seen this concept of “rehab” glamourized by celebrities; they get on a private plane and then take a leave of absence to check into an expensive centre in Beverly Hills or Zurich.

However, this is reality and not all rehab centres serve caviar for dessert.

In the literature, “rehab” is referred to “residential alcohol treatment”. In the United Kingdom (UK), provisions for this is made by the voluntary and independent sector. The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (9) supports these facilities and recognises that “residential rehabilitation is a vital and potent component of the drug and alcohol treatment system”.

Public Health England (1) provides the definition of residential rehab as that of a “structured drug and alcohol treatment setting where residence is a condition of receiving the interventions.” Between 2017 and 2018 in England, a total of 5,980 clients utilized these treatment settings.

A recent observational cohort study (10) was conducted in England and showed 59% of patients completed their treatment successfully in 12 months without relapse for 6 months thereafter. These patients had been withdrawn from an inpatient programme and transferred to a residential rehabilitation setting. Patients with higher levels of success had;

Paid employment
Self/family/peer referral
Longer duration of treatment in the rehab setting
Community-based treatment following discharge

Each rehab centre varies in which model they use to help with detoxification, such as the 12-step model made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous, faith-based or therapeutic community. No research has proven the efficacy of one model over the other as it’s largely an individual preference (5).

What you may be wondering about is cost, and residential settings are more expensive than alternatives; however, evidence shows that the initial costs are largely offset by reductions in subsequent health care and criminal justice costs (11). The good news for people in the United Kingdom is that most people receive at least a contribution from public funds, depending on their pension and income.

Please consult rehab-online as part of Public Health England to find a centre that matches your needs.

5. Involve a professional and explore medical options

You can involve a professional by calling a rehabilitation centre or consulting with a physician, community health worker or psychiatrist. You should never be bearing the full brunt of the addiction on your shoulders alone, lest you burn out.

A general practitioner is often a good place to start. They can advise regarding the options discussed in this article and also perform motivational interviewing themselves on your loved one. Importantly, they can also assist with medical options and medication for alcoholism.

The following medicines are supported by NICE guidelines (4).


Please see How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science) for more information on these medications.

Ask your doctor about the use of these medications and their side-effects. They are all backed by science but bear in mind that whilst NICE supports their use, it also advises using medication in combination with psychosocial interventions (rehabilitation, counselling and peer support), unless these interventions have failed (4).

6. Avoid co-dependency

If you are close to the alcohol user, you yourself are also at risk of falling into the trap of becoming co-dependent. Co-dependency refers to depending on the alcoholic for happiness and approval, and basing your identity and self-worth on this person (12).

It has been historically shown (13) to enable the behaviour of an alcoholic and, in some instances, become co-alcoholics. This is because co-dependency means;

You manage their problems for them, when he or she should be doing it without you.
You let them get their way most of the time.
You may lie to keep them out of trouble.
You don’t allow your partner to face the reality of being an alcoholic.

If you feel that any of these signs apply to you, refer to the previous subsection and always seek help from a profession.

The psychology behind this also becomes rapidly twisted as a person who is co-dependent may even start to resent an alcoholic seeking help for his addiction, and the co-dependent may subconsciously attempt to sabotage these efforts (12).

Takeaway message…

You would not have clicked on this article if it did not apply to your life and loved ones in some way or another. Maybe the person you want to help is in complete denial, or maybe they are already on the road to recovery.

The bottom line is that you need to understand the science behind why an addict cannot control themselves in order to lessen the anger you may feel towards them. Your support, at the end of the day, is tantamount and will be the one factor guiding them to recovery.

Don’t be confrontational and always seek out help from a professional; whether you go via the route of a general practitioner, support group or rehab centre, all have proven benefits. However, never let yourself get burned out. A carers job is just as important as the monumental task that faces an alcoholic on recovery.

Getting Help 

Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091



  1. Public Health England. 2018. Adult Substance Misuse Statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS): 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018. Available:
  2. Koob, G.F., & Le Moal, M. 2008. Addiction and the brain antireward system. Annual Reviews in Psychology 59:29–5.
  3. Kelly, S.M., O’Grady K.E., Schwartz R.P., Peterson J.A., Wilson M.E., & Brown B.S. 2010. The relationship of social support to treatment entry and engagement: the community assessment inventory. Subst Abus 31(1):43–52. doi: 10.1080/08897070903442640.
  4. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2011). Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence, NICE clinical guideline 115 (NICE, London) Available:
  5. Tracy, K., & Wallace, S.P. 2016. Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction. Subst Abuse Rehabil 7: 143-154. doi:
  6. Miller, W.R. 1999. Enhancing motivation for change in substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol Series, No. 35. Rockville, MD: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
  7. Miller, W.R., Benefield, R.G., and Tonigan, J.S. 1993. Enhancing motivation for change in problem drinking: A controlled comparison of two therapist styles. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 61(3):455–461
  8. Morrison, T. 2010. Assessing parental motivation to change. In J. Horwath (Ed.),The child’s world: The comprehensive guide to assessing children in need (2nd ed.). London: Jan Kinglsey Publisher.
  9. National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. Residential drug treatment services: good practice in the field. London; 2012.
  10. Eastwood, B., Peacock, A., Millar, T., Jones, A., Knight, J., Horgan, P., Lowden, T., Willey, P., & Marsden, J. 2018. Effectiveness of inpatient withdrawal and residential rehabilitation interventions for alcohol use disorder: A national observational, cohort study in England. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 88: 1-8. doi:
  11. Sheffield Hallam University. Residential Treatment Services: Evidence Review. 2017.
  12. Alpine Springs Rehabilitation & Recovery. 2018. The Relationship Between Codependency & Alcohol Abuse. Available:
  13. Cotton, N.S. 1979. The familial incidence of alcoholism: a review. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 40(1), 89–116.


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How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science)

Concerned about a loved one? Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

image of hand rejecting alcoholThere’s a worldwide epidemic on our hands, and it’s at the bottom of your wine glass. The World Health Organization (1) estimates that nearly three million deaths each year are related to alcohol use.

The National Health Service (NHS) produced its own statistics in 2018 (2) which showed a rise in the death toll due to alcohol; an 11% increase since 2006.

If there is ever a good excuse to stop drinking, this is it! We have reviewed the literature to provide you with evidence-based information about how to best stop drinking.

Before we dive into the article, let’s establish if you as the reader (or anyone you may know) have potential problems with alcohol. The NHS (3) recommends not drinking more than 14 units of alcohol a week.

A unit is roughly equivalent to just less than a small glass of wine, a single small shot of spirits or half a pint of a beer/cider. You could be abusing alcohol if you drink more than this, or by answering affirmatively to any of the following in the CAGE questionnaire (3):

  1. You feel you need to Cut down on your drinking.
  2. You get Annoyed if other people criticize your drinking.
  3. You feel Guilty about your drinking.
  4. You need an Eye-opener first thing in the morning to get rid of a hangover.


If any of these apply to yourself or someone you may know, then read on; these are ways to help you stop drinking for good.


In this Article…

  1. Understanding dependence and addiction is the first step
  2. Tackle from multiple angles
  3. Changing behaviour and avoiding external temptation
  4. Seek out peer support
  5. Reward yourself – the right way
  6. Healthy lifestyle, healthy you
  7. Suppress withdrawal symptoms
  8. Appreciating the positive health benefits

Understanding dependence and addiction is the first step

We have referenced this in another article on this blog, How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science). Please take a moment to read through the mechanism of the reward pathway in the brain, to understand how addiction is related to a compulsive need to seek out dopamine to stimulate this reward pathway.

In summary, however, addiction is caused by physical changes in the brain that lead to psychological changes (4). These physical changes in the brain are not something that can be controlled by simply having “willpower.” The good news is that you can, so to speak, “re-programme” these changes in your brain. The bad news? You need to commit to wanting to change. The following points in the article describe different ways that help you stop drinking.

Tackle from multiple angles

An alcohol user in recovery has two broad options;

  1. Medication to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and cravings
  2. Psychosocial approaches


However, it’s not a one-method-fixes all approach. Remember what we just covered in the previous subsection; alcohol addiction is related to both physical and psychological changes.

The evidence in the NICE Clinical Guidelines (5) shows that, in general, psychosocial approaches should be offered to all individuals who misuse alcohol. For those people where such approaches have not worked or those who are mildly dependent, medication may be an add-on treatment option.

“Psychosocial approaches” refers to a broad variety of tools and therapy to help an individual abstain from alcohol. It refers to treating a person’s psychological and social issues at hand, rather than simply taking medicine to combat disease. This is offered by community groups, peer support groups and therapists.

Nonetheless, if a patient, for whatever reason, does not wish to undertake psychosocial interventions and understands the risks and implications of taking medication only, they cannot be denied this.

The bottom line, however, is the following; if you truly want to stop drinking for good, you need to take home multiple suggestions from this article rather than just one.

Get Free Advice. Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

[READ] Treating Alcohol Addiction at Home

[READ] Alcohol Addiction Treatments Options

Changing behaviour and avoiding external temptation
Social temptations

Changing behaviour and avoiding external temptation

Changing behaviour sounds difficult and, spoiler alert, it is difficult. Very difficult.

We create behavioural patterns, or habits, by behaviour we choose to enforce and repeat. We can change this behaviour, of course, but often it is done best with the help of a trained professional.

Behavioural therapy is offered often in a rehabilitation (or “rehab”) setting, but can also be offered by a trained psychologist or community health worker. We encourage you to read our article How to Help an Alcoholic – Is Alcohol Rehab Required? in order to find out more information and links to various rehabilitation services.

One of the most effective interventions that can be offered by a trained professional, according to the literature, is Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which posits that even though we may not be able to change our circumstances, we can change the way we think about them (5). It also includes strategies to prevent relapse and coping skills. It is a well-established and, most importantly, evidence-based treatment for multiple substance disorders causing a statistically significant effect on reducing substance-use rates (6). Be sure to ask your therapist or friendly professional about this therapy.

A new and emerging therapy is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (6), which reduces cravings by increasing a client’s awareness of external triggers to drink. After all, sometimes, we are not always aware of the situations and people that lead us to increase drinking. It also increases tolerance to these triggers. So that, even if we are in those situations, the need to drink is lessened. Unfortunately, there have only been a few randomized controlled trials evaluating this technique to date and more research will be needed.

However, the above-mentioned principles can still be incorporated into your everyday life without physically attending therapy. Namely, by avoiding external triggers. In other words:

  • Avoid people and situations where drinking is encouraged
  • Try to start recognizing situations (and the people involved) where you are most likely to drink

Seek out peer support

Don’t walk the lonely road of recovery alone. It has been proven that people who undertake alcohol abuse recovery without an adequate support system soon relapse (5). If you can think of someone who can provide you with this support, involve them in your recovery. You have a much better chance at success, statistically speaking. Or, reach out to the following support networks:

  • Self-help groups
  • Couple or family therapy

Free Support – Call 24/7: 01603 513 091


An example of a well-known self-help group is Alcoholics Anonymous but there are many others that can offer help. Whilst the jury is out on some of the evidence surrounding Alcoholics Anonymous’s methods (for example, its 12-step programme), the importance of a self-help group is rather the environment it provides, wherein assistance from peers helps to aid recovery and provide much needed mutual understanding (5). Examples of these groups in the United Kingdom can be found at

Behavioural couples’ therapy, particularly where one person has an alcohol use problem and the other does not, has been shown to reducing drinking in multiple clinical trials (5). Similarly, if there are unresolved conflicts in a family or interpersonal relationship, family therapy has also been shown to reduce drinking and alcoholism (5).

Reward yourself – the right way

As we previously learned in this article, alcohol use directly affects the part of the brain which makes decision related to perceived “rewards”. Thus, it stands to reason that if we change how we reward ourselves, we depend less on certain inputs like alcohol in order to create that surge of dopamine.

In counselling, motivational interviewing is the evidence-backed tool (5) which employs this exact logic in order to try to empower the client to elicit change. A trained interviewer will often reframe their clients’ problem in certain ways. Take a moment to think about what the following statement from a therapist implies;

“After a stressful day at work, you may need to reward yourself in the evenings.”

What does this imply?

  • Alcohol can act as a reward
  • But there are various other alternative “rewards”


Now, think about your favourite activities that help you settle down and reward yourself.  Think about the activities you no longer take time to do because you are drinking instead. Are you ready to allow yourself to reward yourself with them, rather than a bottle of wine?

Healthy lifestyle, healthy you

Evidence from existing studies (7) suggests that exercise is a useful adjunctive tool to help one stop drinking. Science points to a dual action of physical activity on alcoholism;

  1. It may lessen the negative effects of alcoholism on health.
  2. It acts centrally on the neurotransmitter and dopamine systems involved in the mechanisms of addiction.


So, we become healthier and we repair some of that physical damage done to our brains caused by drinking. However, there is no current evidence on the optimal intensity, duration, frequency and type of physical activity.

A healthy diet is also important. There is now growing research (8) which promotes a diet of the following;

Limiting sugar and junk food. This is because low blood sugar/glucose induces craving for alcohol. Sugar causes your blood glucose to soar and then quickly drop, inducing cravings for more sugar and alcohol.

Increasing whole grains and fruit. These digests more slowly and keep glucose levels more stable. Thus, you crave sugar and alcohol less.

Increasing L-glutamine-containing foods. L-glutamine decreases cravings for alcohol as well as replacing nutrients lost because of alcohol abuse. Such foods include: almonds, Cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds, free-range poultry, low-fat yoghurt and avocado.

Increasing dopamine-enhancing foods. As we know, this replaces the dopamine in our brain’s reward centre and thus prevents alcohol withdrawal. Tyrosine, a dopamine precursor, is abundant in protein-rich food such as chicken, avocado and turkey. Ripe bananas, strawberries and blueberries help trigger dopamine release.

Suppress withdrawal symptoms

We can suppress withdrawal symptoms effectively with prescribed medication. Remember, this is not a stand-alone treatment option.

