Federation of Drug & Alcohol Practitioners
Substance Misuse Management in General Practice (SMMGP)

Getting Help

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.

Structured treatment

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.

Self help

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.

Online directories

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.

Contact details & links

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