There is a range of alcohol and drug-related services available in Victoria, many of which are free. Most of these services are available throughout regional and metropolitan areas.
If you think you or someone you know has an alcohol or drug problem, the first step in getting help is talking to someone. Counsellors and health professionals can provide you with confidential advice and refer you to a treatment or program that is right for you.
You can take this first step by:
- visiting your local doctor
- calling DirectLine on 1800 888 236, which is a 24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone affected by drugs in Victoria.
Taking the first step with alcohol or drug problems
, doctors and other healthcare professionals can help if you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drugs. They are legally bound to keep whatever you tell them confidential.
They will usually start by assessing your alcohol or drug use and then refer you to a service where you can get the help and support you need.
Counselling – online and phone support
Counselling is the most common kind of treatment, and there are a number of different approaches that might be taken. Counselling is provided by healthcare professionals, including psychologists, general practitioners, psychiatrists and social workers. It may be delivered face-to-face, online and over the telephone for individuals and in some instances their families, as well as via group counselling and day programs. Counselling can range from a brief intervention or single session to extended periods of one-to-one engagement or group work.
DirectLine is a 24-hour-a-day information and advice line that is free, anonymous and confidential. You can talk to a professional counsellor who is experienced in alcohol and drug-related matters, and they can start you on the path to recovery.
DirectLine is available to anyone in Victoria who is affected by an alcohol or drug problem (including family members, relatives and friends of someone using drugs).
Phone counsellors at DirectLine can provide:
- immediate counselling and support, including crisis intervention
- support in dealing with the impact of drug use on the family
- assistance in developing strategies to deal with alcohol or drug problems
- information about how to reduce the harm associated with drug use
- information and referral to treatment and support services across Victoria
- links to further information and education resources.
If you prefer to access support online, Turning Point offers free, confidential online counselling 24 hours a day. This is offered by Counselling Online which is text-based counselling for alcohol and drug users, and others affected by alcohol and drug use in the community, including family members, relatives and friends.
Counselling Online can be accessed from any computer or mobile device in Australia with connection to the internet. No special equipment or downloads are required.
Withdrawal services are for people experiencing specific symptoms affecting their physical or mental health after they stop using alcohol or drugs. Depending on the extent of your problem, your local doctor or DirectLine may direct you to:
- Residential withdrawal – this usually involves a short stay in a community residential drug withdrawal service or hospital.
- Home-based withdrawal – this involves a series of intensive individual sessions over a short period, followed by ongoing counselling. It is provided by an experienced nurse and a doctor for people whose withdrawal symptoms are only mild to moderate, and for whom support is available from a family member or friend at home. Home-based withdrawal can either be access through a community-based service, or as an outpatient at a hospital.
Methadone and other pharmacotherapies
'Pharmacotherapies' is a term that means using medication to help treat conditions such as addiction. Therapies include methadone and buprenorphine.
Methadone is accessible through local doctors who have been trained to prescribe it, with the medication itself delivered through some community pharmacies. Specialist methadone services may be required if you have additional and complex medical, psychiatric or psychological problems. Specialist methadone services operate from hospitals.
Your local doctor or DirectLine can help you access several services that are available to people who need rehabilitation or ongoing treatment after the withdrawal stage, including:
- Residential rehabilitation – this provides a safe and supported environment for people who are not able to reduce or overcome their drug use issues through other programs, to address underlying issues leading to their drug use. It provides a range of interventions, such as individual and group counselling with an emphasis on mutual self-help and peer support, and supported reintegration into the community.
- Therapeutic day rehabilitation – this is aimed at supporting people who are at risk of short-term harm as a result of their alcohol or drug problem and needing intensive support. Unlike residential rehabilitation, people accessing therapeutic day rehabilitation will be able to remain at home while accessing support.
- Peer support – this is help from a person with first-hand experience of alcohol and drug use. Peer support groups or activities are usually set up by current or past alcohol and drug users.
Care and recovery coordination
If you are receiving drug treatment, but are also engaged in a range of services or programs (such as housing, mental health, employment programs), you may be assigned a care and recovery coordinator who will work collaboratively with the other services you are engaged with to ensure each of your needs are met, while ensuring you are supported in the community.
Care and recovery coordinators will assist in providing a more seamless and integrated treatment pathway for you and those supporting you. They will improve your access to other services and support stronger engagement with family or friends in treatment planning and goal setting.
Services for families
Families can provide a much needed support network for people experiencing problems with alcohol or drugs, but they themselves may need support to do this.
Services for family members are available by phoning Family Drug Help on 1300 660 068 and include:
- Family drug help – there are many self-help groups for family members of alcohol and drug users across Victoria. They provide support, information and advice for families.
- Parent support – these programs are provided by alcohol and drug professionals to groups of parents across the state. They provide support to parents and families of alcohol and drug users and guide them through supporting a child or other family member with a substance problem.
- Sibling support – these programs address the mental health and wellbeing of brothers and sisters affected by addiction in the family.
- Family counselling – these services are provided to families who are looking for assistance, counselling and support for a family member who has a substance problem.
Services for young people
Services available specifically for young people include:
- youth outreach and support – assessment, support and ongoing case coordination for young people in their own environment
- youth residential withdrawal – provided through a community residential drug withdrawal service or through hospital-based treatment
- youth home-based withdrawal – provided where the withdrawal is of mild to moderate severity, and the person can be supported by a family member or friend at home
- youth residential rehabilitation – 24-hour staffed residential programs that provide a range of interventions for young people whose established use of drugs has caused them significant harm
- youth supported accommodation – a supportive residential environment to help young people achieve lasting change and help with their re-introduction into the community.
Contact Youth Drug and Alcohol Advice (YoDAA) on 1800 458 685 or phone DirectLine on 1800 888 236 at any time, for information and advice about treatment and programs specifically for young people.
Services for Aboriginal people
Alcohol and drug treatment services are available throughout Victoria for Aboriginal people who are affected (either directly or indirectly) or who are at risk of being affected by substance abuse. These services are delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and some mainstream alcohol and drug services. The role of these specific Aboriginal alcohol and drug workers is to work in a culturally informed way with Aboriginal individuals and families to address problematic alcohol and drug use.
Referrals to Aboriginal-specific services can be made:
Where to get help
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Better Health Channel - (need new cp)
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.