How can I help them?

Family members are often desperate to help their loved one stop drinking or using drugs. Ultimately, whether your loved one recovers is up to them. You can't take that decision for them, difficult though that may be to accept at first. However, there are some steps that you can take to support them.

Get support for yourself

It may sound counter-intuitive, and you may have never considered getting support yourself, but a family who is healthy and supported is in a much stronger position to influence their loved one to seek help.Explore the other pages in this ‘Help for Families’ section to find local services in your area.

Inform yourself about the substance they use

Those who use drugs and alcohol sometimes exploit their loved one's fears and lack of knowledge. The better informed you are the less able they will be to manipulate you or play on your worries.

Find out about treatment services in your area

Your loved one may not be interested in getting help yet but have the information to hand or casually leave it in their way (if safe to do so). It may plant a seed and it will mean that you are better informed about what treatment involves when the time comes to support them in it.

Maintain clear boundaries

Work out your boundaries, communicate them to your loved one and stick to them. Read more about setting boundaries.

Be positive

This can be extremely challenging, especially if you have experienced a string of disappointments or broken promises. But finding ways to communicate to your loved one that you believe in them and are there to support them when they are ready to seek help can make all the difference. Recognising successes, however small they may seem (a small reduction in the drugs/alcohol used or a thoughtful gesture which comes out of the blue) can play an important role in motivating someone to change.