Ngā whakarauoratanga me rongoā mō te waranga, te whakamanioro rānei i te waipiro, te pūroi rānei Getting help with alcohol or drug addiction

Quitting or cutting back on alcohol or drugs is very hard once you are addicted. Most people who are heavily addicted will need help from professionals. Once you have stopped using alcohol or drugs, you are likely to need ongoing support to stop going back to them.

Addiction treatment is free

  • Counselling is for anyone who wants to talk to someone one to one.

    If you use a regional or non-governmental service, these are free. If you use a private provider, you will have to pay. 

    Counsellors can help you make the changes you want to make, and get into other treatment if needed.

    To find a counsellor, contact:

  • Peer group support is for people who would like to be supported by others who have had a problem, and are working hard not to use drugs or alcohol. It is provided by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These services are free, but you may be asked for a koha (donation).

  • Group sessions are for people who would like to know more about the effects of alcohol and drugs, and talk to other people about them. These sessions are free.

    To find a service provider, contact:

  • Day programmes are for people who need intensive support with their alcohol or drug problem, but a residential live-in programme is not suitable for them. These are free programmes. They can include 3 to 4 group sessions a week, and last for up to 8 weeks.

    To find a service provider, contact:

  • These programmes are for people who have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. They are weekly sessions for 6 to 8 weeks.

    Your legal advisor may suggest you attend a course before your court appearance. A judge or probation officer may order you to attend the course.

    Various organisations around Aotearoa New Zealand provide these programmes. The cost varies, so make sure to check.

    To find out the courses available in your area, contact:

  • Residential services provide a live-in situation. The location of facilities is discreet and your privacy is respected. They are for people who have been trying to get off alcohol, drugs, or both, for a long time but do not feel there are other options left to try. You will live with other people who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions.

    Most residential services are free, but private clinics charge a fee.

    You may be able to get financial help with living expenses so check with Work and Income.

    Residential support subsidy — Work and Income

    To find a residential service in your area contact:

  • A support house is like a halfway house that offers extra support while you go through recovery. They are for people waiting to start a residential live-in programme, or have finished a programme but are not quite ready to return to their usual living situation.

    There may be a cost. You may be able to get financial help with living expenses so check with Work and Income.

    Residential support subsidy — Work and Income

    To find a support house in your area contact:

  • Drug treatment units provide a group based programme for prisoners who would like to be alcohol or drug free. They are provided by the Department of Corrections at no cost. Talk to your case manager in prison and ask to be referred to the Drug Treatment Unit. You may need to meet certain criteria to access this service.

    Specialised units — Department of Corrections

  • Benzodiazepines

    Benzodiazepines are minor tranquillisers. You are usually prescribed these in the short term (days or weeks) to help with alcohol withdrawal. They reduce the cravings and physical symptoms of withdrawal.

    You usually take these in decreasing doses and are closely monitored by your healthcare provider. You should not take them for more than 2 weeks otherwise they lose their effectiveness. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery if you are taking benzodiazepines.

    Anti-nausea medications

    You might need anti-nausea medications if you are withdrawing from some drugs. These include cannabis and synthetic drugs. You might also need medications like hyoscine butylbromide (buscopan) or loperamide to help with stomach cramps or diarrhoea.

    Pain relief

    Pain relief like paracetamol can help with muscle aches or headaches.

    Mild sedatives

    Mild sedatives might help with agitation, sleeplessness or irritability.

  • Many people with very heavy opioid addictions might not be able to stop opioids entirely. This is especially likely if they are injecting opioids.

    For these people, it is better to switch to a less harmful form of opioid. This means they can live a more normal life and begin to fix some of their problems. The less harmful opioids are methadone and buprenorphine and naloxone. They are only available legally from healthcare providers who prescribe for the opioid substitution treatment programme.

    Doctors supervise opioid substitution treatments very carefully, and often reduce it gradually over time.

  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)

    You can take this if you do not want to drink, but struggle to resist the cravings. It is only effective if you keep taking it. If you drink alcohol while taking this medication, you will feel very unwell and will not get the pleasant effects of alcohol. This medication works better if you are having addiction therapy at the same time.


    This medication reduces your desire for alcohol. To be prescribed this, you must be enrolled and attending an alcohol treatment programme.

    Vitamins and minerals

    When people drink alcohol heavily, they often lose their appetite for food. If this happens, they often do not get enough nutrients in their diet. A lack of these nutrients can cause severe damage to their organs. If you are a heavy drinker, you are likely to need supplements like thiamine, folic acid, B vitamins, and multivitamins.

Information about how to cut down on your drinking.

The Level

Ways to get through withdrawal from drug use, and options for getting help to change you drug use.

Clinical review

This content was written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. It has been adapted for Health Information and Services.

Clinical advisers — HealthInfo (external link)

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