> > Drugs


While the numbers of people with serious drug problems in West Sussex may be small, drug misuse affects not just the user but their family, friends and the community.

In West Sussex, more than 51,000 people used at least one illicit drug in 2008-09 (British Crime Survey and GP-registered population).

For most people this will be a passing phase and they will not continue to take drugs or require any special treatment in order to deal with it.

However an estimated 2,202 West Sussex residents have developed a serious drug problem relating to heroin and/or crack cocaine, according to Glasgow University research.

During 2009, 1,700 people in the county sought help to address drug problems.

I need support or help: what's available?

If you need support or help with drug-use issues in West Sussex, we can point you in the right direction.

Drug services are provided by a range of organisations and managed by the West Sussex Drug and Alcohol Action Team.

There is also a lot of support and help to families, partners and friends of people who are taking drugs.

Find out more about the services available in West Sussex and how to contact them.

What drugs do to you

Drugs can affect the person taking them, their family, friends and their community.

There are also some very clear effects on health – some of these are listed below:


There is evidence that cannabis heightens mental health problems, such as schizophrenia. Research has shown that smoking cannabis joints is even more damaging to lungs than smoking cigarettes. Long-term use can cause lung disease and cancer. Cannabis can also lead to paranoia and loss of motivation.


Cocaine is highly addictive. People who are young and healthy can have a fit or heart attack after taking too much coke. It can also cause panic attacks.


Ecstasy can cause panic attacks or psychotic states. There have been more than 200 ecstasy-related deaths in the UK since 1996. The drug has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems.

Amphetamines (also known as speed)

Amphetamines are very addictive, and the comedown can make you feel depressed. They put a strain on your heart, and users have died from overdosing.

Information from NHS Choices

Are you worried that someone you know is taking drugs?

It can be very worrying to think that someone you care about is taking drugs. We know how hard it is, no matter if it is your parent, child, brother, sister, family member or friend.

But don’t worry, there is help available.

Drop-in sessions are available across West Sussex at a number of locations.

Living with someone who misuses drugs or alcohol can create a lot of stress, tension and a feeling of isolation. Our volunteer advisers are all trained and non-judgemental, and can provide you with free information and support in safe and friendly surroundings. They are people you can speak to in confidence.

You can find out more about the drop-in sessions available in West Sussex on our drugs services page.

There are also a number of organisations and charities which can offer help, confidential support and advice for people of all ages concerned about a family member or friend. Find out more about these organisations and how to contact them in the right-hand column.

Drugs and your child

If you are a parent and you are concerned your child may be taking drugs, there is help and support available.

We understand it is not an easy conversation to have with your child, but being prepared to discuss drugs makes it easier.

It's never too early or too late to talk about drugs with your child.

Here are some helpful tips:

  1. take the opportunity to talk if the subject comes up
  2. let them know your values and boundaries
  3. avoid scare tactics
  4. do your homework
  5. know their friends
  6. let them know you love them unconditionally
  7. listen as well as talk
  8. don’t be surprised if they argue, get embarrassed or storm off
  9. make sure they know that the responsibility for their actions rests ultimately with them, not you
  10. get support for yourself.

In West Sussex, there is a dedicated service for young people experiencing substance misuse: our drugs services page has more information.

For other help available to parents, follow the useful links in the right-hand column.