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Talking to a loved one about alcohol & drugs

Bringing up the subject

If you are worried that a friend or relative may be misusing alcohol or drugs, the first thing you can try is to talk to them.

The more informed you are, the easier the conversation should be. Visit our basic alcohol & drugs awareness page.

You cannot force your loved one to change. They will only change when they are ready to do so. You can, however, talk to them about the behaviour you are seeing. Sharing your concerns and feelings may help give your relative a new perspective on the effects of their alcohol or drug use.

Be supportive and hopeful about change. Change is more effective when family members are involved.

These suggestions may help you with the conversation.

  • Find a time when you can both be alone in a calm environment;
  • Prepare yourself so that you know what you want to say and can speak clearly and in a non-judgmental way;
  • Strong emotions such as anger, anxiety, frustration or guilt can make the conversation difficult so try to remain calm;
  • Listen to what your relative has to say;
  • Use ‘I statements’ allowing you to take responsibility for your own feelings, rather than ‘you statements’ which blame the other person;
  • Show concern.

Read more

Our Talking to a loved one about drugs factsheet contains more information.