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Supporting treatment

Families and carers can play an important role in supporting a loved one during treatment

Families and carers can acknowledge that their loved one is going through treatment and encourage them to believe they can change.

It can be a difficult time for the family and friends of the person entering treatment. Visit our Supporting yourself section to see what help and support is available.

Your involvement

Healthcare professionals can be reluctant to discuss a person’s diagnosis with the family, as there is a duty of confidentiality between the professional and the patient. However they will usually want your insight into the situation.

If your relative or person you are caring for is happy for you to attend meetings, the healthcare professional should be unlikely to refuse.


Good communication between all those involved in your loved one’s treatment is crucial, especially when more than one treatment agency is involved.

Questions you could ask the health professional:

  • The extent to which you can be involved;
  • Clarify the treatment options, waiting times and the proposed care plan ensuring both you and your loved one feel informed and involved;
  • What is the treatment goal? (e.g. abstinence/maintenance/reduction of risk);
  • Is there an experienced case manager who can co-ordinate between different treatment agencies;
  • What are the side-effects of any medication;
  • What are the likely effects of treatment and possible signs that treatment is not working and what you should do in this case.

Your relative may not want friends and family to be involved in or informed about their treatment. This can be devastating. It may be that you can show you care in other ways rather than through specific involvement in treatment.

Looking after yourself

It is important you seek support for yourself and maintain your own health and well-being.