NICE guidelines (5) support the use of the following medications:

Acamprosate – reduces withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia

Naltrexone – reduces alcohol cravings

Disulfiram – discourages drinking by making a patient feel ill after the ingestion of alcohol


NICE recommends using medication in combination with psychosocial interventions or if psychosocial interventions have failed. Acamprosate and naltrexone are generally recommended first and foremost; however, disulfiram can be offered if a patient would prefer it. However, one needs to understand that disulfiram has harmful and unpleasant side-effects, such as the extremely unpleasant and amplified hangover effects after drinking alcohol, liver damage, skin rashes and cardiovascular problems (9). Always be sure to ask your doctor if it is the right medicine for you.

Appreciating the positive health benefits

Research proves that excessive alcohol intake can cause (10):

  • Liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Pancreatitis
  • Increased breast and gastrointestinal cancer risk
  • Neurological complications
  • Unintentional injuries


The good news, however, is that if you quit before the onset of one of these diseases, a study has shown that there is no significant difference in the number of diseases or health status between former drinkers and people who have never ingested alcohol (11). So, the sooner you stop, the more likely it is that you can prevent any further damage to your body.

Takeaway message…

At the end of the day, your biggest opponent is your own brain. Note how “brain” is mentioned rather than “mind”, as the fallacy that quitting an addiction is simply a matter of willpower must end. Take advantage of now having the scientific knowledge behind knowing why it’s so difficult to quit; this will, in turn, help you replace alcohol’s positive effects and banish its negative effects. After all, there are so many other things in this world that we should be rewarding ourselves with.


Getting Help

Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones.

Call our local number 01603 513 091



  1. World Health Organization (WHO). 2004. WHO global status report on alcohol 2004. Available:
  2. NHS Digital. 2018. Statistics on Alcohol, England, 2018. Available:
  3. 2018. Alcohol misuse. Available:
  4. Koob, G.F., & Le Moal, M. 2008. Addiction and the brain antireward system. Annual Reviews in Psychology 59:29–5.
  5. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. (2011). Alcohol-use disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management of harmful drinking and alcohol dependence, NICE clinical guideline 115 (NICE, London) Available:
  6. Kiluk, B.D, & Carroll, K.M. 2013. New Developments in Behavioral Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep 15(12). doi: 1007/s11920-013-0420-1
  7. Manthou, E., Georgakouli, K., Fatouros, I.G., Gianoulakis, C., Theodorakis, Y., & Zamurtas, A.Z. 2016. Role of exercise in the treatment of alcohol use disorders. Biomed Rep 4(5): 535-545. doi: 3892/br.2016.626
  8. Arun, A., Vijayalakshmi, S., Arun, K., & Srivastava, C. 2016. An alternate diet approach to quitting alcoholism. International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences. 7(4). doi: 10.22376/ijpbs.2016.7.4.b511-516.
  9. com. 2018. Anatabuse for Treating Alcoholism. Available:
  10. 2018. Cardiovascular benefits and risks of moderate alcohol consumption. Available:
  11. Park, J., Ryu, Y., & Cho, S. 2017. The Association Between Health Changes and Cessation of Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol Alcohol 52(3): 344-350. doi: 1093/alcalc/agw089


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Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031


Drink deaths will cost an extra 250,000 lives by 2031 Source – The Guardian Up to 250,000 people could die because of alcohol over the next 20 years unless ministers take strong action to tackle Britain’s chronic drink problems, leading doctors are warning.

The prediction comes in the edition of the Lancet medical journal by three senior experts on alcohol, two of whom are advising the coalition on how to reduce drink-related harm. In a scathing critique of the government’s approach to alcohol, the trio accuses ministers of pursuing policies that will make no difference to the soaring rates of drink-related liver disease. Ministers, including the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are “too close” to the drinks industry and too reluctant to take effective steps, they say. They welcome the government’s decision to continue raising the cost of drinks at 2% above inflation.

Related How To Detox From Alcohol At Home 

However, “plans to ban the sale of alcohol beverages below cost (duty plus VAT) and to increase duty on beer over 7.5% strength is inconsequential because of the tiny fraction of sales that fall into either category”, write Dr Nick Sheron, Professor Ian Gilmore and Professor Chris Hawkey.

“These policies suggest that the government remains too close to the industry and lacks clear aspiration to reduce the impact of cheap, readily available, and heavily marketed alcohol on individuals and on society,” they write.

Sheron, a clinical hepatologist, and Gilmore, the chairman of the Alcohol Health Alliance of medical groups and charities, both serve on the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network along with representatives of the drinks industry.

The doctors estimated how many lives would be saved or lost in England and Wales by 2031, depending on whether ministers pursued a strategy of only minimal change or robust regulation, over and above those that are already expected on current trends. Liver deaths have more than doubled in the UK since 1986.

Introducing a minimum price per unit of alcohol and adopting a French-style ban on drink advertising and sponsorship could together see liver death rates fall from the existing estimate of 18,000-30,000 to just 2,500 by 2019, they calculate. But allowing the current upward trajectory of such mortality to continue unchecked would lead to 77,000 extra liver deaths by 2031. However, the wider harms from alcohol, such as deaths from accidents and violence, could mean that as many as 160,000 to 250,000 lives are lost or saved over the next two decades, depending on whether effective action is taken or not.

Historical precedents, such as action to tackle the gin epidemic of 1730-50 and the Defence of the Realm Act in 1914, show that raising the price of alcohol and restricting its availability are the two proven ways of reducing drink-related harm, the authors argue. Yet ministers, they say, have rejected major changes in both areas.

“How many more people have to die from alcohol-related conditions, and how many more families devastated by the consequences before the government takes the situation as seriously as it took the dangers of tobacco?” asked Sir Richard Thompson, president of the Royal College of Physicians, which represents hospital doctors.

He accused ministers of ignoring international evidence showing that price rises and reduced availability are the best two ways to reduce the consumption of alcohol. “Just as the government would expect us to treat our patients with effective medicines, we expect the government to take much stronger action to protect people from alcohol-related harm,” he said. “When will that happen?” The Department of Health rejected the doctors’ views. “The government has wasted no time in taking tough action to tackle problem drinking, including plans to stop supermarkets selling below-cost alcohol and working to introduce a tougher licensing regime,” said a spokeswoman. Reforming public health would also help, and there will be a new alcohol strategy in the summer, she added.

Related How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science)


Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse

The price of a drink Survey reveals cost of alcohol abuse Source – The Guardian

The toll that alcohol takes on many people’s lives is laid bare in a survey which has prompted fresh calls for action to tackle widespread chronic drinking across Britain. Alcohol’s role in everything from injury and relationship breakdown to trouble with the police, emerges in a poll commissioned by a group of senior doctors. Some 11% of people polled have seen a friend or relative’s relationship end as a direct result of heavy drinking. One in five (21%) know someone who has driven while over the legal alcohol limit. And 51% know someone who has been a victim of drink-related violence, or has been attacked themselves. The survey also found that 14% of children are being brought up in a family where at least one adult has a drink problem.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG), paints a graphic picture of alcohol’s many negative consequences. The survey of 2,221 people found that: – 14% admit they have injured themselves while drunk; 2% have injured others. – 43% know at least one person with a drink problem, and 5% say they know more than five people. – 12% have a family member who they believe drinks too much. – 13% go to work at least occasionally feeling unwell due to a heavy drinking session, and 9% have taken time off for that reason. – 4% of women and 1% of men have been involved in domestic abuse linked to alcohol. – 11% know someone who has had to be treated in A&E because of alcohol. – 5% of men have ended up in trouble with the police for that reason. Young people are disproportionately likely to suffer harm.

Some 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 31% of 25 to 34-year-olds admit injuring themselves while drunk, while 12% and 15% respectively of the same age groups have taken time off work due to drink. “These findings show there’s a big problem in terms of harm, aggression, antisocial behaviour and actually some very sad outcomes,” said BSG spokesman Professor Chris Hawkey. “Dysfunctional and violent behaviour due to alcohol have become social norms. There used to be shame attached to alcohol dependence and its consequences, but clearly there’s much less of that around now.” He called on ministers to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit and implement tough restrictions on the advertising of alcohol based on those in France, which bans drink ads on TV and in the cinema, and forbids alcohol sponsorship of sporting or cultural events.

Alcohol Concern, which represents drink treatment services, said the poll undermined industry claims that only a small number of people were affected by excess consumption. “This research shows drunkenness has become a cultural norm and is negatively impacting the lives of millions of people, many of whom are responsible drinkers,” said Don Shenker, the charity’s chief executive. He also called for tougher action against drinks retailers and promoters. “Their irresponsible practices are creating the mirage that drinking is a social right with no consequences.

The reality is far from that. What we have is alcohol being sold for pennies and an accepted culture of excess which blights our town centres and affects friends, neighbours and loved ones,” he added.Professor Steve Field, until recently president of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the coalition’s plan to ban the sale of alcohol at below cost price. “This is a step in the right direction,” Field said, but added : “The policy must be kept under review: if it is not shown to make a difference on the public’s health, and on antisocial behaviour, then I would urge ministers to look again at a minimum price per unit of alcohol.” A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The majority of people drink responsibly but these findings reflect that alcohol consumption is a serious problem for too many. No one thing will solve this complex challenge of alcohol misuse and the Government is taking action on all fronts including banning the sale of alcohol below cost price and giving local authorities more power over local licensing decisions.” She added: “It is not clear that national minimum unit pricing is the best way to reduce harm so we need to look at other options in England.” Return to All News

United States FDA Concerned Over Caffeine

The US Federal Drug Administration has issued warnings targeting specific drinks in a clampdown on alcoholic beverages with a high caffeine content. The drinks in question are mostly seen in the States, and are malt based and premixed drinks. The FDA is concerned that the drinks labelling does not state that adding caffeine is “generally recognised as safe”. In some cases, the drinks contained other stimulants alongside caffeine itself. The FDA website claims that they have data and expert opinion that caffeine can: “…mask sensory cues that people rely on to determine how intoxicated they are.

Binge Drinkers Double Their Risk of Heart Disease

A study conducted by the Toulouse University Hospital, and published in the British Medical Journal, into the link between drinking habits and health have concluded that although their French participants drank more regularly than the Irish, it was the Irish binge drinking habit that resulted in higher levels of poor heart health.

The study compared the men’s choice of drinks, amount of drinks and regularity of drinking as well as their standard of overall health over a ten year period. The findings were that even if the French and Irish men drank the same amounts, over time it was the regularity and type of alcohol that had the most effect on the results. The Irish men tended to drink over the recommended amounts in single ‘sessions’, what is classified as Binge Drinking, where their French counterparts tended to drink smaller amounts, more regularly. The research found that three quarters of the French men tended to drink every day compared to 12% of the Irish, but although drinking more often they drank considerably less each time. Only 0.5% of the French admitted to drinking 5 small wines, or 3 pints of beer/lager in one sitting.

In Ireland, that number shoots to 9%. With the numbers involved, that means that although 7,500 French men admitted drinking daily compared to the Irish 1,200, only 50 French men could be considered ‘binge drinkers’ compared to 900 Irish. The 10 year follow up found that the binge drinking men had double the risk of heart attacks or death form heart disease than the regular drinkers. A representative of the British Heart Foundation, senior cardiac nurse Amy Thompson, has stated: “This reinforces what we already know, that drinking high levels of alcohol can be harmful to your heart.” The British Medical Journal The British Heart Foundation.

SNP vs MSPs in Minimum Pricing Debate

05 November 2010 The First Minister Alex Salmond has re-ignited the minimum pricing debate in Holyrood, as he challenged Members of the Scottish Parliament to back the now notorious element of the controversial Alcohol Bill. Appealing to the MSP’s sense of ‘leadership’ he asked them to put aside their personal opposition to the bill; saying: “.. the cost of alcohol is key in terms of consumption levels. Yet, to date, no credible alternative proposals for tackling the low cost of alcohol have been put forward.” “This Parliament now has the opportunity to show some leadership by supporting the minimum price proposals.” The legislation has already faced various set-backs, and has been roundly rejected on various occasions by the sitting government. Return to Abbeycare News. Go Back 1 : Go Forward 1 Return to All News

Alcohol Age Rise Plan Rejected

Scottish Government plans to allow the minimum age for buying alcohol from off-sales to be raised from 18 to 21 have been rejected by MSPs. The SNP administration wanted to let local licensing boards ban off-license sales to under 21s but the move was blocked by Holyrood’s Health Committee. It is the latest blow to the Scottish Governments alcohol Bill. Last week, Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs voted to remove a measure setting a minimum price for alcohol. Opposition MSPs have now said the move to raise the purchase age would discriminate against young people.

Caffeinated Alcohol Ban Considered

The Scottish Government will “carefully consider” Labour calls to ban caffeinated alcoholic drinks,

Nicola Sturgeon the Health Secretary has stated. The move would actually put a limit on the amount of caffeine allowed in a drink by law, effectively banning drinks like the notorious Buckfast Tonic wine, which relies heavily on its high caffeine content for its popularity. Miss Sturgeon has insisted that there is no evidence that this move alone would protect health or prevent crime in line with European Law. Experts told Holyrood’s Health Committee on Wednesday there was no evidence to suggest the tonic wine caused or increased violence. Ms Sturgeon told MSP’s during First Minister’s Questions: “I have consistently said that I remain open to the consideration of any proposals by Labour or others that I would contribute to reducing alcohol related harm.

Abbeycare 92% Successful Treatment Through Recovery

We have a 92% successful treatment through recovery rate here at Abbeycare, having monitored and analysed completion rates of our clients at Abbeycare alcohol treatment clinic .

Completion rates were highest for intensive inpatient alcohol treatment (92%). We have established that factors associated with treatment completion included a thorough screening and assessment at the point of admission, education, age, ethnicity, and existence of a secondary drug problem.

We have concluded that most importantly the fit between clients and treatment programs is the single most important factor in explaining why some clients complete treatment and others drop out.

That is why at Abbeycare we will work with the person to identify their needs and the best pathway for them on their own journey to recovery by offering the full variety of evidence based pathways.

Alcohol Poisoning Treatment

Alcohol poisoning is more than often a result of binge drinking and if it happens it may be worth seeking alcohol treatment. Alcohol Poisoning occurs when a person drinks too much alcohol in a short space of time. Alcohol treatment can help identify whether a person is regularly putting themselves at risk of alcohol poisoning.

Essentially the central nervous system is impacted when too much alcohol is consumed, which makes breathing and heart rate slow down, and perhaps most importantly while also compromising your gag reflex.

