It may be difficult to know what to do if you are worried about a family or friends alcohol use, or other drug use. It may be particularly concerning if you think someone you are close to is using alcohol and other drugs and not telling you about it. Explore this page to find out more.

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Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

Family Or Friends Alcohol Use or Other Drug Use

It may be difficult to know what to do if you are worried about someone's alcohol or other drug use. It may be particularly concerning if you think someone you are close to is using alcohol and other drugs and not telling you about it.friends alcohol use

Experimentation with drugs

It is not uncommon for young people to experiment with alcohol and other drugs. Experimentation may not necessarily lead to problem use. If you are concerned about someone's use of alcohol or other drugs it may be helpful to calmly talk to them about your concerns. Engaging them in a confrontational way may only alienate them.

Helping someone you think is using drugs

Helping someone who is not ready to change their behaviour may be difficult and the decision for them to get help is ultimately theirs. Sometimes we may get so concerned over someone else's drug use that we may not be looking after ourselves. It is important that you keep yourself safe. It may be helpful for you to talk to someone you trust about what is going on and how you feel. This may be a family member, teacher, school counsellor or youth worker.

Speaking with an organisation who specialises in drug and alcohol issues and treatment may be helpful for working out how best to approach your concerns. The Alcohol and Drug Information Service or Ted Noffs Foundation provide help and information for those who are using drugs and alcohol Check out the 'More information' section on this factsheet or the related links section for how to contact them.

If you approach the person you are concerned about there are several things you may want to consider before doing so.

Be informed

It is a good idea to have a general knowledge of some of the reasons for using drugs, the effects and how to use them safely. By doing this you are more able to stick to the facts. You may want to check out other Reach Out fact sheets on the left hand side of this page or the DrugInfo Clearinghouse website for more information on alcohol and other drugs.

Discuss alcohol and other drug issues openly

Letting the person you are concerned about know that you are open to listening to them without being judgmental. This may encourage them to discuss their drug use with you. Asking them what they think about the way the media discusses and portrays drug use may be a helpful conversation starter. If they know you are open minded on the issue and have thought about your own use they may be more likely to feel comfortable discussing it with you.

Talk about safer use

Give the person you are concerned about information about where they can get information about safer drug use. You may want to check out Reach Out's Safer drug use fact sheet for organisations that can help.

What to do if someone says they have a problem

friends alcohol useAcknowledging drugs are a problem may be a big step. If someone has come to you saying they have a problem, you may be able to assist them by finding out what help is available in your local area. Your local doctor, counsellor, hospital, community health centre, Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) or youth worker are people who may be able to help.

Check out Reach Out's Getting help for drug use factsheet for more info on who can help or the beyondblue Directory of Medical and Allied Health Practitioners for a doctor or counsellor. Look up 'Community Health Services' in the White Pages to find your local community health centre. Contact details for ADIS is listed at the end of this fact sheet.

Affected by someone's drug problem?

Sometimes it is sensible to seek help and advice yourself if someone's behaviour, due to an alcohol or other drug problem, is impacting on your life. You may feel overly anxious or protective of the person with a problem or their behaviour towards you may be threatening or violent.

Remember you can seek support and advice for yourself. A counsellor, doctor or youth worker are people who may be able to help you. Check out Reach Out's Who can help you section for more information about how they can help. For contact details for ADIS check out more information below.

More information

Alcohol and Drug Information Service Numbers in each Australian state

  • NSW Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) - (02)¬†9361¬†8000 or 1800 422 599 in rural and regional NSW.
  • Directline (Victorian Based)- 1800 888 236
  • SA ADIS - (08)¬†8363¬†8618 or 1300 131 340
  • WA ADIS - (08)¬†9442¬†5000 or 1800 198 024
  • QLD ADIS - (07)¬†3837¬†5989 or 1800 177 833
  • Tasmanian ADIS - (03)¬†9416¬†1818 or 1800 811 994
  • NT ADIS - 1800 629 683 or Alice Springs (08)¬†8951¬†7580 or Darwin (08)¬†8922¬†8399
  • NT Amity House - (08)¬†8944¬†6565 or 1800 684 372
  • ACT ADIS - (02)¬†6205¬†4545
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