Drugs, Alcohol and Coronavirus

Thinking of stopping, In recovery and struggling, Stay Safer (Alcohol), Stay Safer (Drugs and Other Substances)

Thinking of stopping?

Is this advice for me? 

The current guidlindes to keep alcohol related risk low to not drink more than 14 units a week. Check your drinking with Alcohol Change’s free tool

 IMPORTANT: Self-detoxing alcohol at home without medical support isn’t advised. There is much uncertainty in the alcohol detox process, including the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you experience withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea or headache after several hours without a drink, please do not stop drinking suddenly. Withdrawal from alcohol should never be underestimated, as it can become a serious medical situation. 

If have experienced one of the following symptoms after stopping or reducing your alcohol intake;

  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Headache

this could be a symptom of alcohol withdrawal. If you recognise any of these symptoms or are concerned about your drinking, please call NHS 111 or Project 6 on 01535 610180. We will beable to carry out an assessment of your drinking over the phone and offer advice and guidance on how to manage this in the safest way.

If you experience a seizure or begin to see or hear things that others cannot seek emergency medical attention (999) immediately.

Assessing your alcohol consumption
Getting an accurate picture of how much you are currently drinking is very useful if you decide you want to access support to help you detox or reduce. You may know this already or easily be able to work it out from your buying routine.

If you are unsure, keeping a diary of your drinking for around 3 days should help.


The unit calculator below can be helpful for working out units. As soon as you’ve had each drink write it in your diary, try to be as accurate as possible.

Alcohol Change Unit Calculator

If possible, tell a trusted friend or family member if you can what your typical daily intake is. Even if you are not planning to make any changes to your drinking now, this may be important information for people involved in your care in the future.

Make sure you are eating regularly throughout the day, particularly if you find yourself throwing up. Try and eat healthy, balanced meals where possible. Having something to eat before you start drinking helps slow alcohol entering your bloodstream.

If you are struggling with food poverty Keighley Pathways will be able to offer support 01535 608631.

It’s always really important to stay hydrated. Alcohol is a diuretic which means to wee out much more liquid than you take in. Between each alcoholic drink try to drink a half pint of water.

It can be really difficult, particularly now when normal structures aren’t in place, to stick to normal night time routines. Try not to fall into the habit of both going to bed and getting up later. Inebriated sleep is not as restful as falling asleep naturally. You wake feeling more tired which will start to negatively impact on your mood and ability to function normally. Try to avoid sleep tablets.

Strength of beverages
The advice from government is to visit supermarkets and other shops as little as possible. It can therefore be tempting to buy ‘extra’ alcohol or to look for higher ABV wines and spirits. During this lockdown period try not to move to stronger drinks than you usually would drink. If you are worried you have developed an alcohol dependency, try to keep drinking at a similar level until you are able to speak to a healthcare professional for guidance.

Other useful advice for the NHS can be found here.

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Are you in recovery and struggling?

Is this advice for me?
If you have either stopped drinking or have already started to make significant changes to reduce your alcohol consumption or drug use the following section may be helpful to you. Coronavirus has meant huge disruptions to everyday life and normal support networks have changed or temporally stopped. It’s good to think about how you are going to manage this time and look for different ways to support yourself.

Call us and speak to your worker. We are here for you. Call us before you need us.

We have people with lots of experience who can support you. We know being isolated is really scary and especially difficult if you are in recovery and used to a big network of friendly faces.

We have telephone support, groups run digitally and even a SMART group on WhatsApp.

Other useful links 

SMART Recovery Online Meetings

Breaking Free online Speak to a member of Project 6 staff about signing up

There is lots of support avaliable online, if you are struggling you don’t need to be dealing with it alone

Listen to Scott and Jo speak to BBC Radio Sheffield about they are dealing with isolation and recovery.

