Getting help with drug or alcohol problems

Your doctor can help you get advice and a referral to services that help with drug or alcohol problem. Some support services accept self-referrals from people misusing alcohol or other substances.

Help in an emergency when someone has taken alcohol

Alcohol is a drug and has strong effects. If you notice someone who has drunk alcohol and is behaving in a way that makes you anxious about their safety, the safety of those around them, or who has become very ill from drinking alcohol, take the following steps:

  • tell them you're concerned about their safety
  • telephone 999 and ask for an ambulance or help from the police
  • make sure the person's airways aren't blocked, for example by vomit, and check they haven't swallowed their tongue
  • don't let them fall asleep without someone watching them
  • don't let them leave or walk alone
  • don't let them drive - take their car keys if possible
  • get help from the police or paramedics as quickly as you can

Help in an emergency when someone has taken drugs

Look out for danger signs if you or other people have taken drugs, including:

  • overheating
  • dizziness
  • sickness
  • sudden tiredness
  • headaches
  • cramps and aching arms and legs

People on drugs showing these symptoms or looking distressed could have had an allergic reaction to the drug they've taken, or may have overdosed. It's important to take the following steps immediately:

  • get help and be honest about all drugs they've taken
  • telephone 999 and ask for an ambulance
  • clearly and calmly say where the patient is, what drugs they've taken and what their symptoms are
  • if instructed to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, put the patient into the recovery position or do something else to save the person's life
  • make sure the person's airways aren't blocked, for example by vomit, and check they haven't swallowed their tongue
  • collect evidence of any drugs they may have taken as doctors need this important information to give the best treatment
  • collect containers that drugs were kept in, including wrappers, packets, cling film, tin foil and syringes, and get a small sample of vomit if the person was sick
  • stay until the ambulance arrives


Getting help in your area

There are local dedicated drug and alcohol support services, providing help to people with drug and alcohol problems.

If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs and want information about support services near you, go to:


If you need help because you're misusing alcohol or other substances, you can refer yourself to get help and support. Check support and advice services in your area that accept self-referrals. 

Support for family members

There is support and advice for people affected by a family member's substance misuse even if that person isn't receiving treatment. 

Mental health services for drug or alcohol problems

There are different mental health services available across Northern Ireland to deal specifically with drug and alcohol-related problems.

For information about statutory, voluntary and community mental health organisations, go to:

More useful links

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