Alcohol and drug use - what to do when it affects your family

Our passionate Holyoake team came together to provide strategies for families coping with the effects of illicit drug use:-

We are very familiar with the news relating stories about drug use and the impact it has on people’s lives through media reports. But what happens if it is your own family or someone you care about who is affected? Families can play a powerful role in supporting someone to make changes in their alcohol or drug use, but often it can be quite confusing in knowing what to do.

“When parents, brothers and sisters and partners contact us for support, they are often feeling completely powerless,” says CatholicCare’s Holyoake Program Coordinator Jane Singleton. “They see the impact drugs are having on their loved one and they want to help. They have often tried a lot of different ways to approach it but unfortunately still feel stuck. Family members worry they will lose their relationships.”

Jane and the team at Holyoake specifically provide information and support to family members to help them find new or different ways of coping. “Family members tell us that having a space to focus on what is happening for them helps to change their relationship with the drug use, as well as develop new strategies and ways of coping.” she reports. “We also find in many instances, that this family support has a positive influence on the person who is using alcohol or drugs”.

If your family is impacted by a family member’s drug use, here are the Team’s tips to help you move forward:-

  • Be clear about whose change this is

It’s important to remember that the only person you have the power to change is yourself. As much as you may want your family member to change their drug use, it is ultimately up to them to make that change for themselves. As a family member, you can however influence, support and encourage.

  • Choose the right time to talk

Plan to speak with your loved one about your concerns in private, when you both have time and feel relaxed or calm. Express your concern and support rather than your anger or frustration.

  • Educate yourself

Understanding drugs, their effects and how they can influence the behaviour of individuals and families can be a useful first step in helping yourself and your family.

  • Take care of yourself

The best way to help others is to look after yourself so that you are in a more stable position to help someone else. Everyone is different in how they take care of their wellbeing but some options may include; taking a break away, having counselling, meeting with a good friend, exercising or taking a long walk by the beach. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish; it’s the best way to be a strong support for your family.


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