It is extremely important that alcohol poisoning is dealt with as soon as possible if they are not the consequences can be deadly. Beware! Telling the person in question to drink coffee, sleep it off or be sick will NOT help them.

What are the symptoms of alcohol poisoning?

  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular or slow breathing
  • Blue-tinged or pale skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Being conscious but unresponsive
  • Unconsciousness passing out
  • Seizures can also become apparent

Treatment for alcohol poisoning

Hydrating the patient and making sure oxygen intake is adequate is very important to recovery. As stated before, binge drinking is one of the main causes of alcohol poisoning.

Binge drinking can cause a number of injuries, overdoses and mental health problems. If you think you or someone close to you binge drinks, it may be time to seek alcohol treatment or rehab help. When a person binge drinks it indicates that they may have a serious alcohol problem.

Signs and Symptoms of Binge drinking

It is very easy to be and remain in denial about our own or loved one’s addiction. If you recognise these signs and symptoms of binge drinking or alcohol abuse it may be time to seek alcohol treatment.

  • Increase in alcohol tolerance
  • Drinking to relieve stress or emotional pain
  • Memory blackouts
  • Lost interest in usual activities
  • Money troubles
  • Physical deterioration
  • Avoiding family and friends
  • Many failed attempts to control or stop alcohol dependence
  • An urgency to have that “first drink”
  • Has dark moods and is irritable
  • Guilt and remorse about drinking dependence
  • Lack of concentration


Related How to Stop Drinking Alcohol for Good (Backed by Science)

Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

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You withdraw from alcohol only after you have become dependent on alcohol. In other words, once your body and mind have become used to the presence of alcohol in your system, you are liable to suffer physical and emotional distress when the alcohol is removed.

Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • » exaggerated trembling
  • » sweating
  • » shivering
  • » blurred vision
  • » short-term confusion
  • » hyperventilation and panic


However, the clearest indication of alcohol withdrawal is that the other symptoms are quickly eliminated when you take another drink. Putting alcohol back into your system makes you stop panicking, restores your composure, and soon the trembling and sweating passes.

Having experienced withdrawal a first time, you may become anxious just at the thought of being without alcohol. As a result, the need to obtain more alcohol is likely to be in your mind throughout the day. Likewise, your first thought after waking up (because you’ve had a few hours without alcohol) is likely to be about drink.

Alcohol withdrawal is NOT a bad hangover, although it shares symptoms in common with a hangover. A hangover is a sign that you have drunk too much, and the effects soon pass. Withdrawal is a sign that you need more alcohol in order just to function, and the symptoms will get worse and worse as the hour’s pass.

If you are alcohol dependent, then withdrawal may be a devastating – and potentially fatal – experience. Neither you nor anybody with you should underestimate the impact of withdrawal. When you suddenly remove alcohol from your system, then you run many risks, including the possibility of a seizure, as well as becoming unable to negotiate stairs, or use cars, kitchens or bathrooms safely. You are also liable to panic, and eventually will probably be driven to obtain more alcohol ‘at any cost’.

If you suffer alcohol withdrawal, the clear advice is that you should not suddenly stop drinking alcohol except under medical supervision. Instead, you must moderate your alcohol intake, then seek help and support immediately to enable you to quit safely and effectively.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Simply put, alcohol withdrawal is the stopping and reduction in the level and/or quantity of regular alcohol intake.

When you have consumed a rather high amount of alcohol than your body can carry consistently for a period of time let’s say a week, a month, a year or even more, and you decide to stop or reduce regular alcohol intake over this period of time, that is the definition of alcohol withdrawal.


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Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

There are a number of symptoms to look out for when you are withdrawing from alcohol.

Typical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may include:

  1. Exaggerated trembling
  2. Sweating
  3. Shivering
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Short-term confusion
  6. Hyperventilation and panic


Let’s look at the above-mentioned symptoms in detail.


1.) Exaggerated trembling

The occurrence of exaggerated trembling as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal is mostly dependent on the severity of  withdrawal syndrome.

Another name for exaggerated trembling is tremors and this can be caused by several factors. But as it relates to alcohol withdrawal the most common forms of tremors or exaggerated trembling are cerebellar tremor and enhanced physiologic tremor.

Exaggerated trembling can begin from about 6 hours after you has his or her last drink or may begin sooner. The signs for exaggerated trembling include trouble drawing or writing with the hands, a shaky voice and rhythmic shaking of the hands or the body.


2.) Sweating

Sweating as a symptom of alcohol withdrawal is dependent on the severity of the condition. That is for how the person has been dependent or addicted to alcohol. Severe sweating as a symptom can occur up to 10 days after the person had his or her last drink.


3.)  Shivering

Another symptom of alcohol withdrawal is shivering. Shivering as a result of withdrawal from alcohol is a sign of a severe case of withdrawal.

Shivering can start to occur 2 to 4 days after the person had his or her last drink.

In a case of severe shivering, the patient can be recommended for treatment immediately.



Get instant pricing for supervised residential alcohol detox, here.


4.) Blurred vision

We all know how important our eyes and sight is to us in our daily commute and affairs. Alcohol for its part has different side effects and effects on the human body including our sight.

One of the symptoms is blurred vision and most people who have had symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have suffered from blurry vision at one time or the other when trying to give up alcohol.

Double vision or blurry vision after drinking alcohol can be temporary effects of intoxication or a hangover. This effect is not long lasting as it is just due to hangover and its effects clears after you are sobered thereby clearing your sight in 24 hours.

Apart from the blurry vision withdrawal symptoms which is just a symptom on its own, you can also experience blurred vision during detox.

Hangover blurred vision is an indication of high level of binge drinking.

It is important that the dangers of drinking, especially to your eyes is understood clearly. This is because alcohol addiction and problem drinking can cause long term damages to the eyes.

In a severe case, excess alcohol consumption can lead to blindness after the human brain’s ability to process visual input has been impaired.


5.) Short-term confusion

Short-term confusion is also part of the symptoms. For someone going through alcohol withdrawal to suffer the short-term confusion symptom depends on the severity of the person’s withdrawal symptoms.

Short-term confusion symptoms can be noticed during the withdrawal stage. The symptoms could be mild to the moderate and even severe. Short-term confusion is mostly a symptom of a case of moderate alcohol withdrawal.

In a situation where the confusion being experienced by the patient goes beyond short-term confusion, it has then crossed the moderate stage to the severe stage. Which can then be ascribed as Delirium Tremens.

What is Delirium Tremens (DTs)?

Delirium Tremens is a situation whereby the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal have become severe. At this stage, the symptoms have gone beyond mild and moderate, and has become severe.

The condition is characterised by changes in the nervous system.

Which also changes the mental status of the person. The condition is commonly present in people who have abused alcohol for a long period of time usually for more than 10 years. At this stage, the alcohol withdrawal short-term confusion symptom becomes a case of severe confusion. Delirium Tremens, however, are present in only about 5% of patients who are going through withdrawal from alcohol.


6.) Hyperventilation and panic

Hyperventilation happens to almost everyone experiencing alcohol withdrawal. This symptom is often noticed in people who have lived a long alcohol dependent live.

In this case, hyperventilation does not come alone. It works with panic. Hyperventilation and panic as symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are evidence of a life of long dependence on alcohol use.

The longer you have lived a life of alcohol dependence, the more severe the hyperventilation and panic can get.

The clearest indication of alcohol withdrawal is that the other symptoms are quickly eliminated when you take another drink. Putting alcohol back into your body makes you stop panicking, restores your composure, and soon the trembling and sweating passes.

Having experienced withdrawal for the time, you may become anxious just at the thought of being without alcohol. As a result, the need to drink more alcohol is likely to be in your mind throughout the day. Likewise, your first thought after waking up (because you’ve had a few hours without alcohol) is likely to be about a drink.

Alcohol withdrawal is not a bad hangover, although it shares symptoms in common with a hangover. A hangover is a sign that you have drank too much, and the effects soon passes.

Withdrawal is a sign that you need more alcohol in order just to function, and the symptoms will get worse and worse as the hour’s pass.

If you are alcohol dependent, then withdrawal may be a devastating experience. Neither you nor anybody with you should underestimate the impact of withdrawal. When you suddenly remove alcohol from your system, then you run several risks, including the possibility of a seizure, as well as becoming unable to negotiate stairs, or use cars, kitchens or bathrooms safely. You are also liable to panic, and eventually will probably be driven to obtain more alcohol ‘at any cost’. Residential alcohol detox in a clinic can be a suitable option at this point, as professionals supervising can react to your symptoms and assist as issues arise.


We help people everyday – Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Other Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal

Apart from the symptoms which we have mentioned and discussed, there are other symptoms that you could expect.


A.) Headache

Headache is a symptom of so many health conditions.

Usually people who are going through alcohol withdrawal do experience some levels of headache with varying levels of severity. Some people can also experience a foggy head as part of their headache. While on alcohol withdrawal, you may also experience headache and dizziness at the same time.


B.) Insomnia

Insomnia may probably be the most challenging symptom of alcohol withdrawal. You will find it difficult to sleep.

Insomnia usually occurs in the early stages and could also last long after the effects of other symptoms have subsided.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms and dizziness caused by insomnia will also affect the person’s health. It is also a threat to the person’s mental health and wellness.

Should you experience insomnia, it is important to seek help from a medical doctor.



If you suffer any of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, the clear advice is that you should not suddenly stop drinking alcohol except under medical supervision. Instead, you must moderate your alcohol intake, then seek help and support immediately to enable you to quit safely and effectively.

While you are on alcohol withdrawal, you should bear in mind and expect any or a combination of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms described and understand that blurred vision after quitting drinking is different from the blurred vision being experienced as the effect of a hangover.


You don’ t have to do this alone – Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Am I An Alcoholic?

If you have asked yourself this question, it is enough to suggest you have a problem with your drinking. Is this the first time you have asked yourself the question or has it been nagging you for some time? Try Our The Alcohol Demotivator Tool

If the question won’t go away, what does that tell you? 

In the simplest sense, being an alcoholic means you have a dysfunctional relationship with alcohol. You know you drink more than is good for you. You know that alcohol is liable to cause you trouble and waste your time.

You know you often drink when there’s no reason to. Your drinking makes you uncomfortable so sometimes you stop for a while, just to make sure you don’t have a problem. Still, it irritates you when family or friends comment on your drinking.

Most folks don’t bother to check whether they have a problem with alcohol, probably because they don’t. They drink alcohol when there’s a good reason, and keep away from the stuff otherwise.

They rarely drink alone.

They stop when they’ve had enough because feeling ill has taught them a lesson about the effects of alcohol. Or they drink more than usual and get drunk as a result. Next day, they put up with the hangover – they don’t pour themselves ‘a hair of the dog’.

Why not just give it up?

Alternatively, why not take a drink and stop worrying about it. If you can’t do either of these things, then you may well be an alcoholic.

That’s who alcoholics really are: people whose drinking causes them real worry, but they still believe that alcohol is their friend.

It’s not your fault: lots of people drink, but some of us pay a terrible price for doing so, if only we could admit it.

You don’t need to be falling down drunk every day, or living on the streets to be an alcoholic. Or will it have to get that bad before you admit you have a problem? Remember alcoholism knows no bounds, socially, financially or demographically.

Alcohol does not discriminate by class, race, or gender.

If you are an alcoholic – or you worry that you are – then there are two sobering (no pun intended) facts you have to know. Firstly, your drinking is bound to get worse and worse until you stop for good. If not halted, it will consume all. Secondly, you probably won’t be able to quit drinking for good without help no matter how determined you are. Or who you are.

You can get help now and no need to keep worrying? 

Contact us now for advice about your own situation. Remember, if you think you are an alcoholic, you probably are. Why else would you think it?

Alcoholic Who Missed Treatment Jailed For Four Months

An alcoholic who missed an alcohol treatment appointment ordered by a court in Plymouth has been jailed for not attending an appointment because he was in the pub.

The 54 year old man, who was initially spared a twelve-month jailed sentence on the condition he attended an Alcohol Treatment Programme for six months,  was ordered to appear before magistrates after missing or being late for four appointments at the treatment centre.

The court in Plymouth heard that on one occasion he did not turn up because: “he was on the way to the pub”.

The prosecutor added: “The view of the service is that he fails to take responsibility for his offence and there is no evidence he is reducing his drinking.”

As well as four months in custody, the man was also banned from driving for five years.

Wales Urged To Accept That Alcohol Is Everyone’s Problem

A new report into the state of alcohol abuse in Wales has asked for people to realise that alcohol is everyone’s problem and not to distance themselves from this ever-increasing issue.

The report suggests that the stigma surrounding alcohol consumption means that too many people are still not honest about the problem and its role and impact on in society.

The report, called ‘Everyone’s Problem’, has been published by Alcohol Concern Cymru and specifically asks Welsh ministers to pour more cash into alcohol treatment services.

The Welsh Government said it has requested more powers from the UK government to tackle alcohol problems, including licensing as well as minimum pricing.

“We would like to see a minimum price per unit of alcohol introduced in Wales but the power to do this currently lies with the UK government,” said the spokesperson.

“We have also requested power to legislate on alcohol licensing but this was rejected by the UK government.

“At a time when the UK government is cutting many budgets, the Welsh Government has demonstrated its commitment to substance misuse services by protecting levels of investment.”

Andrew Misell, manager of Alcohol Concern Cymru, said: “We need to be honest with ourselves, and recognise that whilst alcohol is a familiar part of most of our social lives, it is also a toxic and addictive substance.”

“This is not to excuse individual drinkers from personal responsibility, but we have to recognise that a society that uses alcohol will face a certain level of alcohol-related problems, and these must be dealt with appropriately and sympathetically.”

Denial And Addiction

The term denial is often used and associated with alcohol, substance and behavioural addictions.

The reason it is used when referring to individual’s addiction is that addicts use it consciously and unconsciously in order to protect themselves from the reality of their addiction and its consequences.

Sigmund Freud first touted the concept of denial in a recognised psychological way and explained it as an “a defence mechanism by which a person’s own mind would subconsciously hide the facts of reality from them as a way to perhaps protect their ego, or avoid necessary but painful realizations and/or life changes”.

