Our approach to treating drug addiction
Many people don’t understand how difficult it is to overcome drug addiction, and it can often feel like the addiction will never go away. We have extensive experience treating all types of addictions and offer a completely non-judgemental, confidential and empathetic environment to assist you on your journey to overcoming your addiction.
If you would like to contact us for advice about whether we may be able to help you or someone else suffering from addiction, you can do so in a completely confidential way. You are welcome to call us without providing any personal information – you won’t even need to give us your name or contact number. None of the information you share with us will be shared with anyone else, unless you give us your consent and ask us to share this information.
Seeking help from a drug rehabilitation service in London is the first step in addiction treatment, but often it is also the hardest. Simply reading this already shows that you are making progress towards overcoming your addiction.
If you are worried about someone else’s safety and they seem unwilling to get help, we can give you expert advice on how to go about this. Motivation for change is a crucial factor involved in addiction treatment and if they lack motivation, then we can help you to stage an intervention. We may even be able to help you to persuade them to receive treatment for their addiction.
How do you treat drug addiction?
We will work with you and will support your preferences, whether you prefer to undergo a detox in a specialised addiction centre or receive addiction counselling (such as CBT for addiction).
While some people find the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous (NA) plan, which is similar to the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) plan, very helpful, it is definitely not for everyone. If you’ve tried this and it didn’t work for you, please don’t give up – there are many other options to choose from. In our experience, we find that people either love or hate this approach, as it has a strong religious focus which won’t suit everyone. Another popular plan is the SMART recovery programme, which is made up of four stages, and uses a less religious, more cognitive behavioural approach.
The majority of people with addictions don’t need to have treatment within a hospital or clinic and can remain living at home or with family while receiving treatment. The need for a detox or visiting a treatment centre is usually only required when the addiction symptoms are severe or when there is a strong physical addiction to the substance (such as opioids or benzodiazepine).
Cocaine addiction is extremely frequent and we have helped many patients with this. Usually, there is no need for a hospital detox as there are a number of prescription medications that can help with the withdrawal symptoms.
We work with a large number of addiction clinics and centres, both within the UK and globally. We can refer people to these clinics for addiction treatment or detox. There is a large range of options available, so we can recommend different options based on your preferences, needs and budget.
We can also directly refer individuals with addictions for treatment within a hospital setting. Many of our psychiatrists have admitting rights for Nightingale Hospital in Marylebone, central London, so patients can be referred directly to the hospital from The London Psychiatry Clinic.
We also offer case management, liaison with recovery coaches and drug test facilities. If appropriate and with the consent of the patient, we are able to carry out regular drug screens (urine or hair tests), or provide documentation to demonstrate sobriety upon confirmation of negative tests if official reports are required (to family, court or other third parties).
Finally, we understand the importance of taking a holistic approach when treating addiction, taking into account both biological and psychological factors. We can also incorporate complementary, evidence-based treatment approaches including meditation, mind-body exercises, or lifestyle interventions designed to reduce stress (such as sleep, nutrition and exercise).
What is drug addiction?
An addiction is a biological response to a substance, which involves the dopamine neurotransmitter system. Generally, the quicker the drug becomes ingested in the system the easier it is to become addicted to it. This explains why injecting heroin is so much more addictive than smoking it, because it’s almost immediately absorbed into the bloodstream unlike when it is inhaled.
Many people don’t realise that addictions aren’t limited to substances, and that any experience that either makes us happy or reduces stress can lead to addiction (such as shopping, gambling, sex, food, internet use, phone use or even work!) For addictions that are more closely related to behaviours, please see the behavioural addictions page.
How do you know you have a drug addiction?
There are several signs that may indicate whether you or someone else has started to develop a drug addiction. Some of the warning signs are:
- Recreational or medical use has turned into using the drug much more regularly, using the drug on their own or in secret, or after there is no medical need for using the drug anymore (which is particularly common with opiates and painkillers).
- Unable to stop using the drug even if they want to, and even if it is negatively affecting their relationships, finances, work or school performance.
- Needing to take larger doses or more frequent doses to get the same effect from the drug (developing tolerance).
- Feeling strange, unwell, anxious, panicky or nauseous when the drug begins to wear off (withdrawal symptoms).
- Anxiety, depression, paranoia or mood swings that did not exist prior to drug use, or the symptoms increasing in intensity after drug use. People with drug addictions may be defensive, agitated, irritable, find it hard to focus, feel hopeless or feel alone. Sometimes the person using the drug may not notice a change in their behaviour, but others will comment that their personality has started to change.
- Spending large amounts of time or money to buy the drug even if they can’t afford it, or borrowing and stealing money to pay for it.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or school/work.
- Switching to different social groups or withdrawing from relationships due to issues surrounding their drug use.
- Insomnia or sleeping too much, which could be due to taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms, worrying about obtaining more of the drug, hiding drug use from others or anxiety about drug use.
- Eating problems, either an increase or decrease in appetite that began after you started taking the drug.
- Engaging in risky or dangerous activities when taking the drug that could include physically dangerous stunts, unsafe sexual behaviour, excessive spending, starting fights and arguments, or participating in illegal activities.
How is ADHD related to drug addiction?
About 1 in 4 or 5 people with a drug addiction also have ADHD. We will always screen for ADHD when anyone comes to us for treatment with an addiction, to determine if this may explain the reason for their addiction.
New genetic studies show that people with ADHD have a strong predisposition to cannabis use. Meaning that the same genes that increase the risk for ADHD also increase the risk that someone will use cannabis. One study used a technique called Mendelian randomisation, which essentially demonstrated that it was the underlying genetic risk that was associated with ADHD and cannabis use, rather than the ADHD itself.
Nearly half of the risk associated with being a regular cannabis user is explained by our genetic make-up. Many of the genes are also involved in ADHD, which explains why people with ADHD are more likely to also smoke or vape cannabis.
Does drug addiction go away?
While the way our brain responds to the addictive substance will generally remain stable throughout your life, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms will go away over time. Most people who have achieved a period of sustained abstinence will be able to remain abstinent in the long term. Being able to achieve that initial period of abstinence is, therefore, crucial.
With the right support and professional help from a drug rehabilitation centre in London, people with addictions can develop the resilience to resist relapse and return to living their life to the fullest again. We have helped many people to successfully overcome their addictions.
We have extensive clinical experience in treating addictions and use a range of cutting-edge, evidence-based methods when formulating a treatment plan. We’ll also provide a safe, supportive and confidential environment for you to talk about any of your problems or experiences.
Our ultimate goal is to help you find your inner strength and support you to overcome your addiction. We will work together with you to develop a personalised treatment plan suited to your needs. Many addicts who have overcome their addictions still consider themselves to be abstinent addicts. You may find this interview interesting with world-renowned addiction specialist, Dr Gabor Mate.