If you have an addiction, you’re not alone. According to the charity Action on Addiction, 1 in 3 people are addicted to something.

Most commonly associated with gambling, drugs, alcohol and nicotine, addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could become harmful to you.

It’s possible to be addicted to just about anything, including:

  • work
  • internet
  • shopping
  • video games


There are lots of reasons why addictions and thus a dependency begins. In the case of drugs, alcohol and nicotine, these substances affect the way you feel, both physically and mentally. These feelings can be enjoyable and create a powerful urge to use the substances again.

Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms, or a “come down”.

Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the “high”.



The strain of managing an addiction can seriously damage your work life and relationships.

An addiction can be a way of blocking out difficult issues. Unemployment and poverty can trigger addiction, along with stress and emotional or professional pressure.



Alcohol misuse is drinking in a way that is harmful, or when you become dependent upon alcohol. There are many associated short term risks, including things like violence, accidents and injuries, and alcohol poisoning. There are also long term effects, including (but not limited to) increased risks of heart disease, stroke, liver disease, cancer, and brain damage.

In the UK, there is a national alcohol helpline on 0300 123 1110, and an Alcoholics Anonymous helpline on 0800 9177 650.

In the US, there is a national helpline with SAMHSA on 1 (800) 662-HELP (4357)

You can also visit Talk to Frank, who have a text service, email and helpline, and more information.



Addiction is a treatable condition.

Whatever the addiction, there are lots of ways you can seek help. In the first instance, you can see your GP for advice or contact an organisation that specialises in helping people with addictions.

We have many resources available at our Find Help page. If you’d like to find additional information on substance abuse, you can visit Drinkaware, We Are With You and Talk to Frank.


Gaming addiction is categorised as an impulse control disorder, which means you may struggle to manage your urge to play video games. Of course, not everyone who plays a lot has a problem with gaming.

However, there may be some signs that your love of gaming goes beyond general enthusiasm. Here’s what to look for in yourself or someone close to you – a partner, friend or child:

  • thinking about gaming all or a lot of the time
  • feeling bad when you can’t play
  • not being able to quit or even play less
  • having problems at work, school, or home because of your gaming
  • playing despite these problems
  • lying to people close to you about how much time you play

To keep the amount of time spent gaming under control, try to:

  • set time limits for play and stick to them
  • keep phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom so you won’t play into the night
  • do other activities every day, including exercise.

Families often play an important role in helping people manage their addiction. If you get help for yourself, you’ll be able to support your loved one better.