Managing drug or alcohol use when accessing mental health support

Here's how to manage your drug and alcohol use if you're looking to make a change to your mental health.

Drugs, alcohol and mental health

It is common to find that if you are struggling with your mental health, you may also be using drugs, or drinking alcohol, in a way which you don’t feel is helpful.

It's often difficult to know what came first. Do you use substances because you don’t feel mentally well? Or do you not feel mentally well because you use substances? 

This catch-22 situation is one many people can find themselves in, and knowing where to start in addressing this can feel overwhelming. 

How to address challenges with drugs and alcohol

If you are receiving support for your mental health, or you are about to start accessing support for your mental health, it's important to be open with your mental health practitioner about any substance use you believe may be affecting you or your mental wellbeing. 

Here at WithYou, we won’t push you into accessing treatment or tell you to stop, but we can help you understand the ways drugs and alcohol can exacerbate mental health problems. It also helps us plan out the best package of support for you. 

Of course, if you do want to address your drug or alcohol use, then there are lots of ways we can support you. This includes:

Information, advice and self-help

Your Mental Health Practitioner will be able to provide you with information and advice on how to manage your drug or alcohol use in order to get the best from the mental health support you are receiving. This might include tips on cutting down, advice on staying safe, or information about the different services that are available to you in your local area. 

If you would like to take steps to cut down your substance use yourself, then we have a wide range of self-help resources available through our website.

If you're unsure which resources might be right for you, you can discuss this with your Mental Health Practitioner who will be able to point you in the right direction. 

In some cases, we can also provide you with access to online digital programmes that you can complete at home. 

It’s important to note that if you use drugs or alcohol regularly and stop suddenly, you may experience significant withdrawal symptoms. If this is the case for you, it’s important to get further advice as you may need medical assistance. If you are feeling particularly poorly, please contact your local treatment service, call NHS 111, or if necessary, please attend A&E.

Specialist support

If you feel you need support to stop, or reduce, your drug or alcohol use then we are here to help. Our treatment options for drugs and treatment options for alcohol pages provide further information about the different support options available when addressing any substance use, and the different ways we work. You may also be interested to read our page on improving your mental health through our drug and alcohol support services.  

We understand that making the decision to access support for substance misuse can be a difficult one, so we make the experience as comfortable as possible. We offer different ways for you to connect with us - you can come to our buildings but we can also meet you in a community location or deliver your appointments digitally. We also offer flexibility in appointment times, understanding that many people have work and family commitments. 

If you are ready to make an appointment, or if you would just like to chat to someone about how you are feeling and any concerns you have, then we are ready to help. 

We don’t deliver specialist substance use support in all areas, but you can use our service finder to see if we do. This provides details of our local services and the different ways you can get in touch with us. If we don’t deliver in your local area, then there will be a provider who does. You can contact your local council to find out who your local provider is, or speak to your Mental Health Practitioner. 

You can also chat to one of our trained substance use workers via webchat. We’re online between 9am and 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday. You can still message us outside of these hours and we will get back to you as soon as we open again.