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

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
narcotics anonymous preview

Narcotics Anonymous

Regular support groups all over the country for people with an addiction to drugs.
Visit the site
NA meeting search app screenshot in a phone

NA Meeting search app

Find your nearest Narcotics Anonymous meeting, anywhere around the world.
Download the app from
  • Download from the app store
  • Download from google play
cociane anonymous website preview

Cocaine Anonymous

Groups across the country where you can share your experience of managing or recovering from a cocaine addiction.
Visit the site
fridaymonday preview

Friday/Monday

Information about sex and drugs, and reducing harm, for gay and bisexual men.
Visit the site
release website preview

Release

Harm reduction advice for different drugs and information around drug law and your rights.
Visit the site
drugfam preview

Drugfam

Support for families, friends and partners affected by someone else’s addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Visit the site
talk to frank website preview

Talk to Frank

Information about drugs, their effects and the law.
Visit the site
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.