Drug or alcohol problems

Do you…

  • Find yourself using more drugs and/or alcohol to achieve the same effects?
  • Notice that your family and friends seem to be concerned about your drug use or drinking?
  • Find that you have been using alcohol or drugs to help you manage feelings of stress?
  • Find that you are worrying about being in control of your drug or alcohol use?

What are drug and alcohol problems?

Drug or alcohol misuse is a common difficulty affecting many people. Often it is characterised by having to use more drugs or alcohol, more frequently. These difficulties are linked to some of the following:

  • Feeling down and/or anxious
  • Financial difficulties
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating and tummy cramps
  • Cravings or urges to drink or use drugs
  • Difficulties in relationships with family, friends and partners
  • Health problems including head aches and pains
  • Decreased motivation to do things
  • Avoidance of day to day tasks such as opening post and house-hold chores
  • Increased risk of health problems such as liver cirrhosis, heart problems or cancer
  • Memory difficulties and lack of concentration

Often people find that their difficulties may lead them to withdraw from social contact (seeing your family and friends). You may also find yourself spending more time with people who also use drugs or alcohol. This can sometimes lead to feelings of guilt and can lower your confidence and mood.

How common is it?

Problems with alcohol affects up to 24% of the population in England while drug abuse occurs in almost 9% of the population.

What can I do about it?

Treatments that have shown to be effective are dependent on the type of drug or alcohol use. However, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence  has recommended that psychological therapies and medication can be helpful. Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from one of these types of treatment or a combination of the two.

IMPORTANT: Before making changes in your drug or alcohol use it is important to consult your GP or another professional. This is because in some cases, it can be dangerous to stop using drugs or alcohol if your body is dependent on them.


How do I get help?

Please speak to your GP about the treatment options that may be available to you.

Within Camden and Islington there are a range of services available to support people who experience difficulties linked to drug or alcohol use. These include CGL who are an organisation that support people who use drugs and alcohol. You can refer yourself to this service by contacting them directly via phone or email. Please see the relevant websites below:

For drugs support in Camden: http://www.changegrowlive.org/content/184

For alcohol support in Camden: http://www.changegrowlive.org/content/alcohol-service-camden

For drugs and/or alcohol support in Islington:https://www.candi.nhs.uk/our-services/better-lives-islingtons-drug-and-alcohol-service

How can I help myself?

You can start to monitor your substance use using the following tips:

If possible get someone (a friend/relative) to help you create a plan and stick to it.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will I benefit if I cut down on my drinking/drug use?
  • How will my life improve?

Start to keep a consumption diary including your substance use, where you were and what you were doing, as well as you how feel afterwards. This will help you with the next tip.

Start to identify ‘high risk situations’ in which you are more likely to drink or use drugs, e.g. parties, the pub, boredom, particular people, low mood/stress, after work, etc. Then, think about what you could do to deal with those situations: e.g. by avoiding or coping with it. Also identify ‘low risk situations’ to create times when you are less likely to drink/use drugs.

Start to practice some of the above and then review how you get on. Remember that not all solutions will work, and it is fine to go back and try an alternative way of dealing with ‘high risk situations’.

Online Support


An online treatment and recovery programme.


An interactive website with advice and information, including a 6-week computerised course to help cut back drinking.

Support Groups

Narcotics Anonymous – http://www.ukna.org/

Alcoholics Anonymous – www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Smart Recovery Group for all addictions – http://www.smartrecovery.org.uk/

Acknowledgement of references