It will help to challenge myths, break down the ongoing stigma that attaches to the condition, improve understanding of its effects and how these can be addressed, as well as encouraging more people to seek the treatment they need to recover and to stay in recovery, says Nick Barton, Chief Executive of Action on Addiction.

The National Addiction Centre has estimated that, including smoking, 1 in 3 people suffer from addiction in the UK. There are then a great many more who while not addicted themselves also suffer, including partners, parents, children, friends, carers and colleagues. Addiction takes an enormous and widespread toll on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole.

What is classed as an addiction?
Addiction is characterised by a consuming relationship with a substance or behaviour that is driven by a conscious or unconscious desire to feel something different, which becomes self-perpetuating and results in a range of harmful consequences. We must remember that no-one sets out in life to become addicted, just as no–one sets out to develop cancer or diabetes.

Understanding the wider challenges
As part of this campaign we will hear from Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones who discusses the social impacts of behavioural addictions, Professor Robert West who offers a spotlight on smoking addiction, Noreen Oliver who explains the scope of rehabilitation services available, the agency DrugScope who are looking at both harm reduction and abstinence methods of treatment and recovery from addiction and Dr Owen Bowden-Jones at the Royal College of Psychiatrists on the push for better treatment services for a new wave of drug and behavioural addictions.

The need for further support for those affected
Many people find addiction a difficult subject and would rather avoid looking too closely, but given that it affects so many lives directly or indirectly in so many ways we cannot afford to turn away. Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge has recently chosen to be patron of an addiction charity, which will hopefully help to highlight the growing importance of tackling this problem. We hope that it will encourage others to look again at the issues and get involved in the fight against addiction.