Drug Addiction & Abuse
Understanding the signs of drug addiction & the treatment options

Drug addiction or drug dependence, is characterised by compulsive & reward seeking behaviours despite evidence such behaviours have negative consequences. If you or someone you love is struggling, it may feel like there is no way out. It’s likely that drug seeking behaviours have damaged other family relationships, work commitments & financial stability. There is no shame in admitting you have a problem, in fact acceptance is the often the first step into recovery. So whether you’re concerned about illegal drugs such as cocaine, cannabis or heroin, or have developed an unhealthy dependence on prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, we’re here in case you need to speak to someone over the phone.

If you’re worried that you’re losing control of the way you’ve been using a recreational drug such as cannabis or cocaine, you could be developing substance dependence. We recommend seeking help as soon as possible, before your quality of life declines as a result of problem drug use. Taking a higher dose of medication than you’ve been prescribed or continuing to use medication you no longer require are also signs that it may be time to seek professional help for drug dependence.

Please remember that drug use disorder is not a sign of weakness or something to be ashamed of. It’s a serious illness with various causes, from genetics to environment and exposure. The good news is that it can be treated with a positive approach, dedication from you and the guidance of a qualified addiction team. We’ve helped countless people overcome substance use disorder and start living life to the fullest again.

Woman losing control of her drug problem

Drug Addiction & Dependence

If you’ve been experiencing difficulties in your social, personal or work life, preoccupied with substances, you’re likely suffering from an addiction. When you’re addicted to a drug, you use it compulsively despite being aware of the negative impact it’s having on your life. If the problems that drug use is causing you don’t seem to stop you from taking, it’s likely you’re in the throes of addiction. (1)

Often, tolerance and withdrawal are seen alongside addiction, and they are signs of something known as physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when your body adapts to accommodate taking a drug or medication repeatedly over a long period of time. Tolerance is when you need to take more and more of a substance to achieve the same effects. It occurs with drugs such as opiates, benzodiazepines and alcohol.

Physical Dependence

Withdrawal symptoms are drug-specific physical and mental symptoms that occur when you stop taking a substance your body has become dependent on. Physical dependence can happen when you use any drug, including those given on prescription, and isn’t always accompanied by addiction. If you’re affected by any of these issues, Sanctuary Lodge can provide a comfortable place in which you can safely taper off drugs and begin the process of recovery. (2)

Drug Addiction Risk Factors Concept

Drug Addiction Risk Factors

There is a complex mixture of factors that contribute to addiction vulnerability and your propensity to drug abuse. You mustn’t blame yourself for falling victim to the misuse of substances. Beating yourself up is more likely to make your situation worse than help you; fault and blame have no place in treating addiction.

Genetic Factors

We are not destined to take drugs because of genetics or environmental factors, but they could be contributing elements for those who are suffering from addiction.

Studies have shown that genetic factors contribute to as much as 50% of your risk of becoming addicted to drugs. There is no single gene that’s present if you develop an addiction that isn’t present in those who never do. Instead, a complex mix of genes and environmental factors interacts and combines with repeated exposure and positive reinforcement to eventually lead to addiction. (7)

It’s difficult to discern whether having a parent who takes drugs makes people more likely to abuse substances due to genes or conditioning. While you can’t change your genes or life experiences, our highly qualified team can help you to alter your thinking patterns and coping mechanisms to avoid the destructive force caused by drug use. A past that involves drug abuse doesn’t necessarily mean your future has to involve substances.

Environmental Factors

One of the main risk factors for developing an addiction is starting to use drugs at a younger age. Experimentation is a normal part of growing up, but this is not valid for drugs and other harmful substances. If you or a loved one have been using substances, you should seek help before the problem escalates. Spending time with people who promote drug use is also a huge risk factor. While peer pressure can be a problem and a cause for drug use and abuse, a group of people who have been through addiction and are working towards recovery together can be a helpful, safe community.

