Drug and alcohol
Drug and alcohol misuse

What is substance misuse and what effect does it have?

Substance misuse means that a person is using a substance, for example drugs or alcohol, in a way that is harmful to their health. This can lead to a dependency on the substance, where psychological, cognitive, and behavioural problems develop. When dependent, a person will continue to use regardless of the potential consequences to their personal life or safety.


How substance misuse affects a person can be highly individual depending on their circumstances, behaviour and the substance they use. For example, drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis can cause alcohol-related brain damage.

Common physical symptoms of substance misuse include:

Organ damage or failure


  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dental decay
  • Sleeping problems
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Problems with digestion
  • Heart and circulation problems


Common mental symptoms include:


  • A powerful craving for a specific substance
  • Poor decision-making
  • An inability to concentrate or focus
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory loss


In addition to health and wellbeing symptoms, addiction to drugs and alcohol can also have a huge impact on the personal life of an individual, resulting in an inability to maintain relationships, a likelihood to make poor financial decisions and a difficulty in maintaining and progressing in work.

What do we do?

We can offer supervised accommodation for those who may find it difficult to recover if they continue to live independently at home.


Depending on individual needs, the person can receive intensive physical and mental support as well as social care where they take part in programmes to aid recovery. In many cases we help people through the early stages of withdrawal and support them in making changes to their lifestyle which will allow them to continue their recovery when they leave.


Just like with other illnesses or conditions, substance misuse can impact people in a variety of different ways and so care homes will focus on person-centred care.

One example of what substance misuse can cause is Alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). This is when excessive drinking has resulted in damage to the brain’s nerve cells, blood vessels and low levels of thiamine (vitamin B1). It is common for people who abuse alcohol to also be malnourished as they are less likely to maintain a balanced diet.


In turn, this leads to problems with memory, learning and other cognitive skills such as judgment and understanding. Unless treated, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to Korsakoff’s Syndrome.


A person with ARBD may be unable to live independently, but it is possible to make a partial or even full recovery. In a care home, a person with ARBD will be supported to regain their independence through helping them re-establish life skills, which could be anything from doing the laundry, cooking, socialising and spending time in the great outdoors.