Drug advice and counselling agencies.
The names of these services vary from area to area. In some areas they are called Community Drug Teams or Drug Advice Services, but often they have names which are specific to the area they operate in, such as 'Merseyside Drugs Council'.
They offer a range of services both to those using drugs and to their families and friends. The services they offer can include:
* Information about drugs.
* Advice to drug users about drug risks.
* Counselling to drug users and/or their families.
* Syringe exchange.
* Outreach or 'detached' work in the community.
* Support for self-help groups.
* Referral to residential treatment services.
Their services can usually be offered over the telephone as well as seeing people face to face. Usually the services work on an appointment basis although some will offer a drop in facility. Most of these services will meet their clients mainly at the project base while others will visit clients in their homes. Some services have doctors who can prescribe substitute drugs.
These services are usually confidential which means that normally no information will be given to any outside agency without the permission of the client concerned. It is important to ask about exactly what confidentiality means however as most services will allow internal discussion between different workers about individual clients. In some cases services may come under pressure to disclose details to other services such as social work departments e.g. in cases involving risks of child abuse.
Services for young people.
Until recently, few of these drug specialist agencies worked with young people under the age of 16. Their main focus was with the older drug users especially those who inject drugs like heroin. Most of these services would be understandably reluctant to expose impressionable young new drug users to this older more 'streetwise' group of experienced users.
There are some new services which are particularly focused on the needs of young drug users although some will only see under 16s with parental consent.
Non-specialist young people's advice and counselling services.
These types of services exist in most areas and deal with a wide range of issues affecting young people, not just drug use. Local colleges, youth clubs or youth projects also sometimes offer similar confidential services for young people.