What to do if you need help with alcohol and other drugs


​If you want to cut down or stop your use of alcohol, would like to gain more knowledge around different drugs, or just have a few general questions about alcohol and other drugs, it can be difficult to know who to talk to.

Talking about drugs and alcohol when you may be experiencing issues is especially hard. Decades of criminalisation has resulted in judgement and shame surrounding drug use, which often stops people looking for help and accessing treatment.

Often people looking for support are worried about being judged or that their questions will not be confidential. In reality, there are many confidential services, helplines and organisations in NSW and the rest of Australia that can help those with drug or alcohol issues by focusing on the person, not their substance use.

How do I know if treatment is needed?

If your drug or alcohol use is negatively impacting on your health, family, relationships, work, school or other social situations, you may need to seek help. Support services are available for you, your family and friends.

Professional treatment

If you're trying to reduce or stop your use of substances, seeking professional help can be a good idea.

Drug and alcohol services can include one-on-one counselling, group work, drug withdrawal programs, and rehabilitation programs. Counsellors at these services can provide advice to help you choose the type of support to suit your needs.

All drug and alcohol services for people 18 and over are confidential.

Can I get treatment for free?

Free drug and alcohol services are available. Some services are covered by Medicare, while other services will charge a fee. If you visit a private clinic you will require a referral for treatment from your GP, but most publicly-funded services accept self-referrals.

What if I just want to talk to someone?

To talk to someone about alcohol and other drugs call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) on 1800 250 015. It is a free, 24-hour phone service available across New South Wales, offering information, support and advice for people seeking help to stop or reduce their drug use.

The ADIS service provides information, treatment referrals, crisis counselling, and support for illegal drugs like heroin, ice and cannabis, as well as legal drugs such as alcohol. ADIS can also give you contact information to help you access treatment services. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) translational services can also be provided via ADIS.

For families and friends of those using drugs, contact Family Drug Support (FDS). FDS is an organisation that provides support and assistance to families throughout Australia who are dealing with a family member who is using drugs.

Is ADIS confidential?

Yes. Callers are not identified and calls are not recorded. ADIS will not ask your name or any identifying information, unless you would like to be contacted later for follow up. They may ask for information including your postcode, or age range for purposes like service planning, however you don't have to give this information if you don't want to.

Calls are not recorded and your number will not come up on the ADIS receiving phone when you ring.

However, like all health workers ADIS must report any calls regarding child abuse to community services. They have a duty of care to protect callers and others from harm, for example if someone is having suicidal thoughts or is likely to commit violence. ADIS is also obliged to report serious crimes that are reported to them.

To assess whether your drinking habits are putting you at risk take our alcohol risk assessment.

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