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Treatment & medications for alcohol or drug addiction or abuse

Quitting or cutting back on alcohol or drugs is very hard once you're addicted. Most people who are heavily addicted will need help from professionals to cut down or quit.

Professionals can help you understand why you use alcohol or drugs. They can also help you develop better ways to manage problems.

Professionals can help you to get back into the workforce. They can also help you repair damage to your relationships with family and friends.

Once you've stopped using alcohol or drugs, you're likely to need ongoing support to stop going back to them.

Treating alcohol and drug addiction

Most alcohol and drug treatment providers are in the community. They provide different types of support depending on your needs. Their services can include:

Addiction treatment is free but you may have to wait to access some services.

Support services

General practice team

If you need to find a general practice team, you can search on this map.

You can visit your GP for support and for a referral.

Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) Central Coordination Service

You can contact the Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) Central Coordination Service yourself. You can also call the AOD Central Coordination Service if you're worried about a family member's or friend's drinking or drug taking.

To contact the service, call (03) 338‑4437 or email.

The service can provide brief intervention, self-help information, support and education. It has links to all AOD treatment providers in Christchurch and will help you make contact with the treatment provider who can best meet your needs.

He Waka Tapu

This kaupapa service provides a range of services and support for Māori and their whānau. It particularly focuses on alcohol and drug treatment and support using a kaupapa Māori model. It can provide individual support to allow a person to completely stop their drug or alcohol use. Phone (03) 373-8150 or 0800-439-252.


Medication for alcohol or drug addiction or abuse isn't always needed.

For some addictions, the best method is to stop suddenly (go cold turkey). For other addictions, the best method is to gradually decrease the dose of the drug over weeks or months. This slow reduction usually avoids the worst withdrawal effects. But it involves very close support from a doctor.

If you're very heavily addicted, you might need medication to help get through the initial stages of withdrawal. You might also need medication if you get very bad withdrawal symptoms.

Common medications to help treat alcohol and drug addiction are:

For withdrawal

Opioid substitution treatment (OST)

For alcohol abuse

You can find out more about the particular medicines you're taking in Medications for mental health issues.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2020.


Page reference: 520827

Review key: HIADG-47857