PEOPLE in Gwent at risk of turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with the mental health effects of lockdown, can now use a unique Wales-wide webchat service launched by substance misuse charity Barod.

The new service - the first of its kind for substance misuse in Wales - is operated by Barod’s trained case workers who can provide support, including brief interventions, to address problem behaviour before it escalates.

This is different to helplines operated by other charities, that can only refer people to services provided elsewhere.

As an online service, the webchat facility is available from 9am-9pm, Monday-Friday, and 11am-4pm on Saturday and Sunday. To use the service, visit, and click on the chat tab in the bottom-right corner (desktop) or bottom of the screen (mobile/tablet).

Barod - Welsh for 'ready' - was until recently known as Drugaid, and runs services across south and west Wales, including in Newport, Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent, and Caerphilly.

“We have seen a spike in referrals in recent weeks, after they initially dipped in the early stages of lockdown," said Barod chief executive Caroline Phipps.

"But with lockdown now part of our daily lives, loneliness and the mental health impact of living through a pandemic have seen people falling back into old habits that they’d done well to control previously, and others are turning to substances in an effort to self-medicate.

“As a charity that specialises in addressing substance misuse and getting people back onto an even keel, we had to move quickly to ensure that the people who need us can still access our services effectively and safely.

"This is why we’ve invested in developing a webchat facility through which our trained case workers can provide help directly to those in need.


“We are also seeing a lot of 'concerned others' turning to us to try and find ways to help a loved one who is struggling to cope.

"This also happened pre-lockdown of course, but cases of people contacting us on behalf of someone else have increased significantly as people spend more time together in lockdown, making habits harder to conceal.

"It’s important now, more than ever, that people realise that there is help available to them. So, if you’re suffering and finding it hard to avoid old habits, or are turning to alcohol or drugs to help you cope, please reach out to one of our case workers.

"You can speak to them anonymously and they have helped many others going through similar things. You may be worried, anxious or lonely, but you are not alone.”

Barod is part of a consortium, along with Kaleidoscope and G4S, that runs Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service. Contact 0333 999 3577 for support, information, advice or to make a referral.

Barod has a treatment centre in Lower Dock Street, Newport, and also runs a young person's service - Gwent N-gage - which provides support, information and advice to young people under 18 in relation to their own or others' drug/alcohol use. The service also provides support and training to professionals working with young people. Contact 0333 320 2751 for support, information, advice or to make a referral.