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People who misuse or are dependent on drugs and alcohol may be at increased risk of becoming infected, and infecting others, with COVID-19. They may also be more vulnerable to the impact of infection with the virus, due to underlying conditions.

Regardless of the COVID-19 threat level, drug and alcohol services continue operating as usual (to ensure the protection of potentially vulnerable people)

Image of Sad young man sitting in the corner of the room

Key concerns during home isolation include the increased use of alcohol and cocaine, and the use of both drugs in combination.

There are also concerns regarding:

  • addiction – the continued use of a drug in spite of the consequences and/or being unable to stop
  • and dependency – where the body builds a high tolerance for the drug which leads to larger or more frequent dosesand/or when physical symptoms of withdrawal are apparent if attempting to stop using

For anyone concerned about their own, or a family or friends, use of drugs – contact our local rehabilitation team for practical, confidential advice:

You can also read more information on their website:

Teenagers can visit the website:

Key symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • muscle and/or head aches, with general tiredness
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

These symptoms may also be confused with withdrawal symptoms in a dependent drug or alcohol user. Anyone with symptoms that could be COVID-19 should be assumed to be infected, tested for the virus and treated according to the results. If in doubt, call 111.


The legality of a drug does not make it harmless.
[Read more on Alcohol or Tobacco].

Drugs that are controlled by law, have a high risk of abuse and physical or psychological harm.

All medications should be taken following the advice of a healthcare professional.

Self-medication is defined as the selection and use of medicines to treat self-recognized or self-diagnosed conditions or symptoms. There can be benefits to appropriate self-medication, including the immediate relief of symptoms, the active role of the patient in their own care, and a reduced burden on health care services due to treating minor conditions. However, self-medication is not in itself a safe practice.

If you are unsure how to treat a health concern, or you have noticed worsening of symptoms despite self-care attempts get advice. Call the 111 line, or get a GP appointment 200 52441.

The concerning and potentially dangerous risks of self-medication include:

  • incorrect self-diagnosis and drug use
  • dangerous drug interactions
  • delays in seeking medical advice when it is needed
  • adverse reactions or side effects to medication taken
  • the risk of dependence and drug abuse

For more info on COVID-19: guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol