Generally the term ‘drug addiction’ refers to ‘recreational’ drugs, most of which are illegal. This is unfortunate because it gives the impression that other mood-altering substances come in different categories and are not of great concern to drug addicts. In fact any substance that has the capacity to alter the mood will be potentially addictive to drug addicts and therefore liable to lead them back to using their usual drugs. In this way alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, antidepressants, tranquillisers, sleeping tablets, pain-killers and many other substances are risky for addicts who want to stay clean. For example, cigarette smokers have double the relapse rate of non-smokers. Therefore the concern for cigarette smokers is not solely for their health but also for their risk of relapse.
The thinking side of the brain knows the difference between these various substances but the feeling part of the brain does not. The feeling part of the brain simply knows whether something ‘works’ or not. It soon recognises that potatoes have no mood-altering effect until they are distilled into whisky. It may know that rhubarb affects the bowel but it isn’t interested in that. Cannabis, another plant, is altogether a different matter. Irrespective of its legality or illegality it has a mood-altering effect on addicts and therefore they will often use it for that purpose.
Addicts will often have one particular ‘drug of choice’. Heroin addicts and cocaine addicts often see themselves as belonging to different groups when in fact they are all addicts – and will sometimes use the other drug when they cannot get their own particular favourite. Some addicts will regularly use both – or even a cocktail of drugs.
Not all users of a drug are addicted to it. For example, not all people who drink alcohol are alcoholic. Obviously not. The same is less obviously true for other drugs. Many smokers of cigarettes are not addicted to them. Nor are all users of cannabis or even cocaine. The crucial issue is not what is used or how much or when but why these substances are used. If they are used primarily to alter the mood then the user is probably an addict. the problem is that many addicts believe that they are not in fact addicts – and they go to immense lengths to “prove” that. People who are genuinely not addicts have no need to go to such elaborate proof.
Addicts are probably born rather than made. Their problems may be made worse by their home circumstances or other environmental factors but the prime cause is probably genetic. Addiction in one form or another may come down through the generations – not always in the same form – and it may skip a generation. Some addictions, such as eating disorders (other than anorexia) and prescription drug addiction are easily overlooked when searching the family tree.
In the long term the only safe way of getting free from addiction is to be totally abstinent from all mood-altering substances (and mood-altering processes such as gambling and sex addiction – which destroys all pleasure) and to work The Twelve Step Programme of Narcotics Anonymous on a continuing basis.
Doctor Lefever has over twenty-six years experience in the diagnosis, treatment and rehab of drug addicts. Please contact if you are concerned about yours or a loved one’s drug use.
True rehabilitation treatment, is far more complex than simply getting an alcoholic out of the pub and to stop drinking, a drug addict out of the clutches of a dealer or a criminal gang, an eating disorder sufferer out of a fitness centre or supermarket or a compulsive gambler out of a betting shop or casino.
Effective treatment depends upon helping each depressed or addicted patient, or client if that term is preferred, to recover from alcoholism or drug addiction or any other compulsive behaviour in a personal and confidential setting.
It requires care and concern, skill and experience, enthusiasm and creativity, rather than merely smart facilities in a residential treatment clinic.
Research into the causes of addictive disease show that there may be defects in Dopamine and Serotonin neuro-transmission systems and other pathways in the reward centres in the brain. Addiction may originate in a genetically linked defect in the neurotransmission systems. Treatment resources and approaches should therefore be designed to provide support and encouragement, rather than blame and humiliation, for addicted individuals and their families.
In a crisis, immediate admission is often necessary both for patients and for the wellbeing and peace of mind of their families and loved ones.Click here
Addiction can affect us all – you may not be an addict but sure ‘as eggs is eggs’ you will be affected by addiction… we can all learn from Dr Robert’s experience.
Patsy Palmer – Television actress and star playing Bianca Jackson in the BBC soap opera Eastenders.
Addiction affects everyone, not just addicts. Get the ongoing support for families and friends, first pioneered by Dr Robert Lefever, that you need.Click here
For the past 20 years Dr Robert Lefever has been involved professionally with the management of disorders of addiction, and has brought considerable experience and skill to this particular arena… All patients in this category should be under the care of a physician who has the polymathic skill and experience of Dr Robert Lefever, and I cannot recommend him too highly.
Dr Martin J Scurr – FRCP
…from the UK’s leading expert on the treatment of Addiction, Stress and Depression.Click here
Robert Lefever didn’t just save my life, which he most certainly did, he started me on a new life in recovery which was far more wonderful than my old life in addiction.
David Yelland – PR guru, writer and ex-Editor The Sun
I have known Robert Lefever for thirty years. He is always brilliant, sometimes bewildering and occasionally bonkers.
Michael Dobbs – Best-selling author of House of Cards
I have known Dr Robert Lefever well for more than twenty-five years… I have referred patients to him at regular intervals for treatment of psychological conditions and addiction problems… and I am pleased to recommend him to any patients who require treatment in his fields of expertise.
Dr Stuart Sanders – MB ChB FRCGP