The Retreat NZ is one of the only residential rehabs in New Zealand that focuses solely on helping individuals with alcohol dependency. But what is the difference between alcohol addicition and drug addicition?

The Retreat NZ is one of the only residential rehabs in New Zealand that focuses solely on helping individuals with alcohol dependency. Unlike other treatment centres that offer alcohol and drug addiction rehabilitation, this creates the ideal environment for guests to be surrounded with like-minded individuals away from their drinking environment, as well as staff who have overcome alcohol addiction themselves.


All of The Retreat NZ’s programmes are fully integrated with the 12 steps of recovery from addiction to alcohol. This enables us to deliver highly comprehensive programmes designed specifically for this purpose, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to addiction more generally.


Alcohol addiction usually refers to a physical dependence on alcohol, although it often includes psychological addiction. Alcoholism refers to a situation where the individual is physically and mentally addicted to alcohol. Drug addiction indicates a generalised condition where a person can be addicted to any substance.


Drugs are addictive substances that change the way the body handles communication and processes information. In our culture, we tend to separate alcohol from other drugs, giving it a unique status. Whilst alcohol is still widely recognised as a drug, because it is legal it doesn’t have the same social stigma attached to illegal drug addiction. We may joke about someone having one too many drinks; we do not joke about someone rolling up their sleeve and injecting an illegal substance.


The stigma around illicit drug use can also affect one’s sense of worth. Where alcohol consumption is socially acceptable, taking illegal drugs tends to be more hidden and isolated and is more likely to lead to being labeled as “less” by society, which can easily exacerbate an existing problem.

In addition, not all drugs have the same effect. For example, a cocaine user may describe euphoria, inflated confidence in themselves and a desire to be with others, whereas a marijuana user may experience a sense of ease or relaxation.


Our cultural attitude towards alcohol, as well as its legal availability, has likely contributed to the fact that more people are addicted to alcohol. Although there are differences to being addicted to alcohol and being addicted to a drug of another kind, alcohol and drug addiction have a lot in common and similar treatment programmes are available.


When looking at alcohol compared to illegal drugs as a common group, there are some differences in how the addiction changes our physical body. The more serious physical effects of alcohol abuse can include depression, high blood pressure, ulcers, alcoholic hepatitis, damage to the heart, liver, pancreas and immune system, comas, strokes and certain cancers.


The more serious physical effects of drug abuse can include overdoses, violent or accidental death, organ failures due to accumulated toxicity, and getting a disease, like HIV, while addicted. Alcohol and drug addiction can also cause different feelings or withdrawal symptoms.


Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary widely in severity. In severe cases, the condition can be life-threatening. Symptoms may occur from a few hours to several days after stopping alcohol. They may include headaches, nausea, tremors, anxiety, hallucinations and seizures. In many cases, alcohol withdrawal requires medical treatment.


It is important to seek medical advice before deciding which detox method is right for you. To determine if an individual can withdraw from substance abuse without using medications, The Retreat NZ requires a thorough evaluation and screening by a doctor before admitting guests into our Social Detox Programme.

Hand of young supportive man consoling his friend or one of attendants with post traumatic syndrome caused by dramatic life event

Symptoms of drug addiction may be similar or differ, depending on the drug. At The Retreat NZ, we understand what it is like to feel alone and powerless whilst caught in the grips of addiction. Our focus on helping people solely with alcohol dependency enables us to deliver more comprehensive programmes of specialised treatment.


The first step begins with getting honest with yourself. It is courageous to admit you have a problem and brave to reach out for help. Contact The Retreat NZ today to find out how we can help you get better, together.