This guideline covers targeted interventions to prevent misuse of drugs, including illegal drugs, ‘legal highs’ and prescription-only medicines. It aims to prevent or delay harmful use of drugs in children, young people and adults who are most likely to start using drugs or who are already experimenting or using drugs occasionally.

This guideline does not cover broader activities, both population-level (universal) and targeted, that aim to build people's skills, resilience and ability to make positive decisions about their health and which address the wider determinants of health. For more information, see the NICE guidance on lifestyle and wellbeing.

Additionally, this guideline does not cover treatment of drugs misuse (see the NICE guidelines on drug misuse: opioid detoxification and drug misuse: psychosocial interventions).

Recommendations

This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Health and social care professionals
  • Commissioners and providers
  • Practitioners working in drug misuse prevention and specialist drug treatment services
  • Owners and staff at venues attended by people using or at risk of using drugs (such as gyms, pubs, clubs or music events)
  • People responsible for educational governance
  • People who use drugs, their carers and families, and the public

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

NICE worked with Public Health England to develop this guidance.

This guideline updates and replaces NICE guideline PH4 (March 2007).

Next review: 2021

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.


Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.

  • Public Health England
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)