We recognise it can be hard for young people to access services, but we don’t often talk about that fact that it can be equally difficult for families to get help for themselves or be willing to be involved in a young person’s treatment.

Fear of being judged or blamed, concerns that you’ll be made to “open up” or be “put on the spot”,  or simply fear of the unknown often prevent family members from seeking support even when they readily seek help for a young person they care about.

This is despite that fact that when a family is in a position to be included in some way in treatment and support, this tends to have better outcomes for a young person and recognises that families and carers can play a big part in helping a young person overcome a drug or alcohol problem. This is the opposite of approaches that separate young people from families and community in order to fix problems.


There is no single treatment approach or model but instead many ways you may get support.

Family or carers supporting a young person with an alcohol or drug problem are often encouraged to “get support for themselves”. This means focusing specifically on your needs as a carer.

Services such as Family Drug Support and Family Drug Help are the best places to start here.

There is no single treatment approach or model but instead many ways you may get support.

In addition, beyond including you in a young person’s care and support many drug and alcohol services often offer specific family treatment interventions. These may take the form of

  • Family sessions where family members and a young person attend together
  • Sessions where family members are offered time with a counsellor separate to a young person
  • A combination of sessions for family, family and young person and young person separately.

Aside from family programs specifically addressing drug and alcohol issues, support programs exist that offer more general family support and therapy or that address other issues. Whilst they don’t necessarily have a drug or alcohol focus they can help families work through issues that may have an impact on a young person’s drug or alcohol use.