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How to Support a Loved One with an Alcohol or Other Drug Problem

Posted on 3 April, 2021 at 4:55

Written by Melissa Copeman (April 2021)

Having someone you care about misuse alcohol or other drugs can be confusing and distressing. Harm not only occurs to the person misusing the substance but to their families as well. Relationships deteriorate, there is often financial difficulties, and there may be abusive behaviour towards you. Recent statistics from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey show us whilst some illicit drug use is at an all time high, alcohol use has decreased in men over 18 years of age. However 1 in 4 Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels, and 1 in 10 people will experience alcohol dependence.

Whilst many feel helpless and frustrated when trying to support loved ones through their addiction or recovery, there are some very effective and positive things you can do to help:

• Be armed with knowledge. Research the signs of abuse or dependence, as well the various treatment options available. Do a bit of the initial leg work so that when you talk to your loved one, you have all the relevant information at hand

• Listen non-judgementally and talk through your concerns in a calm and caring manner. Be specific about what worries you, what you see in their behaviour or attitude. Most people will be very sensitive to being judged and if they feel they are, they might not be willing to listen to anything you have to say

• Choose a time to talk when your loved one has not been drinking or using drugs

• Know the difference between support and enabling. Supporting someone means you hold them to account for their behaviour and you let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviour. You assist them to get help, but don’t do everything for them. Enabling your loved one, for example, might be if you make excuses for them when they have been drinking or using drugs, or if you were to give them money when they have spent all their money or alcohol or drugs. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own behaviour.

• If your loved one is dependent on the substance, it’s really important to understand that addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition, therefore, relapse is often a part of the process and shouldn’t be seen as a failure. You can help your loved one by understanding the process of addiction and recovery and help them to see that they can learn from a relapse so that they can put strategies in place to make different choices in the future

• Get your own support too. It can be extremely emotionally draining supporting someone through these issues. Make sure you are looking after yourself and make time to do the things that help you to live a fulfilled life




Categories: Alcohol and Drug Addiction