"reducing alcohol and drug related harm in our communities"
Key Information


Taking the Lid Off - A Self Help Guide
Taking the Lid Off - A Self Help Guide
A booklet for someone living with another persons substance use.
Bouncing Back
Bouncing Back
A booklet for people living with stressful situations.
Substance Misuse and the Family

How Drug and Alcohol Use Impacts Families

Problem drug and alcohol use affects all those who care about the person, especially the family.  Problem drug and alcohol use can affect all aspects of family life, including social life, finances, family roles, relationships and communication.

Impact on familiesIt is common for families living with substance misuse to experience a range of emotions including guilt, shame, fear and isolation.  Living with addiction can put family members under unusual stress.  Alcohol/drug users can have very erratic and unpredictable behaviour and it can be difficult to know how they are going to act.  Normal routines may often be interrupted by unexpected or frightening events.  Family members may witness aggressive, angry and violent behaviour.     

Each family copes with substance use in their own unique way. However, there are recognised stages that families tend to go through when there is serious alcohol or drug use:

  • Denying - ignoring the problem, hoping it will go away
  • Enabling - inadvertently enabling drug/alcohol use to continue by paying debts, lying to cover up for the user, tolerating very difficult behaviour, buying drugs/alcohol for the user, etc
  • Controlling - taking control of the user’s life and drug/alcohol use in an attempt to make them stop using
  • Apathy - withdrawing, casting the user out of the family home, giving up.

Getting Support

Often, a family cannot cope with the impact of addiction on their own.  Family support services can help you to acknowledge some of the problems and feelings you may be experiencing. A drug/alcohol user can only stop if they want to. If they are dependent on the drug, then it may be difficult for them to stop on their own.  Finding help is the best thing you can do for you and your family member

You can download information and self-help resources from this website and we have provided a list of helping agencies here that you can contact. Additionally you could talk to your G.P. who can provide advice and link you to services.

Help for Adults and Family Members
Help for Adults and Family Members
See what supports are available for adults and other family members
Help for Young People and Families
Help for Young People and Families
See what help is available for young people and their family

23 Bridge Street,
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239