Denial is a way of lying to one’s self in order to protect us from reality. Addicts often use it as a means to continue drinking or using to shield themselves from the outcomes of their substance abuse. All too often alcoholics and drug users blame everyone else for their addiction or deny the very existence of it, as it is extremely hard to come to terms with the fact they are addicts.

Sigmund Freud said that denial is actively used when “a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”

In a way, it’s as if a person in denial is lying to themselves, but according to the concept, when we are in denial we’re pathologically rejecting reality.  That is to say, a person who is in denial isn’t consciously lying because they don’t even know the truth as their own mind has hidden it from them.

The ability to deny allows addicts to continue their behaviour and somehow justify it in their own brain that they are ‘okay’ and can control their addict, despite massive and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Breaking denial is one of the hardest mental obstacles to do, hence why addiction is such a difficult thing to overcome.

Often, denial in addicts can often be broken down during intervention where friends and family’s persuasive words and actions can cause full realisation in the addict and reduce or eliminate denial all together.

The twelve-step program used firstly by Alcoholics Anonymous  – and now adopted by other recovery groups associated with addictive and compulsive behaviour – uses a system where addicts need to address their denial and the program is designed in order to do this.

Indeed, the very first step in the programme which is: 

“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable” focuses on the addict eliminating denial and accepting their addiction.

Acceptance and therefore the lifting of denial that the person has an addiction is necessary in order for treatment of the addictive behaviour and recovery.

Denial gets stronger the longer the addiction and the greater the likelihood that residential rehab is needed for the individual to come to terms with their addiction and then start the process of recovery.

Often, many people are still in denial EVEN WHEN THEY ENTER REHAB because they have done so in order to allay family or friends fears. Any good rehab will recognise this, treat accordingly and the client will accept their addiction during their time in rehab.

Leading Addictions Expert Slams Russian Gay Rehab

A leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation expert has expressed his dismay and shock and questioned the professionalism of some of the world’s most famous rehabs in treating ‘addictions’ and changing people’s behaviour in light of the recent story about a dad putting his son in to rehab to stop him being gay.

Mr McLean’s comments come after the breaking story of a 16-year-old boy from Moscow who has been medicated against his will at a drug rehab clinic – for being gay.

Addictions expert John McLean, head of Abbeycare Foundation, a rehab based in Scotland, said: “I feel sorry for this boy and outraged that this rehab has even considered yet attempted to treat this boy for a so-called ‘addiction’. The gay community – as well as many other right-minded people – are outraged by this and I condemn the father’s behaviour too. Being gay is not an addiction and to try and treat it as if is in an addiction using drugs and therapy is nothing short of lunacy and barbaric.”

The incident happened when the boy told his friends and family that he was gay. The boy’s father reacted furiously and sent him to the clinic where he hoped it would change his son’s mind – or least force him into changing his mind.

The story has caused wide outrage in the Russia with human rights activists campaigning outside the clinic.

Mr McLean is a leading interventionalist, therapist and addictions expert and has been working in the field for over 25 years, treating people at his addictions clinic in Ayrshire as well as travelling the world training other rehabs in alcohol and drug treatment.

“Psycho-social interventions only work to changed either learned-behaviour or addictive illnesses as they are cognitive in terms of compulsive and obsessive behaviour. You sexual orientation is not a compulsion, addiction or something that can be treated. I’m disgusted by the clinic for even taking the boy in never mind giving him medications to treat this. It’s nothing short of an ill-attempt at brain-washing and the rehab should be investigated and disciplined for this. Too many rehabs out there are just fancy hotels and holiday retreats and are simply in it for money. Proper rehabs such as Abbeycare would never even consider this and in fact, would report such behaviour by parents as neglect and abuse should it occur in the UK.

Does Eastenders’ Lauren Branning Need Rehab?

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Eastenders character Lauren Branning has been battling the booze for some time now and things are coming to a head. Her alcoholic behaviour has got her it to tons of bother and, like a lot of teenagers, things will only get worse unless something or someone intervenes.

Jacqueline Jossa 2016 (Lauren_Branning)
Jacqueline Jossa (Lauren Branning Character in Eastenders)

To beat the booze, a rehab has outlined Lauren’s life if she chooses to get help now and how her life can change for the better.

The actress who plays Lauren, Jacqueline Jossa, told the Sun recently:

“I am loving the drinking storyline. It is fun to play around with. You can take what your friends are like drunk and what you are like drunk and then just what you would imagine Lauren is like drunk and add it all together.”

However, the actress knows when to stop drinking in real life unlike her onscreen character.

“You do not drink just for the sake of drinking, whereas with Lauren she needs to have another… and then another and another.” Jacqueline told the Sun.

“I love Lauren, bless her. Sometimes I wish she would just have a lovely day or go for a holiday.

“Lauren is starting to realise she might have a problem, so hopefully when she does, things might change.”

Abbeycare Foundation rehab has simulated what life will be like for the character if she continues on the road she is on, and also what life could be like if she gets help now.

Addictions expert Liam Mehigan, service manager of Abbeycare rehab, said: “It’s a very strong storyline and the fact it is gripping the nation is that it is based in real life. Many parents struggle with teen drinking and many teenagers just don’t know the road they could be going down.

“Naturally, a lot of teenagers drink too much and then as they mature return to a healthy normal relationship with booze.  However, there are tens of thousands of teenagers who are just beginning a life of addiction and heartbreak for themselves and their parents. Ultimately, if nothing is done about it, their lives will become a complete mess, unmanageable and spiral out of control.”

The rehab has created a timeline of what will happen to Laura if she remains drinking and how she can get help to overcome her addiction and get well. Liam said: “The main way to help Laura is to make sure she understands that she is not alone, help is available, and that she can and will get better if she attends to her problem – a problem unattended will always remain a problem. With alcohol, it is a progressive downward spiral problem.”

Although all alcoholics can get better with help, many nosedive before any help is sought.

Here is how Laura’s alcoholism might pan out:

  • Feelings of guilt and remorse increase leading to shame
  • Secret drinking increases
  • Relationship with mother breaks down – blames the mother for all faults whether true or not
  • Relationship with friends breaks down due to impaired thinking, resentments and irrational jealousy
  • Low self-esteem, self confidence and self worth manifest
  • Drink binges length increases to 4 to 5 days
  • Aggressive behaviour leads to more trouble with friends and family and law
  • Tries a geographical escape to Scotland
  • Neglects eating properly
  • School and money worries increase
  • Loses interest in all other activities
  • Tremors, shaking and ‘DTs’ start becoming normal practice
  • Fully avoids family and friends
  • Decrease in tolerance of alcohol, i.e. gets drunk easier
  • All alibis and excuses for drinking are exhausted
  • Completely defeated


Liam said: “Once Laura gets to this point then there are two options really. One is to get help and begin treatment to turn her life around. The other is not hard to imagine: illness, insanity and death are the main outcomes.

“There is another way that’s proven to work. If she gets to rehab and gets the correct treatment, she can beat the demon drink. Change and understanding has to occur. Understand how she thinks, why she thinks it and then get the tools and techniques to not only quit drinking but to change the way she thinks and then feels and acts in order to live a positive, happy and meaningful life.”

And, here’s how Lauren’s life can turn around if she entered rehab:

  • Begins a medical detox to help with withdrawals
  • Therapy begins, starting with one-to-one counselling
  • Learns that alcoholism is an illness and can be treated
  • She learns that she can control her addiction and gets new hope
  • Feels better physically
  • Starts group therapy and meets likeminded people
  • Family and friends notice a change
  • Begins a journey of self-discovery
  • Doesn’t want to run away from The Square
  • Changes way of thinking about addiction and self-esteem returns
  • Continues therapy
  • Natural sleep returns
  • Employment and career opportunities open up
  • Head-in-sand feelings go away
  • Appreciates hope of new way of life
  • Develops new interest and a new circle of friends
  • Group therapy continues
  • Starts to face all life obstacles with courage
  • Steps to economic stability taken
  • Increase in emotional control
  • Ideals reborn and real values installed again
  • Contentment begins and starts to flourish
  • Branning family and friends notice an improved Lauren
  • Interesting, new way of life opens up
  • Higher levels of contentment than ever before
  • Back in Eastenders as one of the more positive characters


Let’s hope that Lauren can get the help she needs and stay in the soap a bit longer!

If you need any information on teenage alcohol problems or would like to speak to someone about your own levels of drinking or find out how we can help a family member detox from alcohol, please contact us at Abbeycare Foundation –  Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

What Is A Home Alcohol Detox Treatment?

Our Home Support Staff are Available 24/7. Call: 01603 513 091


Withdrawing from alcohol is one of the most unpleasant and toughest things an individual can undertake. The physical and mental demands of suddenly stopping drinking alcohol are hellish – as anyone who has experience them will testify – but they are also extremely dangerous.

Stopping Drinking With A Detox at Home

To help stop drinking and manage the unpleasant side effects of removing oneself from alcohol, a medical detoxification (detox) should be undertaken to ensure that the process is safe. Alcohol is the ONLY drug that people can potentially die from when withdrawing (caused by a seizure or fit), so a supervised medical detox is necessary in order to manage the withdrawals and minimise risk.

There are many ways to undertake a detox and they include residential rehab but many people look to receiving alcohol treatment at home detox – where a safe alcohol detox can take place using the services of specialist addictions prescribing nurse in your own home or safe place.

What’s Involved In A Home Alcohol Detox?

An alcohol home detox involves the prescription of a short course of medication, usually over 3 – 10 days which helps to prevent withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking alcohol. People often get shaky, sweaty and tremulous when coming off of alcohol and often have anxiety and panic.

A sedative drug such as chloradiazepoxide (also known as Librium) or diazepam is used to relieve these symptoms.  Getting a detox from alcohol at home is often suitable for those who have commitments including work and children and can’t take the time out to attend rehab. To this end, it’s a good idea to make sure that you have the correct medical attention and having a nurse supervise your detox, is the ideal way of attempting a detox at home.

The process for a good home alcohol detox should be as follows:

  • » A pre-visit telephone assessment to gather any particular special requirements.
  • » Home visitation by a prescribing RMN Addictions specialising Senior Nursing Officer who will carry out a full medical examination which includes:
  • » Blood pressure check
  • » Pulse and respiratory examination
  • » A full physical examination as necessary
  • » Bloods procedure/analysis as necessary
  • » Prescribing of all appropriate sedatives to prevent seizure and reduce withdrawal discomfort
  • » Vitamin, anti-nausea, anti-diarrhoea and gastrointestinal medication prescription as required
  • » Dietary advice and direction
  • » Strictly monitored support throughout the duration
  • » Prescribing of follow-up medication to reduce cravings (Campral) following detox – the duration and prescribing to be assessed on a personal case basis
  • » Recommendation of/an explanation of therapeutic aftercare package to remain abstinent using CBT/person?centred counselling.

Aftercare Maintenance and Abstinence

The last point above is crucial – aftercare has to be put into place. To remain abstinent, therapy should be sought in order to prevent relapse by identifying patterns of thinking and behaving that put you at risk, and by developing new ways of coping with stress and cravings.

Abbeycare Can Book A Detox For You

If you wish to find out more about a detox at home or arrange an appointment to undertake a home detox, please contact us 24/7 on 01603 513 091 or email:

Things Now Adding Up For Margaret After Stay At Abbeycare

Name: Margaret
Occupation: Maths Teacher
Age: 34 years old
Sobriety: 2 Years

Margaret had been drinking alcohol for over 10 years and when her life crumbled around her, she thought all avenues were exhausted but managed to come to Abbeycare for a month-long stay. Margaret lets us know of what happened and how she is now, after treatment with us.

Margaret said: “I committed to change at Abbeycare 2 years ago and, thankfully, the change has taken place.

“Before I reached Abbeycare, I had been to see my doctor on too many occasions to remember. I found him helpful and he had given me a few rounds of prescriptions to detox which never lasted long.  He also pointed me towards the addictions team, whom I found ineffective. Looking back now, they were completely lacking in knowledge – they really had no idea about how to get well from this illness.

“The addictions team seemed to be able to explain the symptoms of the problem, but no solutions, apart from cutting down and keep a diary. I thought, if it was that simple, my life wouldn’t have been falling apart. As a teacher, having an alcohol issue caused me all sorts of problems. The board were supportive for a while but as I never really responded to other treatments, I was getting into serious trouble. Eventually, I was recommended to Abbeycare by a friend whose father had been successfully treated there.

“My experience at Abbeycare was the turning point of my life. I learned so much about my feelings and emotions – particularly the fact I was often misunderstanding my feelings and acting out on the wrong ones.  I also learned numerous methods to control my anxieties, particularly emotional freedom technique (EFT) which is simply amazing.”

“I believe it was my anxieties that accelerated my use, then abuse, of alcohol. At first, alcohol changed my inner feelings of over-self-consciousness and shyness into me being extrovert and confident, but it never lasted. Before I knew it I was abusing alcohol every day, which lead to severe stress and unmanageability in every aspect of my personal and professional life.”

“That’s all in the past now and I now live a wonderful life, I really do. My life is now full of awareness and I now have the ability to live each day unchained from the bottle. My stay at Abbeycare hasn’t just sobered me up – it has transformed my life to one bursting with happiness, positivity and purpose. Going to Abbeycare has been the best decision I have or will ever make.”


Read More Success Stories: 

  1. John Reaping
  2. John M Perth 
  3. Peter’s Sober Christmas 
  4. Memories of Christmas Pasts


Client Testimonial – John M, Perth, Scotland

Get free advice. Call 24/7: 01603 513 091


I think it appropriate to record my thanks for the superb care and attention I experienced during my recent 4 week stay at Abbey Care for Detox & Rehab.

Like so many, I was in denial over my drinking problem and did not consider that I could be an alcoholic, so didn’t need help. This persisted for years until Christmas/New Year 2011/12 when family and friends plucked up the courage to address to me what was a very apparent problem to them.

I then realised how low I had sunk due to my drinking and how little I was enjoying life – in fact, I would have been happy for life to end! I realised too the stress my drinking was causing my wife and family. It was my wife who found Abbeycare on the internet and suggested I at least talked to someone there.

