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What is Drug & Alcohol Addiction? 

There are a wide range of substances on which people can become dependent, including alcohol, prescription drugs such as painkillers or sleeping tablets, steroids, study-enhancing substances and/or illicit drugs. The reasons for using these substances can include attempts to handle difficult emotions, manage mental ill-health, wanting to fit in with others or cope with various stressors. However, the misuse of substances can have a detrimental effect on a person’s emotions, behaviours, physical health and long-term coping mechanisms. 

Addiction to substances affects the brain and a person’s behaviour, which can lead to increased use of the use of a legal/illegal drug or medication and makes it harder to stop. When someone has a dependency on a particular substance, they are likely to continue using it despite the harm it causes. This can be in a regular pattern of daily use, or in binges. 

Risky or excessive alcohol use means drinking more than the recommended amounts, which results in adverse effects on health. If you regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week then this will be having an impact on your mood, physical health and ability to engage in academic work. 

Is your substance use having a negative impact on your life? Do you feel that the substance is in control of you, rather than you are in control of it? Do you struggle to put the top back on the bottle once you’ve taken it off? 

You may wish to complete a screening tool to assess what level of risk is posed by your current substance use:

You may have noticed some of the following:

·       Feeling low or anxious 
·       Mood swings or acting out of character 

·       Angry or irritable 

·       Feeling overwhelmed, stressed or unable to cope 

·       Feeling fearful, anxious or paranoid 

·       Feelings of guilt about your substance misuse 

·       Lack of care towards your personal appearance/grooming 

·       Lethargy, lack of energy and feeling tired all the time 

·       Poor sleep pattern 

·       Becoming more withdrawn 

·       Unable to relax 

·       Poor concentration and making decisions 

·       Changes in weight 

·       Not eating enough or over-eating 

It is important to think about wider factors in your life which are contributing to you using substances problematically. You can get support for health and wellbeing issues through UCLan’s Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing Service by completing the online self-referral form.

What is problem gambling?

Problem gambling is the urge to gamble continuously despite harmful consequences or desire to stop, causing harm to the gambler and those around them. It can affect anyone regardless of age, gender and ethnic background.
 Nobody knows what causes problem gambling and there are links seen between family gambling behaviour, the age at which is starts and experiencing a big win early on, however it is not possible to determine the cause. A problem gambler may also experience other issues such as an alcohol or substance addiction.
Impacts of Problematic Gambling​:

  • Debt
  • Family and Relationships
  • Domestic Violence
  • Alcohol and Drug Misuse
  • Isolation
  • Accommodation
  • Employment
  • Crime 
  • Mental health 
  • High risk of suicide

Potential identifiers of a problematic gambler:

  • Spending longer playing than is reasonable
  • Wins regularly (or big) but remains playing
  • Frequently acquires additional funds
  • Alcohol and Drug Misuse
  • Becomes agitated, distressed or aggressive
  • Continues to play when companions have left
  • Seeks to borrow money frequently
  • Asks for help
Gambling becomes a problem when it harms your mental or physical health, academic work, employment, finances and relationships with family and friends.

I think I have an addiction- what can I do?

There is range of different support available for those affected by addiction. You can access self-help through apps and support websites, as well as making a referral to access personalised support.
 If you are a student at UCLan, you can self refer to the Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing service if you are concerned about substance misuse or problem gambling that you, or someone you know, is affected by.

For staff at UCLan, the Staff Counselling Service offers a confidential, accessible counselling service to all its employees, in line with the  University's mission statement and policies. If you are a member of staff, you can email the Staff Counselling service to request an appointment.


Drug and Alcohol Information and Support Agencies

NHS information about alcohol misuse

NHS information about drug misuse


Talk to Frank

NHS Self help booklet from Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust

You may wish to contact a specialist service which supports people affected by substance misuse. Some links to these can be found below:


We are With You – for under 25s (Preston)

We are With You – for under 25s (Burnley)

CGL Inspire – for all other clients (North Lancashire)

CGL Inspire – for all other clients (East Lancashire)


Human Kind is an Alcohol and Drug Recovery Service in Cumbria.
CADAS work with individuals and communities in Cumbria to reduce the harm caused by substance.
If you live in another region, you can find your local provider by searching for drug and alcohol support on your local council website.
Gambling Information and Support Agencies

Beacon Counselling Trust are based in Liverpool andoffer support for those affected by gambling personally, or by someone in their family. You can contact them by calling 0151 2260696, emailing gamcare@beaconcounsellingtrust.co.uk or completing the referral form on their site.

Gamcare provide a wide range of information and support. Their website contains a wealth of self help material including information on how to self exclude effectively, a self help workbook and a self assessment tool.

BigDeal is a place for young people to find information and support related to gambling, either for themselves or someone they care about.

Following general wellbeing tips and developing support networks and positive coping strategies can help you move away from dependence on substances and gambling. See UCLan’s Counselling, Mental Health and Wellbeing pages for links to workshops, self-help and useful apps.

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