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Youth Blog

I think someone I care about is using drugs or alcohol too much. How can I help them?

January 23, 2014

Substance Abuse is a common problem that will affect many of us at some point in our lives, whether it’s our own use or someone in our lives that we care about. That being said, it does not mean it is easy to deal with!

It is often very difficult to help someone who isn’t ready to acknowledge or change their behavior. You can always let the person know that you care for them and you are concerned about how they are doing… it’s okay to be specific! Such as, “I notice you’re spending a lot of money” or “you don’t look as healthy as you used to” or “you haven’t been able to be a good friend/sister/brother/ parent to me.”

Sometimes people might need that wake up call to see their behavior and how substance abuse is affecting them and those around them. Also it’s probably best to keep it non-confrontational as in using indoor voices versus screaming, shouting, name calling, etc.

I get it’s a difficult situation and I’m sure you have very valid reasons to be hurt/frustrated/angry/confused /disappointed, but it’s kind of human nature for people to get on the defense if they feel they are being attacked, and when that happens people don’t really hear where you’re coming from – they can become busy thinking of excuses and defenses… which we don’t want!

Also, if someone is not ready or willing to change, there is only so much you can do!

This can be difficult to accept but it is important to take care of yourself in this process as well.

Talk to people you trust or reach out to peer support groups such as Al-Anon. You may also need to set some clear boundaries with that person. Such as not lending them money even if they insist is for something sooooo essential to life they just have to have it!

If you suspect it might be for drugs or alcohol, or you know they’ve used a similar line before, trust your instincts and stand firm. This can show them you are a person who cares about them and you will help them get better but won’t help them continue what they’re doing or get worse!

Below is a link to more information on support groups for people struggling with someone else’s substance use.

www.al-anon.alateen.org/

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