Alcohol Abuse

The best way to support your loved one if they are using drugs and alcohol, is to help them seek relevant treatment.

The goal of treatment is to reduce any harm to their physical and mental wellbeing, or to those around them.  Often as family you see things they themselves can’t; like changes in their thinking, mood or the way they interact with you and others.  You might want to tell them to stop using and you may have tried to help, but you can’t force them to change – they need to make the choice themselves.


Here are some tips you can use to support your loved one: 

  • Be supportive and respectful.  This does not mean you have to support their drug or alcohol use; it means you are supporting them emotionally.  You can listen, talk about what is going on and let them know they’re not alone.

  • Help them stay connected with friends to encourage them to maintain positive relationships so they can access social support.

  • Encourage them to continue doing things that naturally help improve mood like sport, music, learning a new skill, volunteering or even simply getting outdoors – drug and alcohol free.

  • Ask them what you can do to help them.  Often providing practical support, such as helping with cooking or household chores can take some of the pressure off.

  • Encourage them to talk with you or someone they trust about what is worrying them.  These worries might be what triggers their drug and alcohol use.

  • Help them find information and advice about drug and alcohol use online, over the phone or in person.  If they are not interested, you might suggest it again at a later time, but be careful not to hassle them about it.  You could also encourage them to contact Beyond Blue for some advice.

  • Remember that change takes time.  Be patient and acknowledge their achievements, no matter how small, even if you don’t understand what they’re doing or why.


It’s also important to take care of your own health and wellbeing during this time.  Look after your own mental, physical and emotional health by taking time out to do things you enjoy, and have your own supportive friends to call on when you need it.  You might also find that at times you need a break, and that’s OK too.  Just make sure your loved one knows when you will be back so they don’t feel rejected or alone.


Here are some valuable resources to learn more about supporting a loved one with alcohol and drug abuse:


You might also want to encourage your loved one to use this simple tool to help them identify if they could benefit from changing their drinking habits: 5 Minute Drinking Audit.


If you are concerned about the wellbeing of your loved one or need advice, contact the independent counselling service (Employee Assistance Program), free for WA Police Force employees and their immediate family members, available 24/7 on 1300 687 327.