Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a form of counselling that helps you motivate yourself to improve your life by making goals, plans and changes to your behaviour. Since 2005, a programme, KISS (“Self-determined reduction of substance use” – [Kompetenz im Selbstbestimmten Substanzkonsum]), has been using these techniques in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In KISS, trained addiction professionals aim to empower drug users struggling to abstain completely to reduce their legal or illegal drug use. During 12 weekly individual or group sessions, items like keeping a consumption diary, weekly goal setting and identifying and coping with high risk situations are covered. KISS has been shown to help drug-dependent people successfully cut down their drug use and make improvements to their lives. Similar programmes may exist in your area. If you are interested in this type of support, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying your drug-using triggers and helping you to learn how to avoid them. It also teaches you coping and problem-solving skills to help you stop using drugs. CBT has been shown to help people control their drug use or even become abstinent. If you are interested in participating in CBT, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions
A. Recovery can mean different things to different people and it will depend on your goals. For some people, being recovered is when you are no longer using heroin and you are stable on medication. For others, recovery may be stopping use of all drugs altogether. You should think about what your goals are and how you will achieve them. Speaking to your doctor or a support group can help you with this.
A. Recovery capital refers to all the different resources that can be used to start and sustain recovery from drug use. It is suggested that people with access to recovery capital are better able to address their problem drug use. Recovery capital includes safe and secure accommodation, physical and mental health, purposeful activity (education, employment etc), peer support and community support.
A. There are a number of options available to you which you can explore in the choosing recovery section. Becoming completely abstinent can be very challenging and you will need willpower and support to reach your goals. If you have found a treatment option that appeals to you, it is important to discuss it with your doctor as they can offer you advice on your chosen method. Your doctor may not agree with you and have reasons as to why they believe a different method may be better. Having an open discussion and understanding each other’s reasons is an important step in finding the right treatment for you.
A. If you are unemployed and heroin dependent, you are entitled to welfare benefits. The government is keen to get drug users into treatment and back into employment, however, working while your drug use is not under control can be difficult. If you are interested in treatment to help you get a job, you can find your options in the choosing recovery section. Your doctor or a support group will also be able to help. If you are ready to find a job, speaking to your drugs worker or the staff at the job centre can help you find work and training opportunities.
A. You should talk to your local treatment provider who will be able to give you advice on housing and also, where necessary, point you in the direction of specialist assistance. It is important to get advice because, for example, the fact that you are receiving structured treatment may assist you in addressing your housing problems. Your key worker will be able to support an application for re-housing where your living circumstances are a barrier to your recovery.
A. This will depend on what treatment you choose. Alcohol is not recommended while you are receiving maintenance treatment. However, it may be difficult for some people to avoid alcohol completely. If you do have a drink, you should take care to consume only moderate amounts. However, if you are attending a 12-step programme you should be aware that you will be expected to stop drinking alcohol completely and alcohol will probably not be available in a residential rehab centre.
A. Your doctor will keep all your treatment information confidential unless there are exceptional circumstances. These are generally when your actions could put others at risk, for instance if you have certain illnesses or the doctor deems your dependence a risk to your children. In most cases, if your doctor wishes to pass on your treatment details, they will explain why and ask for your permission.
A. Once you are on medication, you should expect it to be reviewed regularly by your doctor or key-worker. However, if you have any concerns about it or you don’t feel it is working you should discuss it with them immediately.

Prescription of your medication will depend on the treatment type you receive. Some medications you will get from your doctor/clinic, while others may be taken at a local pharmacy.
A. There are a number of options available to you other than rehab. Some options use medications while others use alternatives such as psychological therapies. To discover which treatment might be best for your personal recovery journey, you can find out more in the choosing recovery section, from a support group or from your doctor.
A. Your treatment provider will be able to assist you to transfer your treatment to a provider in another area: it is your right for your treatment to continue.
A. It may. If you have a job that requires you to drive or operate heavy machinery then you may have to stop doing that if your treatment includes maintenance therapy (however, if that is the case you may want to consider whether you should be doing the job when you are using illicit drugs). In any event you have a right to expect your treatment provider to be accessible to you after work and most now have late night and/or weekend opening hours.

A. Yes. You should talk to your drug/alcohol worker about your concerns and they will assist you to get continued care once you go into prison. The treatment that is available will vary from prison to prison at the moment because things are changing, but you should receive continuity of care between your community-based treatment and that which you receive in prison.
A. This will depend on where you are going, some countries do not allow you to import controlled drugs, even prescribed ones while some may require you to get permission beforehand. The best thing to do is check with their embassy: whatever the arrangements required, it may take some time to sort out, so do this in plenty of time.

Your doctor will need to give you a holiday prescription to be able to take your medication with you. Most doctors will supply these but they may need plenty of notice. You will also need a letter from your doctor or key-worker outlining your name, address, date of birth, outward and return dates of travel, where you are going and a list of the drugs you are carrying including the doses and total amounts.

You can carry up to 3 months’ supply of your medication without having to apply for a UK export licence. However, you must also check how much medication you can take into the country you are visiting. You should contact the embassy of that country to check whether there are limits to what you can take and again, whether you need a licence.
A. If you are receiving maintenance medication for your dependence, you must notify the DVLA. However, you may be able to keep your licence if you have a favourable assessment including evidence of no other substance use. You will then receive annual reviews while you are still recovering. If you have a licence for larger vehicles (Group 2 entitlement), you will come under stricter regulations and need to have been stable on a maintenance programme for at least 3 years. You must also check out your insurance as it may be possible that this will be invalid if you are considered to be intoxicated or otherwise under the influence.