Information for the public

What happens at your first appointment to discuss your drug problem

What happens at your first appointment to discuss your drug problem

At your first appointment you will be asked about your physical and mental health, any issues around your relationships and employment, and your drug use. You will also be asked whether you have had any treatment in the past for a drug problem and whether this helped. You should be asked to provide a urine or saliva sample.

Your preferences for treatment are important. When you are agreeing a plan for your care, staff should talk to you about the various options. They should discuss what you hope to achieve through treatment (your 'treatment goals') and help you come to a decision. Possible treatments include:

  • those that help you to stop taking drugs altogether (this is called abstinence-based treatment)

  • those that help you to reduce the risks you may be taking in using illegal drugs (called harm reduction)

  • taking an opioid substitute (such as methadone or buprenorphine) if you are dependent on heroin (this is called maintenance treatment).

You may also be offered detoxification if you are dependent on opioids (see Opioid detoxification) and/or treatment in residential rehabilitation (see Where you can have treatment for your drug problem). You should be treated by staff who have been fully trained in giving the treatment.

Throughout your treatment and care, you should be helped to identify situations or moods when you are more likely to take drugs. You should be offered help to find other ways of coping at these times.

You should be given information and advice about protecting yourself from blood-borne viruses (such as HIV and hepatitis B and C). This should include reducing risky injecting and sexual behaviour. You may be offered tests for these viruses.

You should have access to a wide range of services for your drug problem. Because more than one person might be involved in your care (for example, staff from drug services, other medical services and social care services), a care plan should be developed with you that names the various people responsible for your treatment and identifies which parts of your care they are involved in.

You should be assigned a key worker who will help to coordinate your care plan and ensure that you receive a good standard of care.

If you are legally required to have treatment for your drug problem, you should have the same treatment options as people who decide to start treatment themselves.

Your family and carers

Staff should talk to you about whether you would like your family or carers involved in your assessment and treatment plans. However, you can keep information about your care and treatment confidential if you wish to.

There is more information for families and carers in Supporting families and carers.