Drugs and alcohol help

There is help and treatment available in the borough for drug and alcohol users and their families and carers.

The dangers of alcohol and drugs


Drinking too much can cause serious health problems, as well as affecting your work, family and social life. These services are available to help.

Alcohol is readily available but you may be surprised that drinking relatively small quantities regularly can cause serious health problems as well as contributing to injuries.

Heavy drinking can affect your work and can cause problems for your family and friends. Children and partners are often affected by heavy drinking by a family member. Sometimes you may feel under pressure to drink heavily with your friends. There are some national and local services which can give you information about drinking, and which are available locally to support and help people who have problems with drinking. Some also offer support to families affected by drinking.


Sometimes people tell you some drugs are safe and won’t cause you harm. It’s important to have accurate information. You can get this in confidence and anonymously.

Asking for help is the first step, Barking and Dagenham provides a drug and alcohol service which will give you all the information that you need.

Local drug and alcohol services

Fighting drug and alcohol problems is hard, but there are services available locally to support you and your family.

It can be hard to know what to do if a friend or a member of your family is using drugs and/or alcohol. You can’t make other people’s decisions for them but you can try to help them to see that what they are doing isn’t good for them. The services below can offer help, advice and information. 

  • Subwize drug/alcohol service is available to young people under the age of 21 (with transitional age group of 21 to 24) who live in Barking and Dagenham or attend schools and colleges in the borough, as well as their families and carers. It works with young people in the community, at locations most accessible to them, such as schools, youth clubs and other local venues
  • St Luke’s drug and alcohol service is a confidential, free service for adults who live in Barking and Dagenham. It offers community interventions including health centres and local services that ensure that barriers to seeking treatment are removed and support is widely accessible

Treatment and recovery

If you have been taking certain drugs or drinking heavily for a long time, and you are finding it really difficult to stop, you might be addicted or dependent. This can be a physical as well as a psychological dependency. You might need specialist help in order to stop. This might include going through processes called detoxification and rehabilitation.

Detoxification (or detox) is a bit like cleaning your body. It has to be carried out in a controlled environment, sometimes a hospital. You will stop drinking or taking drugs altogether and you will be given medication to help your body deal with the withdrawal symptoms.

Rehabilitation can take anything between three to five months. The aim of rehabilitation is to help you return to normal life. It will involve group work and one-to-one counselling.

Needle exchange

Using shared or dirty needles can lead to serious health conditions such as HIV and hepatitis. As well as causing problems for you, you can infect other people and cause them harm. St Luke’s offer a needle exchange service which can protect these conditions from being spread. 

Supporting families of drug users

Many families in the UK are living with a loved one who is using or trying to come off drugs. It's a difficult situation for everyone involved, but help and support is available. 

Whether you're the parent, friend or partner of a person using or coming off drugs, there are some common issues you're likely to face.

It can be hard to accept that the person was or is taking drugs to begin with. When the reality sinks in, it can be difficult to know what to do first.

Recognising your role as a carer

You may not see yourself as a carer or someone with needs of their own. But caring for someone using or coming off drugs can be demanding. If you have someone in your household who is unable to stop using drugs, it can be very stressful, upsetting and frustrating.

Even if your loved one accepts that they have a problem and decides to stop taking drugs, you may need to help them get through the withdrawal and recovery period. There may be some difficult, emotional times during this process.

Sometimes the best option for carers is to let their loved one face the consequences of continuing their drug use. This can be tough as it's natural to want to rescue loved ones from the harmful effects of their addiction, such as poverty or ill health.

There are lots of support organisations that can help you care for someone using or coming off drugs. Carers often find that talking to someone who knows what they're going through is really helpful. This could be through workshops, one-to-one sessions with a specially trained counsellor, or simply talking to other carers.


Financial advice

As a carer, you may be entitled to financial help and other support.  Find out whether you can receive support. Benefits are available to both you and the person you are looking after, make sure you know exactly what these are 

Working and caring

If you work, find out about your rights in the workplace. You can also get help if you're out of work or a student. 

Taking a break

People in a caring role often find it difficult to take a break. Your local authority or a local support group may be able to provide respite care. Depending on your circumstances, this may be offered free of charge.

Young carers of drug users

If you have a caring role for a parent using drugs, you may need additional support.