Family doctors.

The family doctor sometimes called the General Practitioner or GP is the cornerstone of health services in the UK. GPs should be able to offer you help and advice on any family health issue including drug problems.

They can give you or your son or daughter advice about drugs and drug taking and they may already be involved in providing treatment for drug users. Sometimes GPs may work with local specialist services and/or prescribe substitute or maintenance drugs such as methadone. The GP should certainly have information on local specialist drug services. Drug users also have basic health needs, they get ill from time to time like everyone else and need GP services.

However, some GPs will have been through their training before drug problems became widely known in the UK. Even today GP training does not always deal adequately with the drugs issue. There has been research into the services provided by GPs as a whole for drug users and the reports from this research show that unfortunately the GP service is sometimes very poor at working with drug users.

Despite this there are many GPs who have made the effort to inform themselves and provide an excellent service. The problem is that you will not know until you ask them if your family doctor is one of those who can provide a good service or is one of the others.

If you need to you can always change your GP or even if you don't change them you might want to go elsewhere for specialist drug advice or support. Fortunately, there is a range of other services available. See the panel for details on other more specialist services. You could also ring the (National Drugs Helpline) for details of local services.