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Remaining Substance Free during the Covid-19 pandemic

Drug recovery information from

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

The closure of services, distancing measures and self-isolation could be particularly difficult for those who are trying to remain drug free or for those who are in recovery.

It is important to check in with any addiction/medical services or support groups that you attend to know what way they plan to operate during this time. You may need to frequently check in with that service for updates.

You may notice some things like increased anxiety, feeling stressed or having irrational thoughts.It can help to keep as active as possible in line with what health officials say and to not loose contact with those around you

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep are important to help you stay on track.

Tips for remaining substance free

We understand that this is a very difficult time; it can be about finding what works for you and will depend on where you are at with your recovery.

Below are some tips that might help from the team.

Stay calm and remind yourself;

  • Why you don’t want the substance, write it down and keep it in your pocket or post it somewhere in your home that you can see
  • Of the consequences of relapsing, such as danger of overdose
  • Of the benefits you have gained so far
  • Of how you will feel after
  • To avoid trigger situations and thoughts that lead you use
  • You are in control


  • Find something to do that will take all your attention – in a positive way. It could take trying a few options to see what works for you.  Try to avoid researching too much about COVID19, limit the amount you read online and how often you check the news. Get your facts from a trusted source such as the HSE
  • Try to avoid in a risky situations where you are around people drinking or taking drugs, and you are finding it very difficult. We understand that it could be difficult with extra time on your hands and services being closed. Set a new routine that works for where you are at, write it down so you have a plan for each day. Stick to the plan!
  • Read your list of reasons why you don’t want to relapse. Keep the list somewhere you can see it each day
  • Find a friend or one of your support network to talk to
  • Have something to eat and go for a walk in line with social distancing guidance.Whenever you feel very uncomfortable or upset keep telling yourself it will pass If you have cravings, pretend that the craving is like a sore throat that you have to put up with until it goes away.

Remember, there is a higher risk of overdose if you have not used drugs in a while.
Find out more on our overdose page

Find out local services operating times 

The COVID service directory will help you fnd the contact details for a local service operating at this time.

Find a Support Group

Some support groups may be available online. Online supports have many benefits and could offer you support while you remain at home.

NA Ireland 

Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is a non-profit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs had become a major problem. Online meetings are also available due to the coronavirus crisis. We offer recovery from the effects of addiction through working a twelve step program, including regular attendance at group meetings. Find details about their online meetings here.

NA International will also provide online supports, find their details here.


Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from. Find their detailsabout their online groups here.

A specific EU AA also provide suuports, find their details here.

SMART Recovery

SMART recovery is a non-faith based behaviour change support groupSMART Recovery Online (SROL) is an online community where individuals with addiction, their Family & Friends, and other specialized audiences can interact with SMART Recovery volunteers and each other to aid in overcoming addiction. Their online group details can be found here.

Mental health supports

It is important to look after your mental health during this time. There are a few different support options that you could explore.

Text and email supports


• Alone provide a COVID-19 support line for older people
• Telephone 0818 222 024 (from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday)
• Visit


• Emotional support to anyone in distress or struggling to cope
• Freephone 116 123 (any time, day or night)
• Email

Pieta House

• Pieta House provides telephone and text-based support counselling for people who are suicidal or engaging in self-harm
• Freephone 1800 247 247 (any time, day or night)
• Text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
• Telephone appointments will be provided to replace face to face appointments – contact your local Pieta House for details

Exchange House Ireland National Traveller Mental Health Service

• Telephone and online services and supports are available while face to face and group services have stopped
• Call 01 8721094 (then press 1) for support, help or advice (from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)
• Visit for more information

Online counselling


• Free online counselling and online support groups for people over 18
• Visit


• Online counselling service
• Visit or email

Suicide or Survive (SOS)

• A series of free online wellness workshops and programmes are available from SOS
• Visit Suicide or Survive for more information


• Support for people with mental ill health. Shine also are currently providing remote support and an outreach service to people who use Shine services by phone and email.
• Visit or email

The website provides information and signposting on all mental health supports and services that are available nationally & locally provided by the HSE and its funded partners. You can also call the freephone YourMentalHealth Information Line to find supports and services 1800 111 888 (any time, day or night).

General well-being

The Sanctuary is offering weekly online meditation classes for free via the Zoom app Monday Mornings from 10am- 10.30am. Their Zoom link can be found here.

Mindfulness Teachers Association of Ireland are providing free online classes. You can find their details here.

Mobile apps to support your mental health

These mobile apps can help you manage anxiety. They have been reviewed and approved for listing here, by a group in the HSE (Mental Health Apps Review Sub Group). The app developers are solely responsible for their app’s advertisement, compliance and fitness for purpose. Unless stated otherwise, apps are not supplied by the HSE, and the HSE is not liable for their use.

Mindshift (by Anxiety Canada)

A user-friendly self-help tool based on proven scientific strategies, MindShift CBT teaches about anxiety, helping users to engage in healthy thinking and to take action. Users check in each day to track their anxiety and work with tools in the app.

Clear Fear

Clear Fear is an app developed for teenage mental health charity Stem4 which uses the evidence-based treatment CBT to focus on learning to reduce the physical responses to threat by learning to breathe, relax and be mindful as well as changing thoughts and behaviours and releasing emotions. You can personalise the app if you so wish and you will be able to track your progress and notice change.


Headspace is a well-known mobile app that teaches meditation and easy to use mindfulness skills. Map your journey, track your progress, and reap rewards in your overall health and wellbeing. You can even ‘buddy up’ with friends and motivate each other along the way.

Source: HSE National Social Inclusion and The National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Useful HSE information in relation to Coronavirus (COVID 19)

Proect yourself and others

At risk groups

Coronavirus testing

Coronavirus treatment