Supporting someone with an alcohol or other drug problem

Having an alcohol or other drug problem not only affects the person with the problem, but everyone around them. It can be both emotionally and physically draining for those involved given life-changing and demanding stressors. Here are some guidelines to getting support and helping yourself. For more detailed information, visit the Healthdirect Australia website.

Learn ways to cope and set boundaries 

These are essential for people who care for those misusing substances. Boundary setting, in particular, helps the carer to provide appropriate support as well as a minimising the impact of harmful consequences associated with substance misuse behaviour.

Educate yourself 

Learn about why people misuse alcohol and other drugs, and the effects the specific drug has on the body and mind. The Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) (1300 13 1340) is a good starting point and can offer plenty of information and resources as well as counselling support.

Express yourself 

It is important to talk about your feelings and concerns, especially with people you can relate to and who can relate to you in a non judgemental and supportive environment. Not talking about your experiences and feelings in relation to the person you care about could impair your emotional and mental health. You can call ADIS 1300 13 1340 to find out where you can go for group support and or professional counselling.

Keep expectations realistic 

Usually, the carers are the first to feel concerned and anxious when it comes to alcohol and other drug problems. The person with the problem may not recognise their use as a problem and could be reluctant to get help. Their readiness for change can’t be forced or controlled. It’s something they will do when they are ready. The key is to be consistent with your boundaries, provide encouragement, guidance, information about what treatment is available and support when they are ready to take that first step.

More information