IF YOU’RE UNWELL
Getting support if you’re seriously unwell
Why your health is important
Most people who use alcohol and other drugs will become ill with the same types of conditions that everyone else does. But some health problems do relate to substance use (for example: liver problems resulting from alcohol use, or hepatitis B or C related to sharing equipment for injecting drugs). Many health problems can get worse over time. Getting help early can vastly improve your health and wellbeing.
- Using alcohol and other drugs can minimise health symptoms, so please go to your GP as soon as possible.
- If you’re worried that your GP will judge you, ask to see another GP or nurse who is sympathetic.
- Some people reach the end of their lives sooner than they had hoped. Get help from your local Palliative Care services to make your quality of life as good as possible for as long as possible. They will also help you to plan ahead and support you to have as much choice as possible when you approach the end of your life.
- Everyone – absolutely everyone – deserves good health and social care. Your life is important.
Making sure you get good care
You may have experienced poor, rude or judgmental attitudes from some health and social care practitioners who just focus on your substance use. This is NOT acceptable. Keep looking for a helpful and compassionate practitioner: there are many out there.
- Do not judge yourself harshly for becoming ill and for using substances. You didn’t plan it to be this way!
- If you feel unable to find out about what is making you feel ill on your own, ask someone you trust to help you find out what’s going on. Ask them to accompany you to appointments or sit with you while you make a phone call. Two brains are often better than one!
- If you want to start thinking about your wishes for near the end of your life, talk about it with close friends or family members or a worker who has supported you in the past.
How do I know if I'm unwell?
This brief leaflet provides some information to help you work out what you need to do.
Pocket guide for people experiencing ill-health
This guide for people who use (or used to use) alcohol or other drugs helps you think about what you might want in the future if you become seriously ill. It is designed to help you access the best possible care when you need it.
Videos & podcasts
These podcasts have been created for people experiencing advancing ill health and using alcohol or other drugs (or have done so in the past).
These case studies give some examples of real-life people, their support needs and their experiences of care as they become increasingly ill and approach the end of their life.