Drug and alcohol misuse is a global health problem with great health economic costs to substance misusers, their families, and their communities. It is associated with high physical and psychiatric morbidity, and with high mortality. There are serious obstacles to its treatment, including the stigma associated with it. Major advances in assessment and treatment have enabled health professionals to tackle drug and alcohol problems in a variety of settings, including primary care setting. This overview focuses on recent advances in the treatment of substance use disorders and on optimal models of care and services, with reference to studies conducted in the United Arab Emirates. Community surveys in Dubai and Al-Ain have shown a high prevalence of these disorders. It is proposed that these problems be dealt with in primary care settings, and it has been found that primary health care workers have a key role to play and are often in an ideal position to coordinate the community's response.