What is addiction?

Addiction happens when someone becomes physically or psychologically dependent on a substance – or a particular activity – despite the negative consequences it has on their life. Some of the symptoms of addiction include excessive use, an inability to manage everyday life without a particular substance or activity, mood swings, irritability, lying, changes in performance and more.

What is substance use disorder?

Substance use disorder is when someone persistently uses a substance despite the damage it causes them. Over time, it can also lead to dependence. Dependence involves developing a tolerance for a substance and going through withdrawal symptoms without it. 

Examples of substances that are often misused include:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamines
  • Club drugs
  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • LSD
  • PCP
  • Nicotine

What is behavioural addiction?

Similar to substances, behaviours can also become addictive. Behaviours become addictive when used excessively to help a person cope with difficult thoughts and feelings. Examples of addictive behaviours include: compulsive shopping, gambling, pornography, internet, eating and more.
consultation taking notes

Types of treatment for addiction

In therapy, your psychologist will help you explore and understand the origins of your difficulties and develop healthier, more effective strategies for managing life’s ups and downs.


In some cases, we might also require you to have an assessment with our Consultant Psychiatrist to consider medication that can help you manage the physiological elements of your addiction.

Frequently asked questions

You should get help as soon as you begin to notice that you are starting to feel dependent on a particular substance. This may be physical (e.g. getting withdrawal symptoms) or psychological (e.g. experiencing high levels of anxiety). If you are beginning to see that your addiction is having an impact on your daily life then this can also be an important signal that it is time to seek support.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). If we believe it is helpful to look at the more underlying causes then we might also progress to Schema Therapy.
In order to determine whether you need in-patient treatment for your addiction, we would recommend that you have a specialist assessment with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists. Generally speaking, you are more likely to need in-patient treatment if you are physically dependent on a substance as detoxing can be carried out more safely within an in-patient setting.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr. Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced Consultant Psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr. Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr. Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.