Drugs, alcohol and addiction

About addictions

People can become addicted to many things: a substance like drugs or alcohol, or a type of behaviour like gambling, sex, surfing the net, exercise or shoplifting. Amongst the student population, the use of drugs and alcohol carry the greatest risk of addiction.

Being addicted means having a craving for something. Once the object of craving is consumed there is usually an emotional high before a downturn and renewed craving. This forms a pattern of repeated behaviour that can become very central to someone's daily life.

Often, such addictions are seen by the victim as a way of managing difficult thoughts and feelings. By filling the mind with the addictive pattern there is little room for other, perhaps more anxiety provoking issues.

The majority of those who occasionally indulge in potentially addictive substances or behaviour come to no long-term harm. But some run into problems and, in the more extreme cases, risk death as a direct result of their addiction.

Counselling can be useful to help people to look at the underlying difficult feelings. There are also many organisations which specialise in different types of addiction where help can be found.

A classification of alcohol and drug use

External resources

The following websites provide helpful information and advice for those struggling with addiction: