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What is an Addiction?

Addiction is a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. Common addictions are to alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex, but it’s possible to become addicted to anything. There are approximately 2 million people in the UK who have an addiction.

When Does Addiction Become a Problem?

Some people use substances on a regular basis without any problems. However, other people experience damaging psychological and physical effects, as a habit turns into an addiction.

If you are addicted to a substance, the more you use it the more tolerant your body becomes, until you need to use larger and more frequent amounts of it to get the same effect. This can have drastic effects on your mental and physical health, and on those people that are close to you, such as family members and friends.

There’s no single reason why addictions develop. Addictions such as, gambling, alcohol, drugs and nicotine change the way you feel, both mentally and physically, which you may enjoy and want to repeat.

Activities such as sex or gambling may cause a ‘high’ on winning, followed by a desire to repeat the success. This can happen over and over again, until eventually it becomes a habit that can’t be broken because it’s become a regular part of your life.

Locally commissioned services

There are many different organisations that provide treatment, support and advice to people with addictions.  If you are concerned about an addiction, you could speak to your GP or a service commissioned by Newcastle City Council.  These are:

Change Grow Live offer a stop smoking service.

Newcastle Treatment and Recovery service (NTaR) are commissioned to offer drug and alcohol recovery support for young people and adults

PROPS North East (Positive Response to Overcoming Problems of Substance misuse in the family) provide support and information to families of people using alcohol and drugs by providing a range of support services, advocacy, counselling, training and community empowerment.

Useful organisations

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a voluntary fellowship of individuals who are alcoholics and who help each other to become, and stay, sober by sharing experiences and giving support.

Adfam is a national organisation for families affected by drugs and alcohol.

GamCare is a national charity that gives help, advice and support on gambling addiction and problem gambling.

GamAnon (Newcastle) is a meeting in Newcastle for compulsive gamblers wanting to regain control of their lives

FRANK is a free confidential drugs telephone helpline, which provides advice, information and support to anyone who is concerned about drug and solvent use. This includes drug users, recovering or past users, friends, family, colleagues or contacts of drug users.

Narcotics Anonymous NA is a voluntary fellowship of people who meet to support each other to become, and stay, abstinent from all drugs including alcohol.

Road to Recovery Trust run the George Street Social as a safe social hub for people in recovery from alcohol and addictions.

Relate Northumberland and Tyneside offer relationship counselling and sex therapy.

Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) offer meetings, telephone and online advice for people struggling with sex or romance addiction.

We are with you – support for families online, webchat and face to face.

Other Useful Information

  • George Street Social is a café and recovery space run by people in recovery. As well as a café it provides a safe space for many different 12 Step Fellowship groups and has diverse activities.
  • Patient Information Centre has a range of easy to read mental health self help guides
  • NHS.UK
  • ReCoCo: The Recovery College College run various peer-led support groups, and free educational and creative courses, which are open to anyone who would find them helpful in their recovery from mental illness, substance misuse, addictions, trauma or distress.
  • Changing Lives Sanctum consists of safe accommodation for men and women who have experienced domestic abuse and who cannot access mainstream services or refuge for multiple reasons e.g. if they have drug or alcohol issues

Last updated: July 1, 2022

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