People use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs for many reasons. Some people use these substances to help them to relax, to feel more lively, to feel less inhibited or to feel pleasure. Others find the effects of substances make it easier for them to cope with problems.

Substance use can be problematic for people and particularly their families, even when they are not highly dependent or addicted to the substance. It becomes a problem when it starts to impact on important elements of daily life, including work, family, and/or friendships.

Some of the more common substances that can be problematic include legal substances (alcohol, benzodiazepines: anti-anxiety drugs, painkillers with codeine in them like Nurofen Plus or Panadeine Extra/Forte and tobacco) and illegal substances including cannabis-marijuana, heroin and amphetamines including dexamphetamine without prescription, and ice. These are all drugs that can bring about high levels of dependence, and can be problematic even when used in low doses.

When we think about substance use problems, we often think of stereotypical ‘addicts’ or ‘druggies’ as the ones who have the ‘real’ problem. However, most who with substance use problems are just everyday people who might use substances to ease the stressors and difficult feelings of everyday life. However, often they use these substances in a way that makes their problems worse in the long-run.

If someone in your family is experiencing these concerns, it is important for them to seek help in order to manage this before it escalates to have a more severe impacts and longer-lasting impairment to functioning.

However, it is also important for the people who are close to them to get support for themselves. It can be very difficult to understand and cope with these behaviours when a loved one is refusing to seek help.

You may feel constantly down and stressed, and experience an inability to support the individual or others in your family because of it. You may also realise the problem is beginning to affect other areas of your life such as your relationships or concentration at work. If having a family member with this disorder is beginning to take a toll on your own wellbeing or ability to function, it may be beneficial for you to seek help as well.

Our psychologists are specialised in assisting in this area in a number of ways, including:

  • Help you or other members of your family acknowledge the problem
  • Providing emotional support for you to release any concerns or negative thoughts • Educating you on the best practices for reducing these behaviours
  • Assisting you in being the best support you can be for the individual and the rest of your family members that may be affected
  • Identify the underlying concerns that are affecting your own functioning, and address these by altering your negative thought patterns
  • Help to build up your own support system and self-care plan, in order to reduce any stress and maintain a positive daily life despite the negative circumstances
  • Working together to encourage the individual to accept help and take on their own form of counselling
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