With great trepidation and a feeling of real shame, I phoned and talked to Liam. In minutes, I felt relaxed about my problem as I was opening up to Liam in a way I’d never done with anyone else. Twenty minutes later I was booked in for the 4 week session and I felt a lifting of worry & stress as I realised that I was doing something positive at last.

I arrived at Abbeycare not knowing what to expect but with an open mind.

Within minutes I was relaxing by the log fire as Liam took my details and formally welcomed me. I was seen by your doctor very quickly and began my detox that night. I can’t pretend that the first two days were not difficult but they passed quickly and I was then able to fully take part in the programme.

Throughout my stay the numerous members of your staff were fantastic, many of them recovering addicts and fully understanding of my problem. The professional therapists were educational, probing and inspiring and day by day I felt my ‘old self’ returning.

The set up of just eleven patients at any one time was ideal and many an hour was passed in the evenings in front of the fire talking about our lives, problems and hopes for the future, all in confidence. This was, to me, a very valuable part of my stay with you.

I returned home 8 days ago, a bit on edge about returning from the protected world of Abbeycare to real life but the transition was easy. I returned, literally, a new man. I’d learned to become less stressed, less demanding of life – just to enjoy it. My wife and daughter are delighted too, as my daughter put it ‘to have my real dad back’! I now live by the two mantras banged into me at Abbey – “Take it one day at a time” and “If you don’t take the first dring you can’t get drunk”.

I know now that alcoholism is a disease for which there is no cure, but which can be controlled. I am now 36 days sober and looking forward to hitting the 50 mark – thanks to your organisation. I know that there will be (in fact are) bad days, but I just keep busy through them and they pass. I look forward to visiting you all at your planned summer BBQ and to meeting again the patients who shared my 4 weeks.

All the best for the future, and thanks again.

John M

Read other Success Stories: 

  1. Magaret (Math Teacher)
  2. John Reaping
  3. Peter’s Sober Christmas 
  4. Memories of Christmas Pasts


Want the same results as John? Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Is Alcoholism A Disease?

Drinking becoming a problem? Call 24/7: 01603 513 091


Lots of people think it is, some think it should be but many other people think it isn’t. We think it is a disease. Here’s a few points to add to the topic:

The American Medical Association (AMA) recognises addiction as a primary disease – one which is not caused by any other disorder. The American Psychiatric Association soon followed suit, recognizing the likelihood of relapse and the necessity of holistic treatment for addicts.

American College of Physicians, the US National Institutes for Health and the World Health Organisation classify alcoholism as a disease.

“Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.”
American Society of Addiction Medicine

The American Medical Association declared that alcoholism was an illness in 1956. In 1991, it further endorsed the dual classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.

“It is clear that alcohol dependence is as much a disorder of the brain as any other neurological or psychiatric illness.”
World Health Organisation

What do you think? Email us with your thoughts to:

John McLean 
Abbeycare Foundation


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Sobering thoughts for the season to be merry

Catherine (our deputy service manager) shares her story in the Herald. She describes how chaotic her life was during her struggle with alcohol dependence and how she claimed back her life.

Catherine Park knew it was time to quit drinking when she woke up on Christmas afternoon.To view the full article please click here.

Gascoigne faces a long road to recovery

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The latest claims about Paul Gascoigne are that he was injecting cocaine and drinking 15 cans of beer and two litres of gin a day, before he flew to the US to get help with his addictions.

Image of Paul Gascoigne

The footballer, who won 57 caps for England scoring 10 international goals, is currently in intensive care in the US, before he then goes to a clinic in Arizona to help treat his alcohol addiction.

He was the most talented and loved football player of his generation.  But he is now battling once again with his addictions that threaten to destroy his life.

As John McLean, founder of Abbeycare says:

“Gazza needs careful medical supervision along with ongoing long term therapy.  There are only two drugs that require medical intervention – alcohol and heroin – and he needs professional help now before it is too late.”

There are serious dangers related to alcohol detox.  In heavy drinkers, the body compensates for the depressive effect of alcohol by ramping up production of a number of hormones and brain chemicals, like serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine.

When a person suddenly stops drinking alcohol, the body becomes flooded with abnormally high levels of those chemicals, causing various symptoms including heart palpitations, arithma, peripheral tremors, insomnia and nausea. That is why alcohol withdrawal is so dangerous and must be done correctly under the right type of supervision.

However, once the detox has been done, a patient is still a long way off recovery.  Good rehabs in the UK advocate following the 12 Step model.  Recovery is a process, not a model. At Abbeycare we promote the 12 Step model, encouraging residents to use an ongoing support fellowship and to better understand the philosophy and teachings that are the cornerstones of many millions of recovering people throughout the world.

The concern around many celebrities who book themselves into residential rehab is that they are simply doing it for vanity reasons, and are not committed to the time and effort that it takes to fully recover from alcohol addiction.

Hopefully, Paul Gascoigne and those around him are fully committed to helping him on his road to recovery.

Need Support? Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Abbeycare performs intervention on ITV’s Jeremy Kyle Show

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Abbeycare, a leading provider of specialist residential alcohol treatment and detoxification centres, has been working with ITV and the Jeremy Kyle Show to help save an alcoholic.

The episode, featuring 41 year old alcoholic Steven, was aired on ITV today and aimed to confront alcoholics who were causing a major disruption in the lives of close family and other people around them and offer them support.

In this case, Steven who had been aggressively drinking for years, admitted to drinking 12-14 litres of cider a day.  His relationship with his family had deteriorated over time to a state where his son and partner were on the verge of despair.

John McLean, founder of Abbeycare, performed an intervention on Steve, live on the Jeremy Kyle show and Steve subsequently agreed to enter alcohol rehab and get the help on offer. John has spent many years developing his understanding of addictions and has performed many successful interventions.

In his journey of recovery he studied addiction and recovery at Rutgers University in New York and also worked with native Americans in association with South Dakota University. He has since then been involved with recovery groups for the past 30 years in both the UK and the USA, working with people to help them transform their lives.

The intervention on TV had a positive impact and Steve subsequently spent four weeks at Abbeycare’s private residential alcohol treatment centre in Newmarket.  Abbeycare’s team of specialists worked with Steve, providing him with supervised detox, counseling and therapy, and taught him the skills and motivation needed for overcoming addiction.  He is now 3 months sober.

Following his stay at Abbeycare, Steve highly praised the care he received, saying: “When I came to you it was the very last place on earth I wanted to be but I’m glad I did. Being shown how to become abstinent from alcohol has opened a whole new way of thinking and I am loving it.  I want to thank Abbeycare for their unbelievable work and effort – they are professional and committed people and believed in me the whole time.”

John McLean added: “It is extremely humbling to be able to offer this kind of support to those who need it most.  Steve has started to turn his life around and as part of our ongoing aftercare programme we will continue to work with him to ensure he transforms his life to a place where he is sober and living a healthy and meaningful life.”


Call us if you are concerned about a loved one. Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

IV nutritional detox to help treat addictions at Abbeycare

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Abbeycare welcomes the introduction of Neuronovo’s groundbreaking rapid IV nutritional detox therapy to help treat alcohol and drug addiction.

Nutritional IV therapy, favoured by some celebrities, infuses vitamins and minerals through the body and has been used to help treat fatigue, depression, ADHD, eating disorders and to improve general well being.

Dr Damien Downing, a pioneer of ecological medicine, who will be overseeing the treatment at Abbeycare, explains: “The Neuronovo IV nutritional detox offered at Abbeycare, is a neuro transmitter restoration formula of vitamins, amino acids, minerals and co-factor enzymes, and is delivered into the blood intravenously.

It is a rapid detox from alcohol and drugs done entirely using nutrition, restoring brain function and balance in a healthy and revitalising way.  Once the body’s neuro-receptor functions have been balanced, clients usually report increased mental clarity, acuity and an enhanced sense of calm, which allows them to fully focus and engage with the powerful educational, psychological and social aspects of the rehab treatment programme.”

This nutritional detox is different from the traditional medical detox used by the rest of the UK’s alcohol and drug rehab clinics, where a drug, chemically similar to the one being ‘detoxed’ (such as Librium or Valium), is given to manage the severity of withdrawal symptoms and calm the nervous system.  The IV nutritional detox, as well as being extremely natural and safe, minimises cravings and is a rapid detox.

The nutritional IV therapy is popular with treating addictions in the US and is a powerful and effective detox, especially when accompanied by rehab.  The success rate of rehab almost doubles when nutrition is introduced [1].  Neuronovo can also be taken orally as a daily supplement to help maintain sobriety after an initial detox treatment or simply as a way of aiding in relapse prevention.  The treatment is not a substitute for recovery but a very effective start to the healing process.  Once the brain and body are functioning better, the patient has clarity and focus to engage in the educational rehab recovery process.

John McLean, Abbeycare’s founder says:  “In the context of addiction, especially drug and alcohol addiction, an individual often has severe imbalances in their biochemistry, particularly in neurotransmitter levels.  By supplementing the body with essential nutrients and co-factors, we can often reestablish proper levels of circulating neurotransmitters, thus minimising the side effects of withdrawal.

This new groundbreaking therapy from Neuronovo is very effective but works best as an adjunct to rehab. At Abbeycare, our intensive treatment programme includes supervised detox, counselling and therapy, where clients work with our fully-qualified psychotherapists and addiction CBT therapists to realise long term recovery and all the benefits that their new level of consciousness and awareness brings to them, their friends and families.”

Abbeycare is the only residential provider of the award winning [2] Neuronovo IV nutritional detox.  The groundbreaking natural treatment, in combination with Abbeycare’s CBT based rehab treatment, will be available as of March 2014.

[1] 3rd International Conference on Chemical Contamination and Human Detoxification, Hunter College, NY, September 2005

[2] In 2008, Dr. William Hitt received a lifetime achievement award from CAADE, the California Association for Alcohol and Drug educators, for the efficacy and science behind the all natural NTR (™) system for detoxification.

You May Also Be Interested in Reading: 


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NICE recommend drug to help cut drink dependance

The announcement today by NICE guidelines regarding the use of Nalmefene in mild to moderate alcohol dependence cements the place of opiate antagonists, of which naltrexone is another example, in the challenging treatment of addictions. Nalmefene and naltrexone act in very similar ways, blocking naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain, attenuating the reward systems associated with consumption of alcohol and blocking the effects of opiates such as heroin, morphine and methadone. When taken as prescribed, opiate antagonists, licensed only in tablet form in the UK, are effective in a significant group of these patients.

As Dr Vince Gradillas, Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of The Naltrexone Clinic explains, “Addictions, however, are complex disorders, often accompanied by mental ill health, social, vocational or other problems caused by or predisposing to misuse of substances that also need addressing. Furthermore, opiate antagonists only block and do not actively provide addicts with any form of immediate reward or resolution to their distress. Voluntarily taking a tablet, therefore, which does not achieve a reward or reduce psychological pain is often a poor option even for motivated addicts, which partly explains the rather low compliance and relapse rates with this form of treatment, and hence use, of already licensed naltrexone, despite opiate antagonists being available to clinicians and patients for 40 years. Often, particularly for opiate addiction, the process of detoxing itself can prove too difficult a step for many.”

Abbeycare and The Naltrexone Clinic are collaborating to provide services that help overcome some of these difficulties. Abbeycare specialises in rapid opiate detoxes, a five day treatment that increases opiate detox completion rates, and provides motivational and 12-step therapies that continue to play a key role in the treatment of  problems associated with addictions.  The Naltrexone Clinic, located in London, Birmingham and Newmarket, helps to overcome opiate and alcohol addiction with medical treatments.

Abbeycare opens first female-only rehab in the UK

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Abbeycare has now opened a new women’s only private residential rehab in Ayrshire, Scotland, called Resonate Recovery.

Resonate Recovery is the first of it’s kind in the UK and will offer a detox and rehab programme specifically for women. Similar to Abbeycare, Resonate Recovery integrates 12-step philosophy with innovative cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, as part of a comprehensive 28 day programme however that is specially designed for women.

Traditionally, women have drunk less than men, but in recent decades the gap has narrowed in relation to how much each sex typically drinks. With this closing in the gap of alcohol consumption between the sexes, there are a number of resulting health implications for women.

As Manager Catherine Aird explains:

“Providing female-only detoxification, therapeutic support, and continuing care, we help women achieve the strongest possible start to their recovery from addiction. There are many co-occurring issues women often face in addiction. The highly sensitive issues underlying addiction become easier to work through in the increased safety of a single-gender environment.”

She continues, “For some women who come from an abusive relationship or an environment where male attention is affecting their confidence, a female only environment like Resonate will help them feel safe, ready to recover and deal with their emotions.”

Further information can be found at

In the Press:
First for the UK as women-only rehabilitation centre is opened





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Psilocybin .v. What’s Required

Maybe you’ve seen recent press on the psychedelic substance Psilocybin as the next line of addiction treatment.

Whilst these substances and new approaches will always have their place, perhaps what’s most troubling about these approaches, is not the substance itself but rather the mentality or beliefs they can cultivate.

Most modern rehab clinics, including us, are proud to say that we’re 12 step, fully abstinence based services. We stand for the long term emotional work on the self, and mutual aid supports approach, to long term recovery.

Behind these meetings, and therapeutic work, and mutual support, lies the genuine ongoing desire to reconcile ourselves with our personal history, with our previous wrongs during addiction, and to guard against these recurring in future. We recognise these as part of the base cause of our addictive patterns, and aim for sobriety on that basis.

Without sounding too controversial, dabbling with any chemical or substance approach that seems to offer a way out emotionally – a way to continue any level of denial whatsoever – a way to avoid or get round personal responsibility that we have trained ourselves to acknowledge and work through – surely can’t be strengthening our recovery beliefs or attitudes in the long term – no matter how beneficial at other levels.

Again, some will find that these approaches work well, and complement their own personal style in recovery – which we encourage.

Nevertheless, in our experience, long term sobriety involves more than this – is the ongoing mutual support, and self-work of traditional abstinence based programs hard work? Maybe.

But does it deliver a greater sense of knowing the self, the reasons why, and long term satisfaction of resolving the issues at the core? Definitely.

5 Reasons Rehab Cannot Help You

1) It’s Too Far Away

Compared to what? Your long term sobriety? Sorry to be so challenging.

