It is a sad fact that addiction is all around us in society. It is often hidden but we will all know someone who is an addict, whether they are addicted to substances, such as drugs and alcohol, or behaviours, for example gambling and self-harm.
Addiction can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. We often see people who appear to be functioning at work and at home but are deeply affected by their addiction and possibly on the road to further difficulties.
Anyone can be an addict. It does not hinge on your salary, job, age, race or upbringing. The fact that addiction is a disease of the brain makes it a complicated beast to deconstruct. There are, however, certain risk factors. Psychological issues relating to stress and depression, a person’s genetic disposition, as well as exposure to physical / sexual / emotional abuse or drug addiction at a young age all have the capacity to increase someone’s chances of becoming an addict.
It is unfortunately known that thousands of people are dying from alcohol-related conditions in the UK.
- In 2015, there were a recorded 8,754 alcohol-related deaths in the UK, an age standardised rate of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 members of the population. This number is higher than in 1994.
- The majority of alcohol-related deaths (65%) in the UK were men.
- The average age for both men and women to die from alcohol-related conditions was between 55 and 64 years old, although all age groups were represented.
- Scotland remains the UK member with the highest rate of alcohol deaths, though it has seen a significant decrease from the levels that peaked in the early 2000s.
- Alcohol misuse is the biggest risk factor for death, ill-health and disability among 15-49-year-olds in the UK, and the fifth biggest risk factor across all ages.
- Alcohol harms are estimated to cost the NHS around £3.5 billion each year.
Sometimes we can be quick to judge those suffering from dependency. It’s important to remember that addiction is an illness. It may not seem obvious, but the stigma and shame felt by addicts can drive them further into self-abusive behaviour as a coping mechanism. This can have the damaging circular result of greater addiction leading to greater shame, leading to greater addiction and so on. It’s essential to break this cycle to help the addict address their problem. They need to know and feel that they have your support not your judgement. Getting people with addiction into a treatment centre (like Broadway Lodge) can be a challenge. The removal of stigma and shame is important to empower people struggling with addiction to come forward. Addiction support and understanding can be a crucial early step and precursor to their eventual recovery.
If you’re worried you or someone you love might be becoming dependent on a substance or have an addiction there are many ways you can reach out and ask for support, take a look at the infographic above, help will always be at hand.