What treatments are available?

If you are concerned that your drug use is affecting your mental health, you could go to see a family doctor, or you may be able to go straight to your local street drugs service. They can discuss any issues, explain your options for treatment and refer you to a specialist if necessary. If you want help to stop taking drugs, you could also contact a drug organisation for information and support (see ‘Useful contacts’).

While you may be anxious about discussing your use of street drugs with your doctor, your treatment is likely to be more successful if they have all the information about your drug use. Therefore, it is important to be honest about your use of drugs. For example, a doctor may be less likely to prescribe antipsychotic medication if they know that your psychosis may have been caused by a street drug (see ‘Medication’).

Before you start any treatment, your doctor should discuss your options with you, and take your opinions into account.

  • All treatment should be person-centred and take into account your individual needs and preferences, as well as your cultural background and any special needs you may have
  • You should have a support worker to coordinate your care plan, build a good therapeutic relationship with you, and discuss your options with you.
  • You should be offered ‘motivational interviewing’ and ‘contingency management’, which aim to encourage you to stop taking street drugs
  • You should be offered a talking treatment if you are being treated for heroin addiction with methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone

Talking treatments

Depending on the effects on your mental health, you may be offered a talking treatment, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). If you have a partner, and both you and your partner use street drugs, you may also be offered couples therapy.


Medication is unlikely to help with mental health problems that are directly caused by your use of alcohol or street drugs. For example, if you experience psychosis as the result of taking a street drug, antipsychotic drugs may not be effective. SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants are not effective for treating depression caused by using ecstasy.

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