Substance Misuse

What is substance misuse?

Substance misuse is when a substance is used repetitively in a way that is damaging – and it can also lead to dependence. Dependence happens when a person develops a tolerance for a substance over time and experiences withdrawal symptoms without it.

Our approach

If you are struggling with substance misuse, we will carry out a comprehensive assessment of your current needs. It’s important for us to understand whether you are experiencing psychological or physiological dependence.


A psychiatrist will typically oversee your treatment to determine whether you could benefit from taking medication as part of your treatment plan. We also place a significant emphasis on understanding the psychological roots of your substance misuse difficulties.


This will involve motivational interviewing to help us understand your commitment to change. From here, we will determine which type of psychological support you could benefit from, depending on whether you are looking to become abstinent or wanting to follow a reduction programme.

consultation taking notes

Examples of substances that are often misused include:

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

Frequently asked questions

You should seek support for substance misuse if you are finding yourself increasingly dependent on a substance (psychologically or physically). Physical dependency means that you are needing to take a substance at regular intervals throughout the day in order to not experience withdrawal symptoms. Psychological dependency would mean that you are reliant on it to manage daily life. You may be finding that your substance misuse is having an impact on your life, whether that involves your performance at work or your relationships with the people around you.
If you think you are struggling with physiological dependence, it is likely that you will need to detox from a substance and this is more safely carried out in an in-patient setting. If this is the case, we recommend speaking to your GP who will be able to discuss the options with you. Otherwise – and if you believe your dependence is more psychological – an assessment with one of our psychologists or psychiatrists will help determine the best next steps for you.

Related videos

Start your journey


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.