Support during COVID-19

We are now several months into a global pandemic. So far Australia has been relatively successful in containing the spread of the virus, and many may have thought that the worst was behind us. As restrictions ease across the country many of us have been reaching for recovery and a new sense of normalcy, and now feel alarmed by the virus’ resurgence in Melbourne. As many Victorians reenter a lockdown situation that reduces our sense of freedom and security, it’s natural to feel uncertain, angry and even afraid, but it’s important to focus on the steps we can take to improve our chances of protecting ourselves and our communities. 

Although the pandemic is new to us, the cycle of change and recovery is familiar to us in the alcohol and other drug treatment and support community. Our current situation is a lapse — a minor setback. This isn’t a permanent defeat, and we can keep moving toward recovery. Every Australian can make big or small choices and changes to fortify our communities against COVID — from washing your hands or wearing a mask to supporting local businesses or offering kindness and empathy to those living under restrictions. 

At Counselling Online we’re continuing to adapt our resources to help you as we all build hope and negotiate the next stage of recovery.

Remember, if you find yourself in a lapse and need support our counsellors are available on webchat 24/7, or you can call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline 1800 250 015 to speak to someone in your state.

Last Updated 21 September 2020


There is a lot of information about this virus and we are gaining a better understanding of the risks and how to mitigate them. We suggest you minimise the sources of information to help you keep a clear view of the situation, the Commonwealth and State Government websites are solid places to start.

Harm minimisation

As always we know practising harm minimisation e.g. using sterile equipment, managing dose etc. reduces the associated risks for people who use drugs and drink alcohol. With the increased risks presented by COVID-19 (it greatly affects respiratory function) it is additionally important that you continue to look after yourself.

Early during the pandemic, we asked an expert to share some tips for harm minimisation, if you haven’t already take a look at some clear, simple advice for aimed at people who use substances.

Read more

You can find useful tips and advice from local harm minimisation services below:

Self-isolation, restricted activity and staying at home

As community transmission increases in places, many people are again moving to self-isolation or lockdown, either as a legal obligation or personal choice. 

The range of restricted activities, numbers at gatherings and distances we can travel are decreasing. As the restrictions are changing it is particularly important that you follow the most up-to-date information for your state:

We know that the more severe restrictions, such as total lockdown, may cause fear and distress even for those who are not directly affected by them. If you’re experiencing anxiety about your living situation, your neighbourhood, or even what you see on the news, it’s valuable to reach out and have a chat to us about your feelings. 

Withdrawal or detox

For people who regularly use (or are trying not to use) alcohol and other drugs, this prolonged isolation will present unique challenges.

People who use substances may find that they experience symptoms of withdrawal if they stop suddenly. Withdrawal can be dangerous, if you are concerned about you or someone else, contact your GP or chat to one of our counsellors.

Here are some resources to help you learn more:









Here are some external sites that also have helpful information:


We know during times of great stress and upheaval drug use can increase, this means the risk of overdose can also increase, particularly with social distancing measures in place that mean you may be alone. We are also aware for some people the pandemic reduced accessibility and drug use, which means they if they return to previous levels of use they too are at risk of harm and overdose. Take care of yourself and those close to you, if you are in a situation where someone is overdosing, try to remain calm, call 000 – emergency services are there to help.


Heroin and other opioids

Heroin and other opioids are responsible for more than half of the fatal overdoses in Australia each year. The majority of these overdoses are unintentional. Learn about the symptoms to watch out for.

Naloxone is an opioid-inhibitor that is frequently used to reverse overdoses, and is becoming more widely available throughout Australia. It’s a good idea to arrange to get some naloxone now, just to have on hand.


  • 1800Respect offers support related to sexual assault, family or intimate partner violence.
  • SANE Australia offers counselling and support for people experiencing or caring for mental illness.
  • Suicide Callback Service also offers 24-hour telephone and online counselling for people concerned about suicide.
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 offers 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention counselling.
  • Gambling Help Online offers 24-hour telephone and online counselling for people who are affected by gambling.
  • National Debt Helpline is a telephone line available Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:30pm to discuss any problems related to debt.
  • Headspace offer an online and telephone counselling service for young people 12–25 who are concerned about mental health issues.
  • Kids Helpline is a free helpline for young people 5–25 to confidentially discuss any problem.
  • QLife offers a free counselling and referral service for LGBTQIA+ people experiencing any issue that may affect their health and wellbeing. Available 3:00pm to 12:00am.