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Durham County Council

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Drugs and alcohol


The signs that someone has significant health or social problems as a result of alcohol or other drug use will depend on what drug they are taking or how much alcohol they consume. This page provides advice and information on alcohol and directs you to support services available in County Durham.

You can test whether you are drinking alcohol at a lower risk drinking level or not by using the NHS Choices: alcohol unit calculator.

County Durham drug and alcohol recovery services 

County Durham drug and alcohol recovery services are discreet and confidential. You can access them either via a GP referral or refer yourself. Contact us if you need help with your alcohol and/or drug use including party drugs, legal highs, or class A drugs.

You will be assessed and offered support and treatment by trained staff including nurses, counsellors, and recovery workers. One-to-one support is available with trained ex-service users as these people understand your needs.

If you feel ready to make changes to your drug and/or alcohol use you will be allocated a dedicated worker. Your worker will support you to make positive changes. The package of care and support will be personalised around your needs with recovery being the main objective. Your family/carer can also receive dedicated support.

Overcoming dependency requires a high level of personal responsibility, but is very seldom achieved without a supportive network for example family, friends or recovery community.

Services provided are free. Some services we provide (for example residential rehabilitation, day or domiciliary care services) may require a financial contribution from the individual. Get your care needs assessed to see the amount you will have to pay.

Help and support

If you are concerned about your drinking or worried about a family member or friend - help and support is available.  Use links below for help and support:

When the effects of alcohol go too far, it can have negative impacts on health, crime and anti-social behaviour. You can read more about these effects and some of the work being done in County Durham in the following links:

  • Alcohol statistics provides information on local alcohol statistics for our area.
  • Alcohol - types of drinking gives information on the different classifications of drinking such as lower-risk, increasing-risk, and higher-risk drinkers.
  • Designated public place order application process has been developed for the county.

Useful links

The following websites provide more information on drugs, alcohol, treatment services and national policy:

  • NHS Choices: drugs - Find out more about the effect drugs can have on your health, and hear from people who have taken drugs about their experiences.
  • NHS Choices: Drinking and alcohol - Calculate your units, read about the health risks of drinking too much alcohol and find out where to get help and support.
  • Change4Life: don't let drink sneak up on you - Cutting down on alcohol doesn't have to be hard. Use the simple drinks checker and get tips on ways to cut back.
  • The Talk to Frank: drugs A to Z on the Talk to Frank website is an easy-to-use guide on illegal drugs, their effects and their risks.
  • Find out more about how to approach drug use with your child on the NHS Choices: talking about drugs with your child page.
  • Get help, support and advice from Adfam the leading national organisation working with and for families affected by drugs and alcohol.
  • Rehab Online is a directory of residential rehabilitation services for adult drug and/or alcohol misuses in England and Wales. It will give you information about these services, whether you are a member of the public, a professional or a service user.

Mutual aid organisations

Mutual aid improves drug and alcohol treatment and its recovery orientation, say NICE (2007 and 2011) and the report of the Recovery Orientated Drug Treatment Expert Group (2012). Treatment providers and key workers who actively help service users to access and engage with mutual aid are likely to see better outcomes.

Background to services

As part of the health reforms, we are now responsible for the commissioning of community based alcohol and drug misuse services as outlined in the guidance Public Health in Local Government - Commissioning Responsibilities (December 2013). The accountability for the work to tackle alcohol and drugs is with the Safe Durham Partnership Board and Health and Wellbeing Board.

To ensure that we have a service model which is integrated, recovery focused, evidence based, cost-effective and delivers on key outcomes, we undertook a review of all alcohol and drug services. Please find briefings below which will give you more information on the review that took place.