Being a risk-taker and having an impulsive nature are genetic factors that play out in your environment. People with this type of personality are more likely to partake in drug-taking behaviour, which can lead to addiction. (8)

Boy watching his mother drink alcohol

Repeated Exposure

The complexity of drug addiction shouldn’t be underestimated, but sometimes it’s simple processes that can lead to drug abuse. Even spending prolonged amounts of time watching other people take drugs is a risk factor in developing an addiction. Not only that, but the positive reinforcement of taking drugs and having a good time can be enough to trigger compulsive drug use in some people. (9)

Getting Help for Drug Addiction

Sanctuary Lodge is a luxurious environment that offers the very best in psycho-therapeutic treatment (psychotherapy). As a private rehab clinic, we offer full detox in a residential treatment centre, followed by a personalised drug rehab programme. You’ll take part in individual and group sessions, family therapy is part of most treatment plans. Family therapy is particularly effective because it gives you a safe place where you and your family can discuss your shared problems and solve conflicts in peace.

When you come to us, we will greet you with open arms and give you the chance to rediscover your worth in life, acknowledge your strengths and regain your confidence while treating you form the physical and mental harms brought by your addiction. As part of the treatment plan, you can benefit from 12-step, acupuncture, art therapy, CBT, co-dependency support, contingency management, DBT, gong bath therapy, music therapy, mindfulness, psychosocial workshops and more.

Your care doesn’t end as you walk out of the door. Recovery is an ongoing process. This is why we provide free aftercare.

Drug Addictions We Treat

We provide state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment focused on healing your mind, body and spirit at our 24-room facility.

If you’re concerned by the amount of drugs you’ve been taking or how regularly you’re taking them, there are ways to not only get physically clean but to develop the mental strength to overcome your problem and start living a calmer, healthier life.

Aftercare Concept


Regularly referred to as marijuana, pot or weed, cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in the United Kingdom. Its main psychoactive component, THC, brings on feelings of relaxation, increased appetite, giggles and minor sensory distortions.

Cannabis affects the central nervous system. People often say they use it to enhance the atmosphere by smoking among a group of friends or to unwind after a stressful day at work, school or home. If you’re at risk of getting in trouble with the law or your finances, job or schoolwork is suffering as a result of cannabis use; it may be time to seek help.


Whether you’re suffering from addiction to prescription amphetamines or illegal stimulants, you will find support and comfort at the Sanctuary Lodge. Most of our staff are in recovery; we know how it feels to be afraid to admit your fears to others. We are here for you so that you can take the first step towards a life free of the effects of illegal stimulants.

Cocaine (including crack cocaine) and ecstasy (MDMA) are two of the most commonly used illegal drugs. (3) Their prevalence in the British party scene has been steady since the mid-1990s, but you can’t let that lull you into a false sense of security about how safe they are.

Sufferers of conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy may be given medications such as Ritalin or Desoxyn to manage their symptoms. If you don’t follow the dosage guidelines set out by your doctor, you drastically increase your risk of developing an addiction. Taking more and more of a drug to achieve the same effects is known as building a tolerance. If you’re worried this has been happening to you, a stay at rehab may be necessary.

Due to the fact that stimulants directly affect the dopamine system — believed to play a key role in developing addiction — they are thought to be some of the most addictive drugs available. If you’re concerned about the relationship you’ve developed with stimulants, help is at hand.


There is a fine line between benzodiazepine dependence and addiction; the former can quickly slip into the latter. Temazepam, diazepam, nimetazepam, nitrazepam, triazolam and midazolam are all benzos, as well as alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam and lorazepam.

Benzodiazepines are no longer routinely prescribed for the treatment of anxiety in the United Kingdom due to their potential for addiction. (4) When you use these drugs to treat negative emotions, you’re concealing the problem rather than dealing with it, which can contribute to a multitude of problems and an actual worsening of your condition.

Benzos can cause physical dependence when you use them for more than four weeks, so you may experience benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. The symptoms range of restlessness and anxiety to seizures and vomiting, so we recommend going through this process under medical supervision. We also offer medication to help ease the withdrawal symptoms and have a caring team on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support you. (5)


If you’ve ever tried to stop taking an opiate, you’ve become physically dependent on, you know how uncomfortable the withdrawal symptoms can be. At Sanctuary Lodge, our goal is to help ease you off the substance with as little discomfort as possible. The environment is peaceful, giving you the best chance of recovery and minimising stress and negativity.

