Substance misuse

Drinking alcohol above the recommended limits can increase your risk of illness and lead to a wide range of health problems including cancers, strokes, heart attacks and increased accidents. Alcohol misuse has also been associated with risky sexual behaviour and work absenteeism. If you are suffering from depression or anxiety, alcohol often makes it worse.

New alcohol guidelines

The alcohol limit for men has been lowered to be the same as for women. The UK’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) guideline for both men and women is that:

  • You are safest not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week. This is to keep health risks from drinking alcohol to a low level
  • If you do drink as much as 14 units week it is best to spread this evenly across the week

Drug misuse is when a person regularly takes one or more drugs to change their mood, emotion or state of consciousness. During 2010/11, there were 1,630 drug users in effective treatment in Tower Hamlets. However, there are still significant proportions (20 per cent) estimated not to be accessing treatment.

Work we are doing locally to tackle this issue

Public Health works closely with the Tower Hamlets Drugs and Alcohol Action Team to prevent and reduce the negative consequences from alcohol and drug misuse. Some of the work that Public Health undertakes includes:

  • expanding the provision of drug and alcohol education in primary and secondary schools
  • supporting a new model for child and adolescent substance misuse treatment
  • tackling substance misuse related violence and antisocial behaviour
  • improving our understanding of the profile of drug and alcohol related harm.


If you are worried about your drinking or drug use, please see your GP.

You can also contact specialist services in the borough.

Find out where to get help.


You can access factsheets on alcohol consumption and substance misuse in Tower Hamlets.

Useful external links

NHS Choices contains useful information and advice as well as where to seek help for your own or someone else’s substance misuse: