Tips for cutting down or stopping your drug use

If you’re worried about your drug use, and want to make some positive changes, we’re here to help.

Addressing your drug use can help you to be happier, safer and healthier. Here are some steps you can take.

It can be hard to take that first step and take a look at your drug use, but it can have a big impact on how healthy and happy you are.

Any drug can become problematic, whether it’s cocaine, prescription painkillers or cannabis. You don’t have to be taking drugs every day for it to be an issue, either. Dependence on a drug can be physical, psychological or both.

You might have noticed that you can’t do everyday things without using first, or maybe you have experienced some kind of withdrawal when you’re not using.

Other people might have seen a change in your behaviour, or you might have started taking risks that put your health or safety in danger.

Whatever the reason, change is possible with the right support.

Things to think about before you start

If you’re thinking of taking steps to stop taking drugs or cut down, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It’s much easier to make positive changes when you’ve got help and support from other people.

You could:

  • Speak to your doctor about your worries. They’ll be able to give you advice and useful information.
  • If you can, talk to family and friends about your drug use. Asking for help can make a big difference, especially in the first few weeks.
  • Find your nearest drug service. You can search for your nearest service and look at treatment options further down the page.
  • Join a peer support group like Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous.

If you have a dependency, please speak to a professional before stopping using suddenly, so you can carefully manage any withdrawal symptoms. 

Find your local service
Drug treatment options

How you can start to reduce or quit taking drugs

Once you’ve made your decision, try these steps to address your drug use:

  • Keep a drug diary. Make a note of when you use, what you take, and how much. It’s also worth including where you were, who you were with, and what you’d been doing just before.
  • See if you can spot any patterns in your diary. You might always use around particular people, or after heavy drinking, for example.
  • If you can figure out the people, places and things that trigger your drug use, you can begin to make a plan. You might want to cut some triggers out entirely, or avoid any combinations that give you cravings.
  • Take your time if you need to. Gradual reduction is often the best way to quit.
  • Be kind to yourself and celebrate each step towards your goal, no matter how small. Don’t feel guilty about any setbacks either. It's a process and every challenge is an opportunity to learn more about yourself. 
  • If you start having cravings, distract yourself for a few minutes. Mindfulness or meditation apps and videos like this one are good distractions.
  • Have a look at the NHS’s ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’. They could help you to feel calmer and more relaxed when you find yourself craving drugs.

Always remember that you’re not alone. There’s lots of support online and other people who are in a similar position to you. Take a look at the links below for more support.


Get help, advice and support

Useful websites and apps

al anon website preview


Support groups for families and friends of people with an alcohol addiction.
Visit the site
aa website preview

Alcoholics Anonymous

Regular support groups all over the country for people with an addiction to alcohol.
Visit the site
breaking free online preview

Breaking Free Online

Free, online treatment and recovery program for anyone addicted to alcohol or drugs. Speak to any member of staff or volunteer at your local service to get access.
Visit the site
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
aa 12 steps app screenshot in a phone

AA 12 Steps app

Companion app for AA’s 12 step programme.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
smart recovery website preview

SMART Recovery

Self-help recovery programmes that include help with alcohol and drug addiction.
Visit the site
drinks meter app screenshot

Drinks Meter app

Keep track of your drinking and get instant feedback and advice.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
sober grid app screenshot in a phone

Sober Grid app

Connect and chat anonymously with other people in recovery from around the world.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
happify app screenshot in a phone

Happify app

Activities and games to help reduce stress and improve your mental health.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
sam app screenshot in a phone

SAM app

Understand and manage your anxiety with self-help exercises.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
The apps above are produced and owned by third parties. We make no guarantees that the information within them is accurate or up to date. Please get professional healthcare advice before taking any action.