When you’re going through a hard time as a result of using heroin or prescription painkillers such as fentanyl, morphine, methadone or oxycodone, it’s difficult to imagine what life would be if you stop. The physical and psychological addiction to this type of substance can be strong, and it can regularly trick your mind into finding a way to take more of the substances. But, although the process may be difficult, it’s not impossible; through self-believe and improving your health, via therapies and even a better eating regime, you can overcome your struggle. This and more is what you can find through the bespoke treatments we offer.

We are experienced in treating every aspect of opiate use disorder and implement the most up-to-date methods during detox and rehab to help you achieve long-term recovery.

Designer drugs

This term “legal highs” refers to the fact that most of these substances are designed to emulate the effects of well-known drugs such as cannabis, cocaine and morphine. However, they are no longer “legal” in the UK. If you’ve been sold these products or found them online, don’t be fooled by their fun-sounding names such as K2, spice or black mamba. Some of these products are sold commercially as plant food or bath salts and aren’t fit for human consumption. (6)

If you’re worried about the way you’ve been synthetic cannabinoids, cathinones or mephedrone, we can help you. By identifying the symptoms you’re suffering from, we can devise a treatment plan based on your unique needs and help empower you to overcome your addiction.

Outpatient NHS services

The NHS is the best starting place if you’re concerned about the way you’ve been using drugs. Speaking to your GP can give you a full understanding of all the options available to you. In most cases, outpatient services are offered to people struggling with addiction. During outpatient rehab, you’ll follow a treatment programme without around-the-clock support from addiction specialists and with limited access to therapies.

You are usually put on a waiting list with several months’ wait to access outpatient services, and when it comes to addiction, time really is of the essence.

Support groups

Support groups are an integral part of addiction treatment. Sharing your story and hearing what other people have been through can be one of the most profoundly effective ways of learning how to live a drug-free life. You partake in group therapy during your stay at Sanctuary Lodge, and we encourage you to find a local group upon completion of the programme. These are sessions of mutual help and sharing.

If you take part in support groups for at least a year after successfully finishing rehab, you’re much more likely to maintain sobriety in the long term. (10)

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of drug addiction?
The most telling sign of addiction is compulsively taking drugs in spite of being aware that it is having a negative impact on your personal, social, work or school life. You may have neglected your personal care and become more reclusive as you become preoccupied with drug use. Another sign that you are going through substance abuse disorder is a frequently changing mood that’s largely dependent on how much of a substance you have left in your system. Physical and psychological symptoms vary depending on the drug, so we don’t suggest you judge every compulsion as an eventual drug-abuse sign; better consult an addiction specialist for assistance.
How can I help a drug addict?
You can help someone struggling with substance abuse by supporting them and helping them to see that they are worthy of living their life to the fullest. Being negative and trying to get them to see that their behaviour is wrong can be counterproductive. It may make them feel bad and cause feelings that contribute to their desire to take drugs.
Are hallucinogenic drugs addictive?
While hallucinogenic drugs don’t directly impact neurotransmitters that cause physical dependence, they can still be addictive. For some of us, with some drugs, the compulsion to use is psychological. We become addicted to an escape from our current mental state, and hallucinogens are very effective in this regard. Psychological addiction is not treated less seriously than physical addiction, and we devise treatment plans based on your individual needs.
What is the most addictive drug?
It’s difficult to quantify which drug is the most addictive because substance dependence affects individuals in unique ways. The causes of addiction often differ significantly from person to person, and a drug that is highly addictive for you may not cause the same reaction in someone else.
Can you get addicted to drugs on your first try?
While it often takes several weeks or months to develop an addiction, the first time you try drugs can cause the chain reaction that leads to it. A positive first experience with drugs can be a powerful driving force to continue dabbling, especially among young people. The first time you try a drug is usually the time when the effects are felt most prominently. Chasing this initial high is a factor in the addictions of many people.

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