But if it’s your recovery from addiction .v. convenience here, then we need to focus on the long term value you’re going to get from the rehab process, not just if it’s next door.

This means asking intelligent questions, regardless of location, like: 

  • What’s the total occupancy in the clinic?
  • Will, that provide enough personal attention?
  • How many will I be in therapy with?
  • Is the detox specific to my needs?
  • What’s the aftercare planning?


The answers to these questions can determine long term success. Finding the right clinic with the right combination of care for you personally is critical.   Please don’t sacrifice your sobriety, and future quality of life, for the sake of an extra 30 minutes drive.

2) Help Is Not Available

Help IS available. No matter how damaged you feel, how dysfunctional your situation, how much substance you need to function… the help to understand addiction, how it functions, and how to overcome it – IS available.

The support you need, whether family or therapists, friends, others in recovery, meetings, etc, is there for the taking.

You are not unhelpable, and you deserve just as much support as anyone else in life. A substantial rehab program will provide aftercare supports like these, personalised to your needs. Don’t accept less.

3) I’ve Tried It, It Doesn’t Work

Relapsing is not uncommon.

In fact, those who have relapsed for 1 of 1000 reasons are far more likely to succeed – they know the triggers, their rewards, their patterns, their reasons, much more deeply than others, and are often much more vocal about what problems to focus on therapeutically, next time around.

Long term rehabilitation takes practice. It’s a team sport. We’re changing into a complete recovery mindset.

And that takes time, and support.  The fact that a particular trigger, situation, or emotional association wasn’t fully resolved last time doesn’t mean the whole process is broken.

Resolving to understand deeper, even better this time around can be the pathway to long term recovery success.

4) It’s Too Expensive

Private treatment inevitably has costs attached. but the benefits to your health and long term recovery, are multiple.

How good will you feel in 3 months time, knowing you took the action you needed to….took the responsibility, got your life back on track?

In 6 months time? In 5 years?   And, there is no substitute for fast admission, fully supervised detox, and comprehensive therapeutic help from specialists in addiction.

In a private clinic, you have access to the specialist help you need. Personal therapeutic attention from support workers. Aftercare planning custom to you.

These options can’t be replicated externally, but do come with a price tag.   Have you asked about shared rooms? Reduced stay duration? Finance options?   Multiple options are available, and most clinics will work flexibly to arrive at a solution that works for you personally. If they won’t… we will.

5) I Don’t Deserve To Be Helped

Really? How do you know? What events led you to that conclusion? Are they the *only* truth about what happened?   …Or just one version of events?

What happened the last time you *were* deserving?   Could there be any upsides to holding on to this addiction? Be honest.

You deserve the help just as much as me or anyone else on the planet. Let’s get started.

7 Warning Signs Your Loved One Needs Help

1) There Physically, But Not Spiritually

They’ve lost their “presence”, their consciousness, ability to engage with you, or will to participate in even the most basic conversations.

When the addiction and chaos begin to spiral, they’ve lost a part of themselves to it, and are silently begging for help.

2) Eyes Hollow, Desperate
The look in their eyes may have changed. They may avoid your gaze due to shame or embarrassment.

They may be anxious to the point of compulsive or irrational behaviour – all secondary to withdrawal and cravings. They need help.

3) Charges/Drink-Driving/Trouble With Police
Sometimes it takes multiple, repeated legal issues or crises before they decide to take action, but they’ve needed help a long time before this.

4) Evicted From Accommodation
Maybe a flat-mate or landlord has had enough, and decided to impose the boundaries.

Possibly a one-off crisis, or even a slow progression from routine favours to petty theft to feed the addiction.

These are all symptomatic of someone who has run out of alternative ways to cope, who is now run by the addictive pattern.

5) Partner Exiting Relationship
Very common, this one. Has their partner suddenly broken things off, usually in exasperation or desperation?

How many otherwise strong relationships perish, due to the grip of addiction? How many families are split, and children affected?

It usually means facing the underlying emotional issues, and working through them with help, to resolve the pattern at the core.

Sometimes, all your loved one needs to understand, is that help IS possible.

6) Co-Dependence
The normal pattern is for family members to unconsciously enable the addiction initially, without fully realising it, in an attempt to ease whatever emotional pain is in the person’s life.

Later, when already overwhelmingly co-dependent for finances and resources to fuel the addiction, the extent of the problem becomes clear, but it’s too painful to set limits and say No.

Yet this is the best possible solution. Redraw the boundaries and insist they get help. It will ultimately determine their recovery.

And, sometimes, the addicted individual just doesn’t have the presence of mind to do it alone.

7) Extreme Behaviours
When the spiral of addiction quickens, your loved one’s behaviour, attitudes, and language will all change. Increased anxiety and aggression are usual, as they try to ensure access to their coping mechanism. It’s important here to make the distinction between the person themselves, and their behaviour.

Their behaviour, under the influence of psychological, chemical, and physical addiction, is not them. It’s not who they are. They have not changed as a person.

The person you know and love is still there, underneath the attempts to cope. But they do need help.

How Rehab Works

Rehabilitation from alcohol/drug misuse in a private clinic is typically a 3 stage process, with the long term aim of abstinence-based recovery.

Here’s how it works…

There are normally 3 stages within most full service rehabilitation clinics:

1. Detox

2. Therapy

3. Aftercare

1. Detox

Detoxification is the process of the body breaking down the remaining alcohol or drugs in the system, under a custom prescription medication, to relieve withdrawal and cravings.

Detox normally begins quickly, sometimes just hours after admission and the service doctor’s assessment.

Depending on specifics, the detox normally lasts 5-10 days.

As soon as comfortably possible, you’ll be encouraged to participate in the therapeutic program of recovery in the clinic.

Whilst this typically includes activities like the sports and leisure program, alternative therapies etc, the core therapeutic program normally consists of 12 steps and/or CBT work.

2. Therapy

The therapeutic pillars of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and 12 step recovery work, and one-to-one keywork sessions should form the basis of your psychological addiction recovery, and the motivator for change.   The goal here is to address:

(i) emotional and environmental triggers of the addictive patterns,

(ii) deeper drivers behind the addiction such as self-esteem beliefs,

(iii) the overall mindset shift into one of long-term, abstinence-based recovery.

We’re trying to help you integrate here, into an immersive environment, surrounded by others on the same journey, aiming for the same goal.

By taking part in a fully residential environment, we remove the triggers that normally initiate addictive patterns, and provide you with the “emotional breathing space” to make progress on the underlying issues, uninterrupted.

Working with addiction specialist therapists, and one-to-one supports sessions, helps you identify and resolve the reason the addiction is in your life – the purpose it serves.

Once we begin to understand the ‘why’ of the addictive pattern, we can identify triggers and their influence, and regain control of life.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, keywork sessions, and mutual aid meetings usually continue throughout your stay, until discharge from the clinic.

3. Aftercare

Aftercare planning should be individualised planning for all the support you’ll need when reintegrating into life after discharge.

For some, this will be connecting with a personal sponsor, aftercare meetings, and mutual aid supports. For others, there are usually additional options such as paid one-to-one CBT or counselling.

Importantly, the process should be led by your needs at that point – what have you gained from the program? What areas still need support? The more vocal and honest you are, the more the aftercare supports can be personalised to your needs.

During Admission

You can normally be admitted very quickly after enquiring, most reputable clinics can co-ordinate your admission within 24 hours.   Typically the service doctor will carry out an assessment upon arrival, and prescribe the relevant detox for your usage, circumstances, etc.

All this can happen in less than 24 hrs. Is it time for you to begin the journey? How satisfied will you be, in 6 months time, looking back, proud you took the action you needed to take…..having reclaimed your life…

A&E Patients to be Questioned About Drink

People that are admitted to hospital, or that admit themselves to A&E departments in the Lothian area are to be quizzed on their drinking habits in a new bid to tackle drink related long term illnesses. The scheme was piloted in GP’s surgeries to combat the rising number of hospital beds being filled by alcohol related accident patients and those with chronic alcoholic disorders. By addressing the situation early, and expanding the scheme wider, the health board hopes to improve the overall addiction problem in the area. The predicted amount of people referred to the scheme before the new year is 100,000. Of those, only about 20,000 will actually join on, either through dropping out themselves or not being suitable for the project its-self. Those that do dedicate themselves however, and ‘stay the course’ have a noticeably high success rate.

Alcohol And Denial – A Killer Combination

Alan, 52, an accountant from Staffordshire: Denial and alcohol kill people.

Denial is one of the strongest mental barriers to getting well and the fact that people don’t even know they are in denial – deny that they are in denial! – makes it extremely difficult to break down. It is this denial that kills people with alcohol problems.

Thankfully, Alan managed to realise his denial through the programme at Abbeycare but below we can see how strong his denial was just before he arrived. In a conversation – that Alan has helped us recreate and publish to hopefully help other people see their own myopia – Alan tries to justify his drinking by making excuses and blaming anything but himself for his drinking:

Before starting the programme here, Alan said: “Well, my wife has told me to get help for my alcohol problem.

She said she can’t stand my behaviour anymore and it is making the whole family ill.

She is really playing it up. I know I like a good drink and a good night out with my mates, but my drinking has actually been made worse since she started nagging. I started house drinking a couple of years ago to keep her quiet but now she is counting up what I’m drinking, I actually drank less in the pub.

I work hard and deserve a drink at the end of a long day. “She forced me to see the doctor and he said I was drinking alcoholically and I should find a way to get well now. How can he tell that during a 10 minute appointment? How does he know what I have to deal with in my life?

He’d drink as much as me if he were in my shoes. I suppose doctors have to tell everyone they do everything too much. I’ve left the house and I am living in a B&B. I have just lost my job because my boss said I smelled of alcohol in the morning. He said I was intoxicated, and since driving a company vehicle was part of my job, he fired me. He didn’t breathalyse me, so I will see him at the industrial tribunal and besides, I was driving the vehicle on company property anyway, not the public highway.

I didn’t like him anyway, I’m much better out of there. “My wife is now telling me I can only see the children if I am completely 100% sober. My children are under 10 and it will be damaging to them if she keeps this up. I think it’s her sisters and mother who are pushing her to make me stop drinking.

Just because one of their husbands drank himself to death and her father was an alcoholic. They think I need help to stop drinking, but if they just got off my case I know I can do this on my own. I don’t know why she is acting crazy all of a sudden, she knew I drank heavily when she met me, she was the barmaid at my local pub!

It seems like everybody is ganging up on me and all I do is have a few drinks – what’s wrong with that? “I still love my wife and my children, none of us deserves this pain and they are all making it worse. But, I don’t need to go to any rehab, is there any books about cutting down that you can send me?

Anyway, you’ll find this hard to believe, I only drank beer in the pub – now I’m sitting in the B&B drinking vodka because I know when I see my wife she can’t smell it. Her sisters have said they will pay for the treatment but I’m not accepting that, I will never hear the end of it.

I’ve got my pride, I’m no charity case and I don’t really need the help.” Alan lost his wife, children, job and family network. He has the attitude that the whole world is wrong – except him.

  • He blames his wife’s concerns (nagging)
  • He is treating his doctor’s advice lightly
  • He blames his boss for wrongful dismissal
  • He has lost the roof over his head
  • He slates his in-laws for trying to help him
  • He is using the children to state how unfair and unreasonable his loved one is behaving
  • He doesn’t need help, he can do it himself
  • He minimizes the effect his drunken behaviour has on others
  • A book is going to be the answer to this problem

What is going to take get this man to face the reality of his situation?

He has got himself addicted to alcohol and he has to treat this life-threatening illness seriously.

It is sad to say, but when denial sets in there is one almost universal truth before things get better, they have to get worse . . . sometimes a lot worse. They call it hitting rock bottom, the place lots of alcoholics must reach before reaching out for help.

It doesn’t have to be rock bottom; a person can get off the booze bus at this stop. Millions of people have stopped drinking with the right help. Alcohol doesn’t kill people, it’s the denial that does. If you don’t believe you are an alcoholic then you will do nothing about it and keep on drinking. If a person accepts their problem and addresses it properly, their whole life changes for the better.


  1. Alcohol Home Detox
  2. Am I An Alcoholic?
  3. Peter’s Sober Happy Christmas
  4. Magaret (Success Story)
  5. John Reaping (Success Story)


John – The Benefits Of Sobriety After Alcohol Rehab

Name: John
Occupation: Farmer
Age: 59 years old
Sobriety: 3 years

John spent 28 days in Abbeycare and three years later is still sober.

Focused, healthy and happy, John talks about his life then and now. That was three years ago and John has been talking with us about how his attitude to alcohol – and life – is completely different compared to the dark days of his drinking.

Alcohol gave him a false sense of self and John used it as a tool to overcome his shyness and enjoy many a social gathering. But like many other problem drinkers, the very thing that helped give him confidence ultimately alienated him from friends and family and he was no longer welcome as friends and family activities.

John said:

“I had been drinking since I was 16 years old at local pubs and farmers’ dances. I always knew that my drinking was different compared to my brothers and friends. I thought I was always the life and soul of the party, what I didn’t know was that if I took the alcohol away, I was somewhat withdrawn and uncomfortable in company.” “Most social drinkers don’t need alcohol to be outgoing, “social” and interact at social occasions, I did.”

For 40 years, John drunk almost daily and can only remember certain details of the last 10 years before he stopped. And, most of those memories are generally not pleasant.

“For a long period, I was a problem drinker. By problem drinking, I mean that I was bringing problems into my life like losing my driving license (not useful to a farmer when you are 3 miles from the nearest bus stop, or you can’t take a tractor onto a public road between your fields). I’d also wake up in various places not knowing how I got there.”

John’s drinking naturally got worse after the loss of his wife Anne and sent him on a dreadful downward spiral and he neglected every walk of his life:

“My real drop into alcoholism came after the death of my wife and the only way I knew how to deal with things was to drink to forget. My farm was going downhill fast and farming is early to bed, early to rise to make it work.

“I had been hearing but not listening to my brothers and other loved ones for years as they observed my demise. I was always going to stop tomorrow, next week, after my nephew’s wedding or after the next holiday.”

Being involved in a serious farming accident – which John now admits to operating whilst intoxicated – never got in the way of getting a drink but made him take the decision to seek help.

