How to look after yourself
Being close to someone who is drinking or using drugs can be stressful.
It’s really important to look after yourself or you risk getting run down and exhausted.
Put yourself first
When someone we care about is drinking or using drugs our lives often start to revolve around them.
We lose sight of what we need to stay healthy and happy ourselves.
But if we don’t look after ourselves, how can we support anyone else?
That’s why cabin crew on planes tell us to put on our own oxygen masks first if there’s an accident.
We can only help others if we’re getting enough oxygen ourselves.
Think about what your needs are.
It could be spending time outdoors, seeing people who make you laugh or buying yourself some flowers – whatever gives you a boost and keeps you going.
Build more of these small, positive rewards into your life.
Support the person, not their drinking or drug use
Do you feel like you’re always picking up the pieces for your loved one?
Do you try to protect them by covering up for them or keeping their drinking or drug use secret?
Sometimes we think we’re helping someone, but what we’re actually doing is cushioning them from the effects of their drinking or drug use.
Because you’re taking responsibility for your loved one’s actions, it’s easier for them to carry on as they are.
It’s more helpful to let your loved one deal with the consequences of their drinking or drug use where possible. This will help give them the motivation they need to change.
Think about how you can support the person you care about without supporting their alcohol or drug use.
This could mean helping them get to a medical appointment or supporting them to eat healthily. Or just checking in on them each week to see how they are.
Put some boundaries in place
When someone you care about is drinking or using drugs, life often feels chaotic and stressful.
Putting some clear boundaries in place can make things feel calmer and more manageable.
Boundaries are the limits we have when it comes to other people’s behaviour. For example, you may draw the line at having drugs in your home.
It’s helpful to see setting boundaries as something for you and your loved one to decide on together.
Ask for some time to talk things through. Be honest and try to stay calm and positive.
See more advice about setting boundaries.
Grow your support network
Building a strong support network is an important part of looking after yourself.
Being close to someone who drinks or uses drugs is hard to deal with on your own.
Think about your friends, family and neighbours. Who can you ask for support? Who have you not spoken to for a while?
With You offers free, confidential support to anyone affected by someone else’s drinking or drug use.
- Get in touch with your local With You service
- Talk to our team online
- Read our advice for friends and family
If you’re experiencing violent or abusive behaviour, you can call the free 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
If you’re seriously concerned about your own or someone else’s safety, call 999.