How big of a problem is drugs and alcohol in the UK?

an estimated 29.2 million people are drinking alcohol weekly and an estimated 313,971 drug users (aged 15 to 64) across the UK, millions of lives are changed by dependency of alcohol and drugs. The mental effects spread like the plague, not just affecting the dependent individual but family, friends, work and health services. Poor mental health is on the rise in the UK,  many people turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape. There are an estimated 589,000 people who are dependent on alcohol in England and about a quarter of them are likely to be receiving mental health medication; mostly for anxiety and depression, but also for sleep problems, psychosis and bipolar disorder.When you have both a substance abuse problem and a mental health issue such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety, it is called a co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis. Dealing with substance abuse, alcoholism, or drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems.


In England around 3 million people take drugs and drug deaths are the highest on record at nearly 3,000 a year. In the last decade, heroin-related deaths have more than doubled and cocaine-related deaths have grown fivefold. The situation in Scotland is even worse and is now known as the drug death capital of Europe. Why do people take drugs? Drugs can act as a temporary coping mechanism to get you through difficult times. However, drugs can make these feelings and emotions even worse. And in the long term, any feelings of relief won’t last. You may find yourself using more and more drugs to deal with your problems and risk becoming dependent on them which can create new problems for you. Regular cannabis use can increase your risk of anxiety or depression. There’s also a link between using stronger cannabis and developing psychosis or schizophrenia.  Stimulant drugs can make you feel depressed, anxious and paranoid. Cocaine, a type of stimulant, can make previous mental health problems recur and trigger psychosis and schizophrenia. Ecstasy users can experience memory problems. Hallucinogenic drugs such as magic mushrooms can make any mental health issues worse. They can make you feel detached from your surroundings and cause flashbacks, which can be frightening or distressing.


Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can disrupt the balance of chemical messengers in your brain and affect your feelings, thoughts and behaviour. Alcohol affects the part of your brain that controls inhibition, so after a drink or two, you may feel relaxed, less anxious and more confident. But these effects quickly wear off. The chemical changes in your brain can soon lead to more negative feelings such as anger, depression or anxiety taking over, regardless of the mood you’re in.

For the families and friends of someone suffering with dependency it can be a very difficult time, To remain patient and understanding can be hard. You can become frustrated as you watch them and the physical and mental health deteriorate. You want to help, but the individual must help themselves. Looking after one’s mental health would be a good first step, Fix the cause of the problem.

Just some of the people we've worked with