John recalls:

“The time came to really address my problem when I was involved in an accident on the farm and I was taken to the hospital. I needed a drink so badly that I signed myself out and refused surgery on my arm.

John called Abbeycare and spoke to a staff member and a call back with Abbeycare founder, John McLean, was arranged. John said: “Eventually my brothers arranged an intervention with John McLean of the Abbeycare Foundation and he came to visit me at my farm. At first, I didn’t want to know anything and was rude, resistant and quite obnoxious to him, but slowly he broke down my stupid resistance and I went with him to Abbeycare.

“I had always thought I could fix my problems by myself, but I was down on my knees with this one. All the questions were torturing me, why me? Why is this happening to me?

The main thing that I remember John telling me was that anyone can be a victim, but not everyone can be a survivor.” After being admitted to Abbeycare to undertake a detox and join their highly successful programme of recovery, John sobered up and now lives a life free from alcohol and has the first-class recovery.

He remembers the day he went in:

“I chose to be a survivor and go to the Abbeycare Foundation. Just going in lifted a massive weight off of my shoulders – I had hope for the first time in decades. I listened and learned to make the fundamental changes to my thinking that has taken me to the freedom of sobriety. I always thought sobriety would be a boring, dull and uninteresting life.

I will tell you a boring dull and uninteresting life. That is a life sitting in your house alone with only your bottle for a company and a few dire TV channels and not being asked along family or social events because you can’t control your drinking or your behaviour caused by your drinking.” Life is about choices, but not irresponsible choices.

Take up the reins of your own life and choose a life worth living. It can be done, I’ve done it.”

Read other Success Stories: 

  1. Magaret (Math Teacher)
  2. John M Perth 
  3. Peter’s Sober Christmas 
  4. Memories of Christmas Pasts


Three Quarters UK Alcohol Sales Are Part Of Promotion

Almost three quarters of the booze sold in the UK is bought as part of a sales or promotional deal according to new research. The new figures state that 71 percent of alcohol bought in the UK is at a discount price.

Although not necessarily a surprising statistic itself, as we see sales promotions all around us, the figures do become alarming when compared to our neighbours in France at 22% and Germany at only 19% of total alcohol sales at discount prices. The research also found that alcohol was on sale and at discount more than any other grocery category. One anti-alcohol lobbyist said:

“With many people purchasing alcohol that they didn’t want nor need when shopping it’s no wonder that our jails and accident and emergency wards are bursting at the seems because of alcohol.”

While many anti-alcohol campaigners have been outraged by these latest figures on UK alcohol availability, many others have cited that you can’t sell anything without a willing buyer and that the research is tainted because the low or non-existent tax on alcohol abroad means it is not a like-for-like comparison.

One blogger, Hamish, on the Telegraph website said: “This is an unfair comparison as the price of alcohol in most of Europe is much, much less than in the UK. It is because of the huge amount of tax on alcohol in the UK that it is so expensive and therefore discounted in order to generate sales.”

Want To Stop Drinking Alcohol? Tell someone, Tell Us.

If you want to stop drinking alcohol but find you can’t – however hard you try – then you shouldn’t feel bad. It’s an addiction – does anyone want or desire to be addicted? So, how it happened is really not important. What you do next is all that matters. And, the first thing to do is ask for help. However determined you are to stop drinking, your determination will not be enough. If will-power alone could solve the problem, then nobody would stay trapped in drink.

The first – and often hardest – step in rehab is to admit you need help. Tell somebody that you have a problem. Tell your family or a good friend. Tell your GP. Call Alcoholics Anonymous. Call us or email us at Abbeycare.

You will feel like there’s been a weight lifted of off your shoulders. Don’t let pride stop you getting your life back. Don’t say you’ll get help with your drinking after you have sorted out your other problems. As soon as you admit you are losing control of your drinking, then you can start to regain your physical and emotional wellbeing. The good news is that there are many, many people who have successfully escaped their relationship with booze.

At Abbeycare, it’s our job, passion and mission. We know how to beat it and can help you do it.

There is no shame in contacting us. You never chose your addiction – alcohol dependence knows no boundaries.

But there is the hope of brighter days ahead. And, it’s not just hope – we can help you live again. Contact us for an informal chat or more information. It’s a first step to breaking free.

Private Alcohol Rehab • What To Beware!

What to beware about private alcohol treatment!

Beware If the service is a housing support service as opposed to an alcohol care home service. A housing support service is what it says, a service to support people who have housing needs and issues like homelessness.Homeless people require advice and support to facilitate their accommodation need.

Beware If you have no housing issues why would you consider a housing support service. Where the staff are not qualified to deliver the many various therapeutic training methods and programme to help those on their pathway to long term recovery from alcohol addiction problems.

Beware Please enquire as to the types of programmes offered and essentially please check out the qualifications of the staff involved.

Beware Make sure you receive a full medical examination on arrival from a medical doctor. If this is not part of the service you or your loved one runs the risk of an alcohol withdrawal grand mall seizure which can result in brain damage, physical complications and even death.

Scots drink more spirits a year than in 1990s

Scots drink four more bottles of spirits a year than in 1990s Source – The Scotsman Scots are drinking an extra 1.2 litres of pure alcohol annually compared with 1994, a report reveals. The 11 per cent increase to 11.9 litres for everyone 16 and over is the equivalent of an extra four bottles of spirits a year.

The study, published by NHS Health Scotland, said the increase was driven by a 53 per cent jump in the amount of alcohol being bought in shops. It also highlighted significantly heavier drinking in Scotland compared to south of the Border, with 21 per cent higher sales and twice the death rate. Spirits such as vodka and whisky account for 29 per cent of the alcohol bought in Scotland in 2009 compared to 19 per cent in the south.

Most of the difference in alcohol sales between Scotland and the south is in shop sales, with vodka accounting for the largest share – 38 per cent – of that difference. Whisky accounted for only 17 per cent of the difference – suggesting tourist purchases account for only a small part of the greater sales in Scotland. The study, published as part of an evaluation of Scotland’s alcohol strategy, contained grim reading along with some positive signs.

Dr Laurence Gruer, director of public health science at NHS Health Scotland, said: “This report confirms that alcohol-related harm in Scotland has increased enormously since the early 1980s. Alcohol-related deaths are three times higher and hospital admissions are four times higher than in the early 1980s. In the most recent years, alcohol-related deaths and hospital admissions have declined. This is encouraging but it is important to look at long-term trends and it’s certainly too early to tell if the recent improvements will continue. Alcohol-related deaths are still at historically high levels and twice as high as in England and Wales.”

The Scottish Government-commissioned report also showed how alcohol was hitting the poorest hardest. In 2009, alcohol-related deaths were more than six times higher in the most deprived fifth of the population than in the most affluent.

Alcohol groups said the report showed the need for minimum pricing, which the SNP has pledged to again try to introduce if re-elected in May. Tom Roberts, project director for Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems, said: “With much of this alcohol available at well under 30p per unit, we must take action on price.

Minimum unit pricing is the most effective mechanism we know of to raise the price of cheap alcohol. Next week’s Budget is also an opportunity to begin to reverse the increased affordability which drives consumption.” Jennifer Curran, Alcohol Focus Scotland head of policy, said: “We must face up to the fact alcohol is now more affordable, more available and is more heavily marketed than at any time over the last 30 years. Research evidence shows establishing a minimum unit price for alcohol is one of the most effective ways to increase price and reduce consumption.”

Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “These figures provide yet more evidence alcohol abuse is a major problem in Scotland, although there are welcome signs that consumption is now falling.” The Lib Dems’ Robert Brown said: “The key change that is needed in Scotland is a change in the drinking culture.

Scots record of shame at hospital A&E units

Scotland’s accident and emergency rooms dealt with 36,000 alcohol-related admissions in 2009, government figures have shown. There were 39,278 alcohol- related discharges from Scottish hospitals, with 92 per cent of these coming from A&E departments. Scots are also continuing to out-drink their English and Welsh neighbours, consuming an average of 11.9 litres of alcohol each in 2009. The Alcohol Statistics 2011 report found the alcohol market was worth £3.64 billion in 2009, with off-sales or drinking at home becoming increasingly popular. Scots consumed almost 51 million litres of pure alcohol, the equivalent of 11.9 litres per person over the age of 16. While the amount of alcohol consumed from licensed premises, such as bars and pub,s decreased from 2008, there was an increase in off-sales consumption, rising from just over 32.9 million litres to over 34.4 million litres, with Scottish households spending an average of £6.50 on alcohol to take home each week. The volume of spirits consumed by Scots was double that of their English and Welsh neighbours, with 3.5 litres of sprits per person each year compared to 1.8 litres. More than a third of men and women were exceeding the recommended daily limits for alcohol units on their highest drinking day during the week, while more than 50 per cent said they drank most of their alcohol at home.

5 Questions You MUST Ask Before Choosing A Rehab

Beyond the obvious concerns like cost and location, there are several much more subtle questions about rehab you MUST ask before you can be sure you’re paying for the right treatment:

1) How Many Are In The Clinic Right Now? (…And What’s The Maximum Occupancy?)

Short version: you want a lower occupancy clinic, not a big brand name.

Why? The larger the clinic size, the less personal attention you’re likely to receive. We need to maximise your therapeutic time for best long term results. We need a strong set of aftercare supports planned out for you, in detail. A smaller clinic environment affords you the higher levels of personal attention these require. Don’t compromise.


2) Do I Have A *Personal* Support Worker?

Not every clinic provides one-to-one help. Check this.

Ideally, you’ll have someone assigned to you personally, throughout the whole program from start to finish – helping you during detox, talking through therapy insights, working through the 12 steps, helping coordinate aftercare.

A support worker is someone who should stay with you throughout your stay, someone you can develop a recovery relationship with. Make sure you don’t get passed around from person to person. An accomplished support worker is there to help make the process easier, and more comfortable, from start to finish. Does your clinic provide this?


3) What’s Around The Clinic And Local Area?

Believe it or not, this is important. You don’t want a large rehab with huge occupancy, in the city centre, next door to the off-licence!

Just look for some basic reassurance here – rural, smaller clinics are typically more aligned with the emotional environment you’ll need to be able to focus fully on your recovery and get the best long term outcomes.

Is it in the countryside? How far to the nearest town or city?

It’s quick to ask but offers much reassurance for your stay.


4) Is Aftercare Planning Included?

What level of aftercare planning is included? What are the optional paid extras?

A good clinic will help you coordinate strong supports after graduation, like:
– connection with a personal sponsor
– local aftercare meetings in your area
– integration into a local mutual aid or 12 step meetings

Ask what’s included specifically. Does this come with all packages at the clinic, regardless of duration or cost? It’s good to know up front.

Quick tip – Don’t let anyone convince you to plump for paid aftercare services until *after* you’re through the initial rehab program – how could you know how you’ll feel then? Once you’re fully detoxed and have completed a comprehensive therapy program – things will look quite different.


5) How Long Do I Need To Stay? 

Since residential stays can vary anywhere between 7-28 days+, the key here is to ask about how long you personally need to stay. This will vary, depending on
– your current usage level
– for how long you’ve been using at this level
– pre-existing conditions and medication

…and other specifics. Best here to be as honest and forthright as possible when enquiring.

If finances don’t allow for a longer stay, make sure your chosen duration will allow for an alcohol detox that’s as comfortable as possible.

Every Addiction Is A Solution?…

…True or false?

While scientists tell us we can become addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, compulsive hoarding, food, emotions, sports, etc, etc….here is the key:

Any addiction – whether it’s cigarettes, anger, alcohol, violence, depression, indecision, compulsions, etc – is only ever filling in for something else.

Every addiction is a solution, in *some* way.

It’s a solution to deal with some other problem, whether that’s coping with self-esteem issues, grief, guilt, unresolved trauma, worthiness, acceptance, depression, etc.

Now, remember back to one of these situations, a time when you felt triggered, felt the need to indulge the addiction, and you did go ahead and drink, or use.

In this state, what positive feelings are there now, as a result of indulging the habit, that weren’t there before? e.g. “I’m important”, “I’m lovable”, “I’m acceptable”, “I’m good enough”, “I matter”, “What I say/do/feel matters”, or maybe something more personal to you.

So if this scenario helps you feel (e.g.) good enough again, then it’s pointing us to self-esteem issues about not feeling good enough generally, do you see?

So the substance is the way to achieve these feelings, you don’t otherwise have.

These would be a starting point for therapy sessions, for example.

Now, what situations have told you you’re not good enough?

Is that *really* true about the situation? Or is that just one interpretation out of many possible interpretations?

Seeking professional therapeutic help in a rehab environment for all these underlying beliefs and traumas that these questions point you to, is the way to deal with addiction at the core.

Be sure your clinic is aware of these subtle, yet crucial distinctions.

Are You Enabling Your Loved One Like This?

 – “But he can’t help it”
– “What’s the alternative?”
– “We just don’t know what to do with him(her)”
– “I don’t know how to help him(her)”
– “This can’t go on”

Sound familiar?

Finding yourself repeating any of these, whilst your own life descends into chaos, as you attempt to support a loved one fighting addiction, is all too easy a cycle to get into. The thing is, it’s not your fault.

Loved One + Addiction + Enabling = Quickening Downward Spiral

In the busy-ness of everyday life, without realising the true extent of the problem, it’s extremely easy to make excuses and exceptions when someone’s having a rough time, needs a drink to get through the rough stuff of life, or any number of other excuses.

But when it becomes a habit, too often, it’s become enabling – consciously trying to help, while unconsciously making the cycle of addiction worse.

Maybe the problem wasn’t big enough to notice consciously at first, but now… it’s become too big not to notice.

Your loved one is too deep in the addiction themselves to be able to redraw (or even see) the boundaries, so you need to push the reset button yourself.

It’s not that difficult when you know how.

Resetting Boundaries 

To send the message, that we will no longer be part of the problem of addiction, we need to mix it up:

– Do odd things at normal times & normal things at odd times, e.g. If you used to habitually support (him/her) in some way, with a regular routine, *stop doing it*. And offer to help find the real resources needed to cope with their addiction instead.

– In your acceptance, be irregular, and uncertain. Make the times you do help, increasingly rare. You are sending a message here over time – that you can no longer be relied upon to provide the coping mechanism that used to be there.

