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Alcohol and drug misuse

What is alcohol and drug misuse?

People develop problems with alcohol or drugs for a variety of reasons. This can cause difficulties for individuals, their health, their families, and at work, school, or college.

Problematic use of alcohol and drugs can range from occasional drug taking, drinking a bit too much a bit too often, regular heavy drinking, or binge drinking, drug bingeing to dependency and addiction. If you often drink more than the recommended lower risk alcohol guidelines, (No more than 14 units a week for men and women, spread over 3 or more days) take illegal drugs, New Psychoactive Substances or prescription drugs without a prescription, you may be misusing drugs or alcohol. Whether you are concerned about your own drinking or drug use or about a friend or family member, support is available to help you cut down, give up, or support someone else

Understanding Alcohol

No-one can say that drinking alcohol is absolutely safe, but by sticking within the recommended guidelines, you can lower your risk of harming your health.

If you regularly drink more than the recommended guidelines over a long period, there are the following risks:

  • men could be four times more likely to have high blood pressure
  • women could be three times more likely to suffer a stroke
  • liver damage, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer
  • cancer of the mouth, throat cancer, cancer of the oesophagus or larynx, and breast cancer in women
  • increased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • depression, memory loss, brain damage or dementia
  • stomach damage
  • potentially fatal alcohol poisoning.

To find out how many units are in your favourite drinks, you can download the free ‘One You’ drinks tracker app.

To find our whether you are drinking more than the recommended guidelines, take the two minute alcohol test.

Understanding Drugs

When people think about drugs, they tend to think about things like Heroin, Cocaine and Cannabis. There are many types of drugs that can cause people problems, however. They tend to be grouped together as follows:

Illicit substances

Prescription medication

Over-the-counter drugs

Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs

New Psychoactive Substances (NPS )

For more information about all the types of drugs listed above, visit the Talk To Frank website or ThinkDrinkDrugs

Things you can do

Take the alcohol test

Get support from family or friends

Think about why you drink or use drugs

Access support from DAWN: the Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Network

West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Recovery Service and other support options

DAWN, the West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Wellbeing Network, provides support to people of any age, who are looking to reduce or stop their drinking or use of drugs.

Young people aged up to 24 can contact the service via:

Text: 07779339954 (someone will ring you back).

Call: 0300 303 8677


Adults aged 25 and over can contact the service via:

Call: 0300 303 8677

Other support options: Alcohol

Tools and information: Alcohol

Other support options: Drugs

Tools and information: Drugs

Carers Support West Sussex

Carers Support West Sussex supports people who are affected by someone else's drinking or drug use. All services are confidential, and you can receive free information, advice and support. The network offers:

  • information about drugs and alcohol
  • local drop-in services and support groups
  • individual appointments, at a time and place that suit you
  • a quarterly newsletter.

For more information, please contact Carers Support West Sussex. Phone: 0300 028 8888.

Last reviewed: 05/09/2019

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