Alcohol, tobacco and drugs

Your health and wellbeing while waiting

People use substances like tobacco, alcohol or drugs for different reasons. It could be a habit that’s developed over years or something that’s done socially. It could also be a way with coping with things in life.

Whatever the reason for using these substances, you could look at ways to reduce or stop using them. This will help to improve your health now and support your future health and recovery.

You can get information and support on tobacco, alcohol and drugs. You’ll also find local support in your community.


Making small changes to your alcohol intake could impact your health and wellbeing. It could help you to sleep better, feel more energetic and lose weight. Alcohol may also impact any medication you’re on.

If you need to have an operation, alcohol can increase the risks. There’s a higher chance of:

  • risks linked to having an anaesthetic
  • bleeding during the operation
  • complications after surgery, like an infection

Further information on why drinking less alcohol can support your recovery from surgery

Information and support

Drinking no alcohol for a month before surgery can reduce the risk of complications. But, if you’re dependent on alcohol, stopping suddenly can be dangerous. This means you may need support to reduce how much alcohol you drink.


Making small changes to your tobacco use could impact your health and wellbeing. This can help you now but also if you’re waiting for an operation.

Reducing your tobacco use can help your breathing or cough. You could also feel more fit when walking or exercising.

People who give up smoking before surgery can have:

  • a lower risk of complications with anaesthesia
  • better long term results after surgery

Further information on surgery and the risks of smoking

Information and support

There are lots of resources available to help you stop smoking.


There are a wide range of drugs or substances that people use. How often people use them and their reasons for using them can vary.

But, drugs may not support your health and wellbeing in a positive way whilst you wait. They can interact with prescribed medication and affect your preparation for an operation. This means you may want some support at this time

Information and support

There are lots of ways to get help and support with drugs and drug use.

Scotland’s Service Directory

You can use Scotland’s Service Directory to find details of health and wellbeing services in your area. This includes details of different support groups for conditions, illnesses and more.