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Drug addiction: getting help

If you need treatment for drug addiction, you're entitled to NHS care in the same way as anyone else who has a health problem. With the right help and support, it's possible for you to get drug free and stay that way.

Where can I get help for drugs?

Your GP is a good place to start. They can discuss your problems with you and get you into treatment.

They may offer you treatment at the practice or refer you to your local drug service.

If you're not comfortable talking to your GP, you can approach your local drug treatment service yourself.

Visit the Frank website to find local drug treatment services (external link).

If you're having trouble finding the right sort of help, call the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. They can talk you through all your options.

What other help is available?

As well as the NHS, there are charities and private drug and alcohol treatment organisations that can help you.

Private drug treatment can be very expensive but sometimes people get referrals through their local NHS.

Visit the Adfam website to see a list of useful organisations (external link).

What happens at your first appointment?

At your first appointment for drug treatment, staff will ask you about your drug use. They will also ask about your work, family and housing situation.

You may be asked to provide a sample of urine or saliva.

Staff will talk you through all of your treatment options and agree a treatment plan with you. They can tell you about local support groups for drug users and their families or carers.

You'll also be given a keyworker who will support you throughout your treatment.

What does drug treatment involve?

This depends on your personal circumstances and also what you're addicted to. Your keyworker will work with you to plan the right treatment for you.

Your treatment may include:

  • Talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help you see how your thoughts and feelings affect your behaviour.
  • Treatment with medicines if you are dependent on heroin or another opioid drug, you may be offered a substitute drug such as methodone. This means you can get on with your treatment without having to worry about withdrawing or buying street drugs.
  • Detoxification (detox), is for people who want to stop taking opioid drugs like herion completely. It helps you to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.
  • Self-help, such as getting help from support groups like Narcotics Anonymous can be helpful for some people. Your keyworker can tell you where your nearest group is.
  • Reducing harm, your drug workers will help you reduce the risks associated with your drug taking. You may be offered testing and treatment for things like hepatitis or HIV.

Where will I have my treatment?

You may have your treatment while living at home or as a hospital inpatient.

If your drug-related problems are severe or complicated you may be referred to a residential rehab.

For more information about residential rehab, or to find a rehab near you, visit rehabonline (external link).

For more information about treatment for specific drugs please see the following links:

Useful links

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