Being there for a young person who has alcohol or other drug issues is a long road. Worry, frustration, anger, disappointment and guilt are all normal emotions that a loved one may experience – and they are all draining.

Many parents and loved ones, on hearing that their child is using drugs, invest their energy in trying to get a child into treatment or intervene in their substance use. What seems like the obvious next step in the eyes of a loved one may not be shared by the young person themselves and the resulting, resistance and conflict can make you feel like you are going round in circles ‘Why won’t they just get help!’

Loved ones who get caught up in this cycle run the risk of being burnt out and  ‘just sick of it’ when a young person finally does decide it is time to reach out for help.


Parents and loved ones who have been through this before will tell you one of the most powerful things you can do is actually focus some energy on yourself.

Research indicates that healthy family functioning enables the family to be a source of strength for all its members – including a young person who is using substances. A strong family base can have a huge impact on a young person’s ability to make changes and stick to them in the long run. Likewise, a family comprising of a burnt out, frustrated, angry members ‘at their wits end’ is not an ideal place for a young person using alcohol or other drugs to seek support.

Keeping yourself sane and healthy for the long haul is paramount. 

one of the most powerful things you can do is actually focus some energy on yourself.
  • Do surround yourself with support (and consider seeing a counsellor). This strengthens you for the journey ahead and role models help seeking to your loved one.
  • Do remember that you are in a unique position to create a safe and healthy environment for a young person to recover in – when they are ready. Start working on that today.
  • Do talk to people who understand. We recommend Family Drug Support or Family Drug Help.
  • Do remember you’ll be a better supporter to your loved one if you are healthy and well supported yourself.