There are many services available via the NHS to support you in overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. If you start to have concerns regarding your substance use, but cannot discuss them with your GP, self-referring means that you can still access the help you need.
NHS support services exist for a multitude of issues, from mental health to addiction. When you need advice, the first port of call would usually be your GP, as they will know your history and should know the best places to reach out to.
However, many people don’t feel comfortable discussing certain problems with their GP, or may have had a GP referral in the past that wasn’t quite right for them. In this case, it may be more suitable for you to complete a self-referral.
Self-referrals can be made by anyone, you will just need to give a bit of information about what you are currently struggling with, and during busy times you may be placed on a waiting list.
The services you can access by self-referring are no different to the ones your doctor would send you to, so you don’t need to worry about missing out if you really aren’t happy about seeing your GP first.
When you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, it can be difficult to admit when you need help. Once you acknowledge that there is a problem, it becomes much easier to get the support you need to overcome it.
There used to be different recommended drinking limits for men and women, but the UK Chief Medical Officer’s official guidance now states that no one should be drinking more than 14 units of alcohol per week.
This is roughly equivalent to 6 pints of beer, or 6 medium-sized glasses of wine. Anyone regularly drinking more than this amount each week puts themselves at increased risk of long-term illnesses such as liver disease, heart disease, and cancer.
If you find that you are often being compelled to drink more than this, that you are craving alcohol as soon as you wake up, or that you regularly injure yourself (or even others) while drunk, it is important to discuss it with a medical professional.
As well as the health problems, alcohol can cause a number of disruptions to our daily lives, including to our work and personal relationships. This means that, if friends and family members raise concerns about your drinking, they should be taken seriously.
The NHS have dedicated professionals available via self-referral for counselling and recovery support. They can coach you through cutting down your alcohol intake at a safe pace, so that you don’t subject yourself to severe withdrawal symptoms.
They may also recommend talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which works by analysing the root cause of your addiction, and can help you to combat the negative thoughts that encourage you to keep drinking.
There are many reasons why someone abusing drugs would not want to speak to their GP about it, but would still want to get some help. Particularly when people over-use prescribed medications, they may be reluctant to speak to their GP in case they change the prescription. However, even casual drug use can easily turn into an addiction, and the health concerns must not be ignored.
If you’re no longer in control of the type and amount of drugs you are taking, you may be suffering from an addiction. Tolerances can build up quickly, meaning that if you continue to abuse drugs you may need higher and higher doses in order to get the effects you are after, and this is where serious health problems can arise. Even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your GP about it, you will most likely need assistance from a professional in order to put a stop to the addiction.
Fortunately, there are self-referral options on the NHS for those who need to talk to someone about their drug addiction. You will be able to choose a therapy that works for you, whether that be one-on-one talking therapy, or group support sessions.
Below, we provide contact details for various drug and alcohol services in England: