How can friends and family help?

This section is for friends and family who want to help someone with a mental health problem who also uses street drugs or alcohol, or someone who is experiencing mental health problems as a result of taking street drugs.

If your friend or family member has mental health problems and also takes street drugs or alcohol, it can be very difficult to know how to help them. If they have severe problems, the reality may be that there is a limit to the amount of support you can give and how much you can get them to change. However, there are some things you can do that might be helpful.

Encourage them to seek appropriate help

If you are concerned that your friend or family member needs help, encourage them to seek appropriate treatment. This can be difficult, particularly if they are seeking help for the first time, as they may be worried about being judged for their drug use or about what will happen if the drugs they use are illegal. You can reassure them that it is okay to seek help, and perhaps help them decide where to go for support.

Support them to use services

In supporting your friend or family member to use services to address their use of street drugs, you can help them find out what services are available locally, go with them to whatever services you or they have identified, and support them to make the most of the services they are using. Also, you could go to meetings with their support workers and doctors to help them provide the most suitable care for your friend or family member.

Encourage them to carry on with treatment

If your friend or family member is taking part in a drug treatment programme or receiving a talking treatment, you may be able to encourage them to stick to their treatment plan, go to appointments, or meet their targets.

Spend positive time with them

Let your friend or family member know that you are there for them. Be honest with them. Listen to them if they want to talk, and spend time together, or join in with the activities they enjoy.

Look after yourself

It can be very difficult to try and support someone whose problems are associated with their use of street drugs or alcohol. You may find it helpful to discuss your feelings and concerns with someone else, such as a counsellor, or to join a support group.


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