– In your refusals, be vague. A simple “I’m unable to do that” when said with authority, will not attract further questioning.

After all, don’t *you* need to get *your* life back too?

Resetting the boundaries and reclaiming your life is not a result of your inflated “me-time” or self-indulgence, but rather a determinant of:

– your ability to continue to help your loved one in future
– your own future emotional health and well being

Any immediate emotional pain of denying a loved one a short term fix will always be overcome by the long term comfort and satisfaction of knowing you helped them address the real issues, at the core.

This is the time they need to take responsibility, stick their hand high in the air, and say “I need help”. You can step in, in a practical sense, to co-ordinate rehab, counselling, detox, aftercare, 12-step sessions, mutual aid groups, etc.

But if you constantly have to be there at every stage, always pushing your loved one along, who is there at the end? Who is there when they leave rehab? When they’re back in the workplace? When they’re in another relationship?

Assisting him(her) temporarily, in practical ways, to help them take responsibility and get back on track, is fine. Helping them perpetuate a coping mechanism that’s steadily killing them, is not.

It’s time.


  1. Am I An Alcoholic?
  2. Alcohol And Denial – A Killer Combination
  3. 7 Warning Signs Your Loved One Needs Help


Peter’s Sober Happy Christmas

Peter's Sober Happy Christmas

Name: Peter
Age: 44
Occupation: Sales/Account Manager
Sobriety: 7 months

Peter, a 44 year old from Glasgow, stopped drinking alcohol seven months ago and had a happy Christmas with his family. Peter tells us how alcohol ruined his life and how he is now happier than ever.

“Deep down, I knew I had a problem for a long time. I always drank more than other people at home and at nights out and always, somehow, managed keep access to alcohol not too far away.

I often travel the country as part of my job and staying away overnight at hotels gave me the opportunity to consume as much as I wanted without anyone monitoring it.

I also had the ‘odd pint’ on my way back from work, telling my wife I had a quick one or two, when in reality I had drunk five or six pints. All family shopping trips involved stocking up on booze – which I suppose it is socially acceptable – but they don’t tell you at the supermarket that it’s the most powerful drug in the world and can easily destroy families and lives.”

“I never fully accepted my drink problem before the wonderful people at Abbeycare helped me get well. I put it down to stress, lifestyle, travelling, family etc. My drink at the end of the day was my way of dealing with ‘my stress’ it but it never did deal with it.

My stress only increased over the weeks, months and years. I now know that to unwind and relax that alcohol isn’t the solution – it’s actually in me – how I deal with stress, how I manage my life, how I choose to live. Yes, of course, booze works for that couple of hours but drinking as much as I did cannot possibly relax me. I was inebriated most evenings. That isn’t relaxing, it’s anaesthetising. Booze makes us no more relaxed than a boxer is relaxing when he’s knocked out on the canvas.

I might have thought I was relaxing as I forgot about my worries when I drank. But all I did was delay dealing with my problems and I now know booze was the only one. It was the source of my hellish life. I now have a truly amazing life and booze has no part whatsoever in it.”

Peter came to Abbeycare after his wife moved out because she couldn’t get through to him that his stubborn ways, barking and constant grumpiness were making her ill too. This then gave Peter freedom to drink himself into oblivion and gave him all the excuses he needed to continue drinking and blaming other people for his predicament.

“I just couldn’t see what alcohol was doing to me and everyone around me. At the time, I was working and travelling constantly and then when I came home to unwind and have a few drinks, I’d get moaned at. Other people telling me I drank too much and I was lazy. Inside me I was furious as I felt I only worked and then had all the family’s problems when I came back. If I didn’t feel under pressure then I felt apathy. It wasn’t a good way to live. The booze ruled me without knowing.

It made me lethargic, sick and irrational and I never slept very well. Worst of all, it made me treat my family very poorly. I was never there for my wife, children or friends. No wonder everyone had had enough and left me to it. I can see that now with the clarity I have. Booze isolated me into my dining room or hotel room but more dangerously into a dark self.”

Peter learned in Abbeycare that it’s okay to get help for an alcohol problem and there’s no shame in getting well and beating the booze. Shame – like all other feelings is inside of us – and, therefore, is only real to us. And, at Abbeycare that’s what they do best – changing people’s feelings about themselves.

He also had sleep therapy, stress management, personal awareness and holistic therapies as well as his own double bedroom and ensuite – all part of Abbeycare’s treatment to beat booze and live a happy life.

Peter said: “I could not have imagined how this would turn out, I just wish I had done it earlier.

I was terrified to the point of insanity at the thought of stopping drinking, but all of that fear has gone. I am now the most relaxed I have ever been. In fact, I’m no doubt more relaxed than most people who don’t drink. I don’t have problems now – only small things I need to iron out.

I have overcome alcohol, I can easily deal with anything else life can throw at me – I just had to learn how. Only the other day, my wife commented on how happy she is now compared to when I was drinking. That makes me feel so proud. Who needs booze when you’re this happy?”

For information on how to overcome alcohol, how to help a relative with alcohol problems or simply find out more about Abbeycare, please call us on 01603 513 091, complete the form opposite or email:

Read other Success Stories: 

  1. Magaret (Math Teacher)
  2. John Reaping
  3. Memories of Christmas Pasts
  4. John M Perth 


Naltrexone Treatment To Help Beat Alcohol Addiction

Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Following recent news from the Irish Times, Irish people suffering from alcoholism are travelling to the UK to be fitted with pellets which block the euphoric effects of alcohol.

Naltrexone pellets are fitted into the lower abdomen, lasting 12 weeks.

These block the “high” individuals experience from alcohol intake, thus discouraging continued use.Importantly, individuals must undergo a full alcohol detoxification, before such implants can be fitted.

Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to provide both the required detox, and the Naltrexone implant, in the same clinic.

First Step Of The Journey

Naturally, Naltrexone should be viewed as the first step toward long term addiction recovery, rather than a solution in and of itself. Abbeycare always advocate the importance of multiple aftercare supports for the best long term recovery outcomes.

Nevertheless, interventions like Naltrexone can provide the much needed emotional breathing space individuals need, as part of a full aftercare plan.

For more info on detoxification, Naltrexone, and aftercare, or to complete detox and Naltrexone in the same UK clinic, contact us at Abbeycare direct Call 24/7: 01603 513 091

Naltrexone For Recovery From Opiate Misuse

Naltrexone is a ‘blocker’ solution for heroin or opiate users who need the extra support during recovery, of an antagonist drug.

This acts as a deterrent, such that, if an individual using Naltrexone relapses into opiate use, they do not experience any of the ‘highs’ or feelings of euphoria normally associated with such drugs.

Instead, they experience no feelings at all, and hence will lose the positive association paired with opiate use over time, thus discouraging relapse, and helping maintain positive recovery.

Antagonist drugs such as Naltrexone operate by occupying and blocking opiate receptor sites in the brain, meaning that any new opiates in the system cannot populate these sites and trigger the associated chemical pathways and associated feelings.

Naturally, chemical solutions such as Naltrexone aren’t intended as a solution to the cause of the addiction, merely a deterrent to further use, and encouragement on the bigger journey of recovery.

Naltrexone is normally available in both oral tablet and implant form. The Naltrexone implant itself is normally fitted in the lower abdomen, under local anaesthetic, and lasts for a period of 12 weeks. Longer durations are sometimes obtainable dependent on current regulations and availability.

However, prior to Naltrexone use, the individual must undergo a full supervised detox from opiate use t avoid any abreactions and ensure safe and comfortable use of Naltrexone.

Currently, Abbeycare are the only UK clinic to offer both opiate detoxification and Naltrexone under one roof, in the same residential clinic.

To enquire about Naltrexone or opiate detox, or arrange admission, call Abbeycare direct on 01603 513 091.

(Lost) Memories Of Christmases Past

Pre-sobriety I always looked upon the ‘Festive Season’ as a period of acceptable drinking excess as everybody, well not everybody, over-indulged.

Many Christmases were ruined due to my drinking with some amusing and not so amusing antics.

I always started the day with the best intentions, as most of us alcoholics do, but inevitably by around lunchtime I was either merrily drunk or at best rather tipsy, but I always insisted that I was capable of serving up the Christmas dinner, often with disastrous results.

The most embarrassing incident was where I took the turkey out of the oven, which had been pre-carved and then re-heated in its gravy, and I proceeded to drop the lot onto the kitchen floor.

Undeterred I simply scooped the whole lot back up on to the serving dish and took it through to the dining room where the assembled family were waiting patiently and merely said that the ‘bird had flown the coop but now it had been recaptured!!’

I was always aware that I would be under extreme scrutiny by my family but no matter what I resolved the drink would, as ever, totally consume my thoughts and as we say, “all bets are off!!”

I would always try and laugh it off, but I became aware that the family were becoming more and more worried and annoyed at my behaviour, and friends would stop inviting us round for social events or gatherings.

The festive season was now a time of dread for my family and I suppose I eventually lost all interest in it as it had just become another day in my chaotic, alcoholic life, and I can’t really remember the last few Christmases when I was in full-blown alcoholism.

I left my rehabilitation treatment centre, Abbeycare Scotland based at Murdostoun Castle, on Christmas Eve 2015 and to say that I was fearful would be an understatement, but armed with the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’, I decided very quickly that the only way forward was to tackle it head on and that is indeed what I did.

December 2015 was the first sober Christmas I had had in a long time, and it was probably one of the better ones.

The family were kind of walking on ‘egg-shells’ for the first few days, but at least they saw their dad sober for the first time in many years, and if nothing else they had a Christmas dinner that had not ‘visited the kitchen floor’ before being served at the table!!

man-person-snow-winter-girl-white-933333-pxhere.comThe experience of that Christmas was to stand me in good stead for the remainder of that festive season and the following year (2016) held no fears or trepidation whatsoever.

In hindsight I think that it was indeed a blessing that I was allowed home at the time I was, and the fact that I survived and coped, helped me to continue thereafter, and up to today I have remained sober and my resolve is probably even greater now to keep and enjoy my sobriety, as in the two years since I have found and totally enjoyed my new life.

When I heard people talking and sharing at recovery meetings about how good life was I just couldn’t imagine how on earth I was going to manage without my ‘best friend alcohol’, but in truth I know that it was NEVER EVER a friend, let alone a ‘best friend’, and I am continuing to absolutely enjoy my life.

Family and friends rallied around when I most needed them and I also gained a whole new army of friends in the various mutual aid groups I am involved with, and they are indeed FRIENDS, like-minded people, who understand the daily rigours of sobriety that give us all a totally new and fruitful way of living.

Now, Christmas time is not a fearful prospect but one which I embrace with great joy and anticipation and I even look forward to preparing and cooking all sorts of meals, knowing full well that they will manage to get from the cooker to the dining table without making a detour via the kitchen floor!!

The family also know that I won’t ‘make an idiot of myself’ at any function or party and indeed I am quite happy now to offer to drive anyone to any place at any time of day in the full knowledge that I have nothing to fear with regards to drink driving, and that alone is quite a change.

Sobriety has given me a fantastic new way of life and I will do everything in my power to maintain it, but I am only too aware that it is only ONE DAY AT A TIME.

If I continue to use the ‘recovery tools in my toolbox’ that the staff gave to me on the steps of Murdostoun Castle on the 24th December 2015, I know I am in with more than a chance of success.

Read other Success Stories: 

  1. Magaret (Math Teacher)
  2. John Reaping
  3. Peter’s Sober Christmas 
  4. John M Perth 


How To Help A Loved One In Addiction & Denial

Our Support Staff are Available 24/7. Call: 01603 513 091


Seeing a loved one’s life spiral wildly out of control can be more traumatising for family members than the addict themselves…(it’s true).

The secrecy, bizarre behaviours, aggression even – these are the signatures of addiction and massive denial.

But there ARE ways to help someone close to you out of that place of colossal denial and spiralling chaos.

The thing is when faced with the option of relieving emotional pain by:

(i) getting that next fix,


(ii) doing the work required…

…an addicted individual will always choose (i). It’s quick, easy, and it allows me to avoid doing any real work or even acknowledging my problems (= more pain).

They’ve repeated this way of coping so much, that it’s become the ONLY way they know how to cope. They truly don’t believe there is any other way.

To help someone in denial we need to:

(i) Convince them that other options exist, that there ARE other ways to cope,
(ii) Address the real underlying problem,

And of course, deal with the chemical/physical addiction too. No mean feat.


Denial is present because it protects the existence of the coping mechanism – if I admit I have a problem, you will take my substance away. And I can’t cope without it.

So we must provide other coping mechanisms and resources in place of the substance itself, or we’ll always hit this denial.

Since denial exists to protect the existence of the coping mechanism, we need to provide these additional resource *first*, *before* then taking that means to cope away.

We need to provide, or at least convince them of, the resources and support that will help replace the alcohol or drugs, as a means to cope.

They need to understand:

(i) they will have numerous other people helping them through the issues they thought they couldn’t cope with, and,

(ii) they will get help to understand the true emotional triggers and causes of their addiction, and thus help themselves.

The truth is that support IS available to help individuals with their life issues.

Whether your loved one is turning to addiction as a means to cope with self-esteem issues, guilt, trauma, or other emotional upsets, the support to work through it IS available, once responsibility is taken.

Taking Responsibility

As a family member, are you more or less likely to support someone in their need to deal with addiction, if they have taken full ownership, admitted responsibility, and accepted wrongdoing?

And so it is with counsellors, family members, medical professionals, employees, etc etc.

Stuck for support ideas for your loved one?

– Local voluntary counselling organisations or public healthcare counselling
– Mutual aid support meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc
– Drug Rehab & Alcohol Rehab clinic aftercare meetings, and telephone support
– Local 12 step meetings and events
– Working one-to-one with a personal sponsor
– Connecting with others locally in recovery
– Additional one-to-one CBT or other therapy following rehab

Can you see, that when this many supports are in place, the need for the coping mechanism begins to dissolve?

Now, let’s be realistic – there is much time, commitment, effort, and willingness, involved in all of this.

But when your loved one has completed a supervised drug & alcohol detox and these supports are in place, these are the strengths which pre-empt the need for the alcohol or drugs in the first place, because they deal with addiction at the cause. Make sense?


We are her to help. Call: 01603 513 091