What is Substance Misuse and Addictions?

Alcohol Misuse

Substance misuse is the term used to describe the long term harmful and hazardous use of mind altering substances including alcohol, tobacco, prescribed medication or illicit street drugs.  Repeated use of these substances can lead to increased tolerance and ultimately addiction which can dictate the user’s behaviour and daily activity.

The use of drugs and alcohol in modern society is incredibly widespread and part of the fabric of our society.  People begin taking drugs and alcohol for many reasons these include;

  • Socially Acceptable (Alcohol, Caffeine)
  • Peer pressure
  • Effects are positive (initially)
  • Rebellion
  • Curiosity
  • Availability
  • Family factors (Parent and siblings do)
  • To block out events

For most, alcohol is unproblematic because it is taken in small quantities and the person is in full control of their desire to consume it. For others their ability to control both how often they drink and in what quantity is severely compromised. This can lead to significant physical and emotional difficulties for that individual and have negative implications for those around them.

Many people who drink excessively or take drugs state that their use of these substances is to help them cope with historical current situations they find difficult. As these substances do not tackle the underlying problem they only temporarily mask it. In turn this excessive use becomes a problem in itself that must be tackled.

Usually people begin taking the substance in small amounts and enjoy its beneficial side effects; however with prolonged use larger amount may need to be taken to get the effect, which can lead to misuse and dependency.


Signs and symptoms of drug or alcohol misuse

  • Frequent hangovers
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Domestic Violence
  • Lethargy or Loss of Interest
  • Problems at work
  • Increased tolerance
  • Taking risks
  • Blackouts
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Financial difficulties
  • Memory problems
  • Irritability
  • Feeling Run down
  • Depressed
  • Changes in sleep pattern, insomnia, sleeping through the day
Angry Girl

Impact on the Family

Drug and alcohol use can have significant negative impact on a person’s emotional and physical wellbeing depending on what substance they take, how much they take and over what period of time. As each substance interacts with the mind and body in different ways, the health implications are distinct for each one. It is therefore important to identify what substance an individual is taking in order to establish the full extent of its impact.

Substance misuse can have far reaching and devastating implications for the individual and family as a whole. It is the cause of significant conflict within the family unit not simply because of its direct, short term effects but because it negatively impacts upon relationships within the family. The primary problem is that the use of the substance me become the central feature in that person’s life, neglecting family members and their responsibility to the family. It is also extremely distressing for other family members to watch a family member suffer from their use of substances, often feeling that they are unable to help. Many users believe that they have the ability to stop taking the substance and any point of their choosing, yet are unable to do so.


How can we help?

The Practice MK offers an extensive range of Counselling and Psychotherapy, often called Talking Therapies to help individuals and their families manage issues around drug and alcohol use. Therapy sessions are delivered by trained and experienced practitioners who will provide the opportunity to discuss issues in a safe, understanding and supportive environment.

Individuals and their therapist may wish to discuss current or past issue affecting them, feelings they have around these issues and how these issues affect them and those around them. During sessions, individuals and therapists will look at coping strategies and methods to ensure positive outcomes for all concerned.

All our counsellors and therapists are accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)


If you or someone you know may be suffering from anxiety, drop us an email or telephone call and we can talk to you more about the services we provide.

The practice MK