Port of Call answers some of your most frequently asked questions about drugs and drug addiction. From the most addictive drugs, to legal highs, and the signs of a drug addict – we’ve got the answers.
Despite it being the most used drug in the UK (2.3 million users in the last year, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists), research suggests that cannabis is less addictive than most other illegal drugs. That’s not to say that cannabis use doesn’t come without its dangers however and a severe pshchological dependency to cannabis is not uncommon. Some users may experience psychotic symptoms with hallucinations and delusions lasting a few hours. While long-term use can have a depressant effect and reduce motivation. Cannabis addiction can be treated through entering a drug rehab programme and accessing the support you need.
Cocaine confuses the brain’s neural receptors and inhibits the natural production of dopamine. Once dopamine production falls below a certain level, the brain begins to crave cocaine as its replacement, which is the physiological basis of cocaine addiction. Physical dependence can be characterized by intense cravings for cocaine, fatigue and an increase in appetite. The psychological symptoms usually manifest in a significant change to a person’s personality. Cocaine becomes their number one priority and they may lose interest in hobbies and other factors of their life that they’d normally consider important. They may also become obsessed with making sure that they’ve always got enough cocaine at hand.
Cocaine is the seventh most addictive drug known to man according to several studies that have assigned cocaine a “dependency rating” of 2.13 out of a scale of three. According to those parameters, that ranks it slightly more addictive than amphetamines but slightly less addictive than alcohol. It is fair to say though, Cocaine is an extremely addictive substance.
Addiction symptoms specific to cocaine usage can include:
According to research by the UK Government’s former top drug adviser, professor David Nutt, and separate studies by Dutch scientists the most addictive drug is heroin, closely followed by crack cocaine and nicotine. Beyond those, the top ten most addictive drugs, in order of their “dependency rating” are methadone, crystal meth, alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, benzodiazepines and the club drug GHB.
General signs of drug addiction can include the following:
Dual diagnosis describes patients with both a mental illness and problematic drug and/or alcohol use. Personality disorders might also co-exist with a psychiatric illness and/or substance misuse. The phrase was coined in the USA back in the 1980s but has since been adopted in the UK. People with dual diagnosis generally have complex health, social, economic and emotional needs.
‘Legal highs’ usually contain one or more chemical substances that produce similar effects to illegal drugs. These new substances are not yet controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and there is limited research about their potency, adverse effects, and the effects of taking them with other substances or alcohol. However research is underway and many substances found in ‘legal highs’ have been made illegal. They cannot be sold for human consumption, so are often sold as plant food, incense, or bath salts to get round the law.
Just because a substance is labelled ‘legal’ it doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily legal or indeed safe. The alarming fact about so-called ‘legal highs’ is that there is no way of knowing exactly what is in them or what effect they might have – particularly when combined with other substances. Legal highs have been directly attributed to cases of poisoning, emergency hospital admissions (including mental health services) and death in extreme cases.
Mephedrone (aka ‘meow meow’ or ‘M-CAT’) is a powerful stimulant that is often described as a mix between amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine. It can make users feel euphoric, alert, confident, talkative and, in some cases, feel strong affection for those around them. But it can also lead to sickness, paranoia and anxiety, and damage to the heart and circulation. Plus, there is a risk of over-stimulating the nervous system, which may cause hallucinations, agitation and even fits. Mephedrone is classified as a Class B drug, so that means it is illegal to possess, give away or sell. Possession is illegal and can lead to five years in jail and/or an unlimited fine, whilst supplying someone else (even friends) can result in a fourteen year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine. To get around the law, some dealers claim that mephedrone is plant food, or a bath salt, and not for human consumption.
Substance abuse, or drug abuse, is a pattern of substance or drug use to levels that could be harmful to the drug user or others around them. Virtually any substance that results in a euphoric so-called ‘high’ can be abused.
Substance abuse can result in cardiovascular conditions, from an abnormal heart rate to a full-blown heart attack. The liver also has to work harder, when processing illicit substances, which can cause significant damage or liver failure in the longer term. It can also lead to seizures, stroke and mental issues like memory problems, impaired attention and decision-making and permanent brain damage. Behavioural issues can also become a concern, such as paranoia, aggressiveness, hallucinations, impaired judgment, impulsiveness, and loss of self-control.
Port of Call is here to help with our extensive Addiction Services, including finding a local rehab, and a network of highly qualified addiction experts are just a confidential free phone call away 08000029010
Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.
We’re specialists in UK rehab options and can advise you on alcohol rehab in the North West, drug rehab in the North West and other addiction support services in the area.