Advice and Information

Knowing how to deal with a drug user is complicated and difficult.  We hope that the advice and information on this page may help you.

Firstly finding help for yourself is the best thing that you can do for your family.


  • A user can only stop if they want to. It may be that a user has become dependent; if this is true, then it will be very difficult for them to stop and they will probably need treatment.  However, with the right help and support a dependent drug/alcohol user can stop using.
  • The family can be a vital avenue of support for users and can provide the hope and inspiration that they need to turn their lives around.  But often, the family cannot do it alone.
  • Families feel embarrassed, often ashamed, to reveal to others what is happening and their need for help. People who work with families know this and won’t judge you; indeed they usually admire the courage that families show in asking for help.
  • Make sure that you are getting the help, support and advice you need - both to be able to help the user and to live your life as best you can. You can try and help a substance using family member, but coming off drugs/alcohol is a very difficult process - ultimately someone will only seek treatment or help if they want it.


What sort signs are there that someone might be using drugs?

There are some general types of behaviour that might indicate drug use:

  • Erratic behaviour
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Restlessness and fidgeting
  • Slow or slurred speech
  • Extreme hyperactivity and talking for long periods of time about nothing in particular
  • Total inactivity - not wanting to move or do anything at all
  • Enlarged or very small pupils (this can change depending on what drug is taken)

Remember that there may be other reasons for different behaviours which are not to do with drug use - many would just associate erratic behaviour with a normal teenager, for example.

It is usually difficult to ‘prove’ drug or alcohol use when a family member won’t come clean and tell you - you may have to ask them directly, but such a conversation needs to be conducted carefully. Try not to be judgmental or accusatory, and before you tackle the subject.

  • Inform yourself about different drugs and how to talk about them
  • Consider your motives and what it means to you if they are using drugs/alcohol - are you worried about their safety? How it is affecting their behaviour or lifestyle? The police?
  • Try to adopt an attitude of caring curiosity when having a conversation about drugs/alcohol, especially if you are discussing it for the first time.


Useful Links