The Dos and Don’ts of Living With Someone Who Has A Drug or Alcohol Problem
We live in a society where individuals of every race, gender, religion, nationality and age can suffer from drug or alcohol dependency. Beyond the health issues, the stress and heartaches can be devastating to these individuals, their families and the people around them.  Families and close friends must recognize that there are services and programs available, including effective ways to approach individuals suffering with drug and alcohol problems. And the Nassau Alliance for Addiction Services (NAFAS) is a great place to start.

NAFAS (Nassau Alliance For Addiction Services) is a not-for-profit coalition of community service providers committed to delivering affordable, accessible and comprehensive prevention and treatment services for individuals and families faced with the consequences of drug, alcohol and other addictions and abuses, including gambling.

It is important to understand how to interact and help a family member, close friend or someone you live with who is suffering with a drug or alcohol problem.  Here are a few helpful hints and approaches that you should consider to help that person.

What You Should Dowhen someone is suffering from drug or alcohol dependency.

  • Gain an understanding of the disease concept – addiction is not a choice. You will be better equipped to deal with the situation if you are knowledgeable about the disease.
  • Remain calm, unemotional and factually honest in speaking about their behavior and its day-to-day consequences.
  • Let the person with the problem know that you are reading and learning about drug and alcohol abuse, attending Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Alateen or other support groups.
  • Discuss the situation with someone you trust – someone from your family, a clergy member, a social worker, a counselor, an individual who has experienced drug or alcohol abuse personally or a close friend.
  • Establish and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the home and try to include the drug/alcohol abuser in family life.
  • Explain that drug or alcohol abuse is personally harmful, and is a bad reflection on children in the family as well.
  • Encourage new interests and participate in leisure time activities that the person enjoys.
  • Refuse to drive with anyone who’s been drinking or using drugs.
  • Be patient and live one day at a time. Drug or alcohol addiction generally take a long time to develop, and recovery does not occur overnight. Try to accept setbacks and relapses with calmness and understanding.

What You Should Not Dowhen someone is suffering from drug or alcohol dependency.

  • Don’t attempt to punish, threaten, bribe or preach.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Avoid emotional appeals that may only increase feelings of guilt and/or the compulsion to drink or use drugs.
  • Don’t cover up or make excuses for the problem drinker or drug abuser. Shielding them from the realistic consequences of their behavior can deepen their dependencies and worsen the problem.
  • Don’t take over their responsibilities. This could leave them with no sense of importance or dignity.
  • Don’t hide or dump bottles, throw out drugs or shelter them from situations where drugs or alcohol are present.
  • Don’t argue with the person when they are impaired, high or under the influence.
  • Never try to drink along with the problem drinker or take drugs with the drug abuser.
  • Above all, DO NOT feel guilty or responsible for another person’s behavior.