Coping with Drugs/Alcohol Use or Gambling?
Problematic substance use or gambling doesn’t just the affect the individual, but also their loved ones.
Living and dealing with a drug/alcohol user or gambler is a painful, difficult and often distressing experience that can have long-lasting emotional, behavioural and financial consequences to all those involved.
Some forms of coping may have emotional, physical or psychological impacts on you and your family.
What can I do to help me to cope better with my situation?
Gain information about substance misuse/gambling and the services that are available to both you and your loved one.
Seek some help
Seek some help and support for yourself – families need to recover too. Living with a substance user/gambler is an unstable and unpredictable environment. You may be finding it difficult to cope and as such may fall into coping strategies that are not particularly helpful to you or your situation. Family support services can help you identify these behaviours and teach you new ways to cope with difficult situations.
Don’t blame yourself
Many families blame themselves for their loved one’s drug and alcohol use or gambling situation, however there are many factors that contribute to problematic substance use and gambling.
Take care of yourself
You are important too. Living with a drug or alcohol user/gambler can be very emotionally draining and time consuming. Take some time away to enable you to focus on the positive things in your life.
Join a support group
You are not alone; there are many people like you. By joining a support group you will increase your social support network of people that you can call on and help you to cope.
Protect your finances
Money that you give your loved one for groceries, bills etc could be spent on financing their habit. Ensure you have a separate account that only you can access and take care of your own finances.
Often addiction can create co-dependent relationships in which family members or partners lie for and cover up for the individual. Some family members feel that this is a helpful thing to do, in fact it is quite the opposite and very often can enable the individual to continue their behaviour. You need to make it clear that you are no longer willing to be a part of your loved one’s actions.
Set clear boundaries
This may be distressing and particularly difficult for you to do, but you are important too. Setting boundaries can have a positive effect on the quality of your life and can also be helpful for your loved one too. You do not have to accept unacceptable behaviour.
Although your loved one may not be ready to change, you can make them aware that you are there to support them when they are ready.
Do not accept abusive or violent behaviour
If violence is a feature in your relationship, seek support to ascertain the options available to you in order to protect yourself and the rest of your family.
Learn to accept what you cannot change
Learning to accept what you cannot change is not easy. Accept that things are the way they are for now but that this is not necessarily the way they will always be.
The SIAS family and friends service can help you explore your current coping strategies. We recognise that this journey of exploration can be painfu,l but can be a healthy step to rebuilding your life.