You don't have to be addicted for substance use to be a problem

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Updated Jan 20, 2022 by Dr. Sheri Jacobson Dr Sheri Jacobson

Substance Abuse Therapy London

Often use drugs or alcohol? 

Has a friend or loved one hinted you have a problem? But as you don't have signs of addiction, you keep telling yourself there isn't a real issue?

Substance abuse is a different classification than dependency, but can still have serious repercussions.

From use to abuse

You can think of substance use as a spectrum. On one end is a non user. On the other end is addiction, where you can no longer control your desire for and use of a substance, and it is causing undeniable damage to your daily life. 

Substance abuse would be the second half of the spectrum. Your drug of choice doesn’t have a full hold over you, but is an active part of your life that increasingly has negative repercussions. 

Substance abuse can be a serious problem not just for adults, but for young people and even children. And in some cases it can trigger a predisposition for schizophrenia. 

Substance abuse assessment 

Your use of a substance can be assessed as a serious issue if it:

  • causes physical harm like illness, injury, or medical symptoms
  • leads to poor judgement and bad decisions 
  • sees you acting in ways that create difficulties, which could be related to finances, relationships, your career, or otherwise. 

For example, if cocaine use means you have a constantly bleeding nose, it is substance abuse. If you have taken to smoking cannabis every night, and it’s led to being tired and snapping at your children? It also qualifies. 

What substances count? 

Is it 'just' prescription meds you overuse? Or just wine, not spirits? All forms of mind-altering substances count. And if you are using more than one substance then it's important to admit to the bigger picture of misuse you are engaging in.

Is substance abuse a mental health diagnosis? 

‘Substance abuse’ was an official diagnosis in America’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. But in the latest version, the DSM-5, this now comes under a spectrum diagnosis, 'substance use disorder'. While 'severe substance use disorder' would signify addiction, the two other categories, 'mild' and 'moderate', signify substance abuse. 

 The World Health Organisation and their manual the ICD, which is more commonly referred to here in the UK, instead refers to ‘harmful use’. Previously called 'non dependent use', it means your intake is causing physical or psychological harm and has been going on for at least one month, or on and off within a 12-month period. 

What therapy does a substance abuse counsellor offer?  

The UK's National Institute for Health and Care Exellence (NICE) includes in their recommended treatments for drug misuse and alcohol misuse in the over 16s:

For children engaged in alcohol misuse, they also recommend family therapy. 

Substance abuse treatment- The Harley Therapy™ approach

At Harley Therapy we don't see you as a diagnosis, but as an individual. Our team of highly rated and experienced substance abuse counsellors find a tailored treatment plan that works for you, and helps you:

  • gain new perspective on what truly matters to you
  • recognise and navigate triggers
  • learn and implement positive ways of dealing with stress
  • make better decisions that mean less stress in the first place. 

Gain back control of your life

Call us now or complete our online booking form to make an appointment for drug or alcoholism counselling or a substance abuse assessment. We have offices in the City of London, Victoria, London Bridge, and on Harley Street, and also offer sessions online. 

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Further reading on substance abuse 


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The NHS (National Health Service) is the UK's government run medical service. Their website is written and reviewed by medical experts.

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The UK Council for Psychotherapy

The UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) is the UK’s leading organisation for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors. It regulates and registers trained and trainee counsellors.

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The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is an association for UK-based counselling professionals. It supports practitioners, enabling them to provide a better service.

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The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the UK’s national radio and TV broadcaster. It’s the world’s largest, with 35,402 staff and 28 operating languages.

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Mind is a mental health charity covering England and Wales. It offers support to people with mental health problems and lobbies local and national governments.

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Turning Point

Turning Point is a UK charity and social enterprise which works in the mental health, learning disabilities, substance abuse, criminal justice and employment areas.

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The Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is a UK charity which helps people to understand, protect and improve their mental health.

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Young Minds

Young Minds is a UK charity which works to improve the mental health of children and young people by providing appropriate support and resources.

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Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that’s written and maintained by a global volunteer community. It’s the largest-ever reference work and receives 1.7 unique visitors monthly.

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How to book your session

Call us now on 0345 474 1724 OR

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All of our practitioners are qualified and accredited with reputable professional associations for counselling and psychotherapy.

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Harley Therapy Ltd. “Substance abuse treatment in London • Harley Therapy™”. Harley Therapy, 20 Jan. 2022, Accessed 22 May. 2022.


Harley Therapy Ltd. (2022, January 20). Substance abuse treatment in London • Harley Therapy™. Retrieved from


Harley Therapy Ltd. "Substance abuse treatment in London • Harley Therapy™." Last modified January 20, 2022. Accessed May 22, 2022.

Online Therapy and Online Counselling


Talk therapy can help with:

  • cannabis reliance
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • prescription meds abuse
  • recreational drug overuse 
  • substance-related depression.
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