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Stay Safer (Alcohol)

Mixing alcohol with some drug types is very dangerous and never beneficial. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and mixing it with anxiolytics like diazepam can cause respiratory depression

Keep track of how much your drinking with our drinks diary

Be aware that heavy drinking can cause you to alter perception and the boundaries of your usual behaviour and leave you vulnerable, even when you are at home

Many people suggest that it is better not to mix alcohol types particularly spirits

Change to a less potent regular drink (drink with a lower ABV)

Have something to eat before/ while drinking

Take your time over your drink, set a minimum amount of time from finishing one drink before pouring your next

Have alcohol free days. Hydrate yourself, water and fruit juice are good. Give your liver brain and body a day off!

Not playing or severely limiting getting involved in drinking games is sensible

Have smaller measures – 25ml instead of double, small glass of wine instead of large

Decide how much you are going to drink on an evening and stick to it. Only have that amount available in the house if you are struggling to keep to your limits

Salty snacks/nuts may make you thirsty and drink more

That last 150 mls in the bottle isn’t challenging you to drink it, if you don’t feel like it -don’t

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from Release.org.uk


Stay Safer (Drugs and Other Substances)

Viruses and bacteria including the common cold, flu and Hep C can be spread when people take drugs with unclean or shared equipment. To help prevent the spread good hygiene practices are essential.

The Needle Exchange in Keighley (6 Temple St, Keighley, BD21 2AD) is open 1pm-4.30pm, Mon-Fri (excluding bank holidays). They can provide clean needles and injecting equipment as well as advice and guidance to ensure you are able to use in the safest way possible.

Prepare your drugs yourself. Wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water and prepare your own drugs. Keep your surfaces clean and wipe them down before and after use, with microbial wipes, alcohol (at least 60%), or bleach. If you can’t prepare your own drugs, stay with the person who is. Get them to wash their hands thoroughly, and to clean up before and after.

Plan & prepare for overdose. Emergency services might be stretched in a COVID-19 outbreak, and slow to respond to 911 calls. Load up on naloxone and fentanyl testing strips. If you are alone, experiment with using less to lower your risk of OD, and go slowly. If you are using with others, make an OD plan with them and stagger use if possible. Store a breathing mask for use in case rescue breathing is needed.

Keep your space clean. Wipe down surfaces where you prepare drugs, before and after use, with antimicrobial wipes, alcohol (at least 60%), or bleach. Before and after handling drugs, wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, including after you purchase the drugs. Wipe down drug packages. Wipe down countertops, sinks, doorknobs, and any other surfaces that hands can touch.

Wash your hands. If you have access to clean water, wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds. (Sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice or the “ABC Song” once.) If you don’t have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60%). Wash after every time you are around other people, such as on public transportation, after purchasing drug packages, etc.

Stay clear if you’re sick. If you have symptoms or think you’re getting sick, don’t go to your local SSP. Hopefully you have enough of a stash to get through, but if not, does your SSP deliver? Are there secondary exchangers who can come by? If you have symptoms of COVID-19, get checked out by a doctor. If you have HIV or have a weakened immune system, it is particularly critical to remember to take all your medications daily.

Stock up on supplies. If you wish to reduce your visits to external agencies, check in with your local NEX to find out if they are willing to issue enough syringes and injecting equipment to last you 2 to 4 weeks. Note: Your local SSP may have syringe and supply shortages, so they may not be able to do this. Remember to store safely.

Stock up on medications. Access to prescription meds may be limited in an outbreak. Ask your medical provider about getting a full month’s supply if possible. Each provider is likely to have their own system in place for approaching this situation. If you take methadone/buprenorphine, ask your clinic or doctor to make a plan to prevent disruptions to your dose. Ask about their emergency plans for patients (refills over the phone, telehealth visits, etc.).

Prepare for a drug shortage. You might lose access to your drug of choice in an outbreak. Consider alternative drugs or medications that could help take the edge off. If facing potential opioid withdrawal, consider buying over the counter medications to make it less difficult (ibuprofen, Pepto-Bismol, Imodium). For opioid dependence, you can work with your local SSP to enrol with a local provider for buprenorphine or methadone

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from harmreduction.org

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Airedale Voluntary Drug and Alcohol Agency trading as Project 6 is a registered charity number 1173006 and a company limited by guarantee and registered in England and Wales number 3430925