There is a wide range of services dedicated to helping people with drug and alcohol problems - including telephone helplines, advice and information services, needle exchanges, prescribing services, in-patient detoxification, structured counselling and rehabilitative treatment (day care and residential).
[Contact details & links for any of the agencies and resources listed below can be found at the bottom of this page.]
Helplines and guidance
Talk to Frank (formerly the National Drugs Helpline) and Drinkline provide telephone based general advice on drugs and alcohol, and help in accessing treatment and support services. These services cater primarily for people living in England. Wales Drug & Alcohol helpline (DAN 24/7) provides similar service in Wales and Know the Score & Alcohol Focus Scotland to people in Scotland. The Health Promotion Agency in Northern Ireland provides a helpline in relation to both drugs and alcohol. Release provide telephone support and advice regarding drug problems, with a particular focus on legal and human rights issues. The National Treatment Agency have produced a written guide to drug treatment.
Open access services
Advice and information services (sometimes called drop-in services or street agencies) and needle exchanges are both known as open access services. This means that anyone may access them without charge and without needing a referral from another agency. They can provide advice and information about drug and alcohol issues and how to access other services. Many advice and information services can also provide some on-going support and counselling where required.
Access to structured treatment services (such as detox, rehab and prescribing programmes) often requires a professional referral from another agency. However, local advice and information services are generally well placed to assist clients in accessing these more structured/intensive services - and the helplines listed above can also give general advice on this issue. GPs can also often provide similar help and advice, in particular in relation to prescribing interventions (such as methadone) and many GPs do offer prescribing services themselves without the need for a specialist referral. In addition, some detox and rehab services can also be accessed directly by those in a position to pay privately.
Finally, there is a wide range of self help support services throughout the UK. Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon, for example, cater for people with alcohol problems, and their families & friends respectively. Likewise, Narcotics Anonymous is for people with drug problems in general, Cocaine Anonymous is for people with problems with cocaine, and Families Anonymous is aimed at the friends and families of drug users. Each of these is based on the "12-step approach" to understanding and dealing with drug and alcohol problems. Smart Recovery is another self help organisation, covering both drugs and alcohol (as well as a variety of other issues). It applies a "cognitive-behavioural approach". And the Down Your Drink website provides an online programme for people wishing to cut down their alcohol intake.
Talk to Frank provides an on-line directory of local drug and alcohol services throughout the UK. FDAP has an on-line directory of people individuals offering counselling and support in private practice, and Drink & Drugs News (DDN) publish a directory of residential services in the UK.
- Addiction Helper - free help for anyone affected by addiction with advice on both NHS & private drug and alcohol treatment options - t: 0203 131 8327; w: www.addictionhelper.com.
- Al-Anon - self-help support organisation for families and friends of people with alcohol problems - t: 020 7402 0888; w: www.hexnet.co.uk/alanon/.
- Alcoholics Anonymous - self-help organisation for people dependent on alcohol - t: 020 7833 0022; w: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk.
- Alcohol Focus Scotland - for general alcohol advice & help finding services in Scotland - t: 0141 572 6700, e: firstname.lastname@example.org, w: www.alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk.
- Cocaine Anonymous - self-help organisation for people dependent on cocaine - t: 0800 612 0225; w: www.cauk.org.uk.
- Counselling Directory - Free and confidential service encouraging those in distress to seek help - t: 0844 8030 240; w: www.counselling-directory.org.uk.
- Drink & Drugs News residential directory - for hardcopy directory of UK residential services - click here.
- Down Your Drink - online programme for people wishing to reduce their alcohol intake - w: www.downyourdrink.org.uk.
- Drinkline - for general alcohol advice and help finding relevant services in England and Wales - t: 0800 917 8282.
- Families Anonymous - self-help organisation for families & friends of people with drug problems - t: 020 7498 4680; w: www.famanon.org.uk.
- FDAP practitioner directory - for list of FDAP members providing support services in private practice - w: click here.
- Health Promotion Agency - for general drugs and alcohol advice & help finding services in N. Ireland - t: 028 9031 1611, w: www.healthpromotion.ie/.
- Know the Score - for general drugs advice and help finding services in Scotland - t: 0800 5875879, w: www.knowthescore.info.
- Narcotics Anonymous - self-help organisation for people with drug dependencies - t: 020 7730 0009; w: www.ukna.org.
- National Treatment Agency - for written guidance about drug treatment - click here.
- Release - for drugs support and advice with particular focus on legal and human rights issues - t: 0845 4500 215, w: www.release.org.uk.
- Talk to Frank - for general drugs advice and help finding drug & alcohol services throughout the UK, plus online directory of services - t: 0800 776600, e: email@example.com, w: www.talktofrank.com.
- Wales Drug & Alcohol helpline (DAN 24/7) - for general drugs advice and help finding drug & alcohol services throughout Wales - t: 0808 808 2234, w: www.dan247.org.uk