When someone is struggling with alcohol or drug problems it is hard to know what to do.. Trying to help someone you care about is never easy. Research shows us, with your support, your family member or friend have a greater chance of change. When someone is using too many drugs/alcohol it is important to remember that;
Each family’s situation is unique.
Expect challenges because they may not agree that they have a problem.
They may feel embarrassed, and not want to discuss it with you.
They may feel awkward about discussing personal issues with clinicians.
They may be using too many drugs and/or alcohol as a way to avoid dealing with other problems.
They may not want to change what they are doing.
There is no fast and easy way to support someone with drug/alcohol issues so if they do not want to change what they are doing, trying to persuade them to get help can be challenging.
Keeping your relationship with the person is helpful. This can be hard to do if the person has already betrayed your trust. However, establishing trust both ways is an important first step in helping them to think about change. Trust is easily undermined, even when you are trying to help.
It is important to avoid nagging, criticising and lecturing the person, yelling, name calling and exaggerating (even when you are stressed out yourself). This will only cause more conflict.
Be aware that although you just want to help the person, they may think you are trying to control them This may increase the over using drugs/alcohol even more.
They may use the drugs/alcohol as a way to control stress. If the atmosphere between you is stressful, they may use drugs/alcohol more not less.
Building trust is a two-way process. Trust is not established by putting up with their poor behaviour, aggression or violence.
It is ok for people to have natural consequence for their behaviour. Don’t try too hard to protect the person from the consequences of their own actions unless it is harmful to themselves or others, for example, drink or drug driving.
Being in a relationship with the person can be stressful and chaotic. Accepting that you are going through stress and need help managing it is an important step in helping the person as well as yourself. Self-care is critical.
Most people change their drug/alcohol use when they become sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Although you may feel tempted to let the person know that their drug/alcohol use is a problem and that they need to change, the decision to change is up to them. They are much more likely to be open to thinking about change over time if you are honest in your communication without being threatening. It is your connection and relationship with the person that is most important. Change does not happen overnight.