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Info for Parents Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health

Take Action! Dealing with alcohol and other drug problems in your family

Raise the issue

When someone is having problems with alcohol or other drugs, they usually don't want to talk about it. Although it's hard to bring the topic up, it's important that you try. You may need to talk about it more than once. You may have to get other family members to support you when you talk to the person you're concerned about. And if you don't feel safe or comfortable about talking to the person, get help from a professional in your community.

Things You Can Do:

  1. If you think there is a problem in your family related to alcohol or other drugs, pick a good time to raise the issue. Try to include everyone in the family who is touched by the problem. Find time when people are calm and there are no distractions. Raising the issue when you are angry or when the person is drinking or using drugs is not a good time.
  2. Let the person know you care and that's why you're raising the issue.
  3. Have some specific events that you can refer to. Talk about the behavior that is the problem in a factual, honest way, rather than making general statements about the person. For example, “I was really concerned when you came home drunk last night,” is better than, “You're nothing but a drunk.”
  4. If you're unsure whether alcohol or drug use is causing the problem, check it out in a concerned way. Accusations can lead the person to deny the problem, even if one exists. Ask questions that encourage people to talk rather than give “yes” or “no” answers.
  5. Focus your comments on the effects the use of alcohol or other drugs has on you, others in the family and the person who's using.
  6. Offer support. Let the person know you're prepared to help change things that may be adding to the person's use of alcohol or other drugs.
  7. Discuss the problem with someone you trust to get support, like a family member, friend, a professional counsellor, your doctor or a member of the clergy.
  8. Learn as much as you can about alcohol and other drug use and the help that's available in your community.

You can call CAMH's R. Samuel McLaughlin Information Centre at 1 800 463-6273.
In Toronto, call 416 595-6111.

You can also call the Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment (DART) at 1 800 565-8603 (www.dart.on.ca) to find out about withdrawal management services in your community and throughout Ontario.

Don't give up if the person doesn't want to talk about the issue, even though you may feel discouraged. Try again — maybe using a different approach.

CAMH Switchboard 416-535-8501
CAMH General Information Toronto: 416-595-6111 Toll Free: 1-800-463-6273
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Toronto, ON
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