Things to think about

Make sure your efforts to quit or cut back are successful, by thinking ahead. You'll need to plan for things like getting support, dealing with cravings, and the types of withdrawal symptoms you may experience.

It’s OK to talk

Talking about your feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, reaching out and talking to someone you trust is one of the bravest – and best - things you can do. When battling addiction, talking should be the first strategy in your toolbox.

You need to find one person you can talk to. It’s really important to make sure the person you choose is someone you can trust not to tell other people. You need to know you can feel secure to tell them what’s happening without worrying that they’ll gossip. It’s also vital that they don’t have a vested interest in your drug use.

If you are having trouble figuring out who to confide in, call the Alcohol Drug Helpline.

Familiar places and faces

One of the biggest obstacles to changing your drug use will be the urge to use when you:

  1. see the people you usually do drugs with, and
  2. go back to places where you’ve always used

It will be very difficult to stop using drugs if everyone around you is still into it. Walking away from a group of friends is very hard, but to give yourself the best chance of making positive changes in your life, leaving behind old using friends will be necessary.

To give yourself the best chance of change, you will also want to avoid your usual hangouts. 


Many drug users experience cravings when they are coming off drugs. Cravings will pass. One strategy is to wait 30 minutes before you act on any craving. Find ways to distract yourself — go for a walk, call a support person, watch TV or read.


Depending on the drugs you’ve been using, and how much you’ve been using, you might experience withdrawal symptoms when you first give up. Even though these symptoms could be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous and they will pass.

The most common psychological symptoms are:

  • irritability
  • urges to use (cravings)
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • anger
  • confusion

Physical symptoms may include:

  • sleep problems
  • restlessness
  • loss of appetite
  • tremors
  • night sweats
  • diarrhoea

Withdrawal symptoms are positive signs. They actually show that the body is recovering and adapting to freedom from dependence on drugs.

This is important: don’t put all of your discomfort down to withdrawals!

Listen to your body. If you’re worried or suspect that you may have a serious medical condition, don’t just put it down to the withdrawal from drugs. Talk to your doctor or a medical professional as soon as possible.

It can be a good idea to tell your GP you are giving up drugs so they can keep an eye on your health and let you know if any of what you consider withdrawal symptoms are actually unrelated health issues.

Managing withdrawal

To manage withdrawal and the symptoms of craving, try the following strategies:

  • distraction: Try and think about something else, or do something, that will take your mind off your symptoms
  • delay: If you have an urge to smoke, delay your decision to act on this. The feeling will usually pass in about 15 minute
  • look after yourself: Drink lots of water, go for slow, easy walks, eat healthy meals.
  • decatastrophise: This means stop thinking that withdrawal is worse than it really is. Remind yourself this is not the end of the world and that the feelings will pass
  • de-stress: This is about relaxation. Do something that will help you relax e.g. go for a walk, have a warm bath, lie on the floor and listen to calm music. Drink more water, less coffee.

Most of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will come and go, like your urges to use. Stick with it, they do pass. Try to get as much sleep as possible even though it may be difficult at first.

TOP TIP: Consider gradually cutting down prior to quitting.

This might mean delaying the first session of the day by 4-5 hours each day or reducing the amount you use by 20 percent each day. It helps to monitor your symptoms as it is gratifying to notice that they reduce in intensity quite quickly.

Some strategies people use to help with withdrawal include: working more, going to school, taking the dog for a daily walk, cooking meals, taking up gardening, community work.

BenYou don’t realise how much it’s consumed you until you’re clean.

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Tips for making changes

  • Write down how drugs are affecting your life. The focus on how good things can be once you can overcome your addiction.

  • Decide on the reasons why you want to quit or cut down. It may be for your children, money or your health.

  • Seek support from friends and family. It is difficult to quit or cut down by yourself.

  • Don't rely on someone else to quit or cut down with you.

  • Stop spending time with people who use drugs, to avoid temptation.

  • Understand what triggers your drug use, so you can start avoiding them.

  • Take care of your body, eat healthy, exercise and freshen up where you are living.

  • Set manageable goals that you can stick to.

  • If you end up using drugs after you have quit, don't panic, address the issue straight away before it sprials out of control.

  • Boredom is the first step to relapse, so find ways to keep busy.

  • Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.

  • You always pass failure on your way to success.

  • Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.

  • Our greatest battles are with our own minds.

  • Give yourself something to work towards - constantly.

  • Half the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.

  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

  • The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.

  • Be gentle to all and stern with yourself.

  • There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.

  • There's more than one way to cut back or quit, take a look around at different recovery options.

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They were really respectable. They had money and they were wearing suits. They didn’t look like people who were losers, so I thought well, that’s who I want to be. If they can do it, I can.