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for
families

We care, for the better.

A place for families, because you don't have to use drugs to be affected by them.

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What should I do?

Dealing with what you are going through is complicated and difficult.

How can I cope with their behaviour?

It is normal to feel helpless, frustrated, worried and upset by a loved one's substance use. Drug and alcohol users can have very erratic behaviour, and it can be difficult to know how to act around them. Their substance use may lead to patterns of behaviour that can be distressing, distant, cold or even aggressive, angry and violent. Some drug users may commit crimes and go to prison.

Each family copes with substance use in their own unique way. However, there are recognised stages that families tend to go through when there is serious use:

  • Denying - ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away
  • Enabling - inadvertently enabling drug/alcohol use to continue by paying debts, lying to cover up for the user, tolerating very difficult behaviour, buying drugs/alcohol, etc
  • Controlling - taking control of the user’s life and drug/alcohol use in an attempt to make them stop using
  • Apathy - withdrawing, casting the user out of the family home, giving up.

Note that a family may not go through all the stages above, or the stages may be mixed up. Different family members can be at different stages at the same time.

For more detailed information and practical advice see the information sheets coping with conflict (pdf) and setting and keeping boundaries, (pdf) and our 'Where do I get the help I need?' and 'Getting support for your loved one' sections.