Matt Willis bares all in addiction documentary – where to find help

Matt Willis, who has made a new documentary on addiction. (Getty Images)
Matt Willis: Fighting Addiction aired on 17 May. (Getty Images)

Mat Willis has bravely opened up about his drink and drug addiction struggles and recovery journey in a new BBC documentary.

The Busted star and TV presenter, 40, said at one point he was doing six grams of cocaine on his own every day, while his wife, Emma Willis, said she was "so scared he would die", sparking an emotional response from viewers.

Having relapsed once before, Fighting Addiction also explores what it's like to be in what Matt describes as a "constant state of recovery".

Matt and Emma Willis. (Getty Images)
Matt and Emma Willis have been married since 2008. (Getty Images)

Following other celebrities opening up on their addiction experiences, including Tony Adams and Cara Delevingne, more is being done to help break the stigma and encourage others to get the help they need.

Here we outline how addictions might present in people and where to get help.

What is addiction?

Addiction is when you have no control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you, according to the NHS.

Addiction is commonly associated with drugs, alcohol, gambling and smoking in this way, but you can be addicted to anything.

This may also include:

  • Work – you may become physically exhausted, your relationship, family and social life might be affected, or you never take holidays

  • Internet – you may spend hours each day and night surfing the internet or gaming while neglecting other aspects of your life

  • Shopping – you may buy things you don't need or want to achieve a 'buzz', followed by feelings of guilt, shame or despair

Addiction causes

There are many reasons why addictions may begin. Drugs, alcohol and nicotine, for example, can have a powerful effect on the brain, creating a feeling that you may have the strong urge to experience again.

Gambling, if successful, can give you a similar 'high', which can lead you to want to try again until it becomes a habit.

If you are addicted to something, you can have withdrawal symptoms or a 'come down' without it, meaning some may keep doing it to avoid these unpleasant feelings, becoming a vicious cycle.

Addiction can get out of control when you are both dependent on something and need (or need to do) more and more of it to achieve the same sensation.

Research also associates some addictions, like alcoholism, may have a family history, as well as environmental factors. They can, however, happen to anyone.

illegal use of and selling/buying cocaine by teenager
Addictions are considered a chronic disease of the brain that can happen to anyone. (Getty Images)

Signs of addiction

'Managing' an addiction can put a big strain on your work life and relationships. When your addiction is substance abuse, this can have serious psychological and physical effects on you.

The signs and symptoms of an addiction can vary depending on the person and the type of addiction. However, there are some common key ones to be aware of.

Psychological symptoms, according to the Priory, include:

  • Mood swings

  • Increased temper

  • Tiredness

  • Paranoia

  • Defensiveness

  • Agitation

  • Inability to focus or concentrate

  • Poor judgement

  • Memory problems

  • Diminished self-esteem and self-worth

  • Feelings of hopelessness

  • Exacerbation of any existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or stress

Behavioural and social signs, include:

  • Secretive or dishonest behaviour

  • Poor performance and/or attendance at work or school

  • Withdrawing from responsibility and socialising

  • Losing interest in activities, hobbies or events that were once important to you

  • Continuing to use the substance, or engage in certain behaviours, despite the negative consequences they cause

  • Trying but failing to reduce or stop misusing a substance, or engaging in certain behaviours

Physical symptoms, include:

  • Lack of concern over physical appearance/personal hygiene

  • Disrupted sleep patterns, including insomnia

Elderly man uses smartphone for sports betting from home
There are many different types of addictions, but help is out there for them all. (Getty Images)

Where to get help for addictions

While addictions can feel impossible to shake, they are a treatable condition. Speak to your GP for advice or contact an organisation that specialises in addictions generally, or the one you're struggling with.

Depending on the addiction, treatment may include:

  • support to help you stop drinking/doing something

  • talking therapies, like counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

  • group therapy

  • self-help

  • medicines

  • reducing harm

  • detoxification

  • rehabilitation

Group of people standing in a huddle during therapy session.
Find the right support for you. (Getty Images)

Support with alcohol

  • Drinkline from Drinkaware – if you're worried about your own or someone else's drinking, call this free confidential helpline on 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am to 8pm, weekends 11am to 4pm)

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) – contact this free self-help group on 0800 9177 650 or email

  • Al-Anon Family Groups – for support and understanding as the friend or family member of problem drinkers call its confidential helpline on 0800 0086 811

Support with drugs

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – for support for anyone who wants to stop using drugs call 0300 999 1212

Frank – for confidential advice and information about drugs, their effects, and the law call 0300 123 6600

You can also find services in your area here for alcohol, drug and smoking, find more information on gambling support, or speak to your doctor about the best treatment for your addiction.

Watch: Simon Pegg says alcoholism will do everything it can to not be stopped