Family Care Giver

Why caring for your relative’s/friend’s health is important

Many people in the UK use alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs frequently, which means that many families include at least one person who may be experiencing problems with them. This isn’t just a problem for the person who is drinking or using drugs: it can seriously impact the rest of the family. Many families try to cope with this on their own – perhaps because they don’t know where to get help, feel ashamed, or have tried to get help before but had poor experiences.

If you’re part of a family that’s caring for someone with a substance problem whose health is poor, this website is for you.

We want you to know that:

  1. You are not alone and there is no shame in caring for someone with a substance problem.
  2. Everyone deserves good healthcare.
  3. Whatever your relative says, if you feel that their substance use is a problem, then it is a problem that you deserve help with. Getting help in your own right is important for you and is also likely to help your loved one’s wellbeing.
  4. Many people with substance problems recover, but the sad fact is that some do not.
  5. If you don’t get the right help on your first attempt, please keep trying other options.

Why you need and deserve support

You and your family/friendship network may be under a lot of strain caring for a loved one with a substance problem – with a lot of self-questioning and uncertainty about what to do for the best. Your family may have become quite isolated: you may feel ashamed about your loved one’s behaviour and fear that others are judging you. As your loved one’s health deteriorates, you may find your caring role escalating.

You and everyone supporting your loved ones will be working hard to keep them alive and healthy. But thousands of families experience the death of a relative with a substance problem every year in the UK. Any death is difficult, but bereavement, where the relative had an alcohol/drug problem, is particularly painful. Many people who experience this kind of loss feel that ordinary bereavement support doesn’t meet their needs, because it doesn’t acknowledge the additional emotional pain of having loved someone with a substance problem.

FCG leaflet (AC UK, Adfam)

Many families experience an enormous amount of strain in trying to care for a relative with a substance problem. Sometimes this arises from the relative denying that they have a problem, other times it can be linked to the loved one’s behaviour and the day-to-day worry of caring for them. This leaflet shares some insight into what life is like for families caring for a member with a substance problem whose health is deteriorating.

FCG pocket guide

This pocket guide is for anyone who cares for someone using alcohol/other drugs who has ongoing poor health. You may live with them or you may live far away, but if you are worried about their health, then this guide is for you. It aims to help you think about how best to support your relative/friend and is also designed to help you access support for yourself.

Case studies

These case studies give some examples of real-life families, friends and carers and their experiences of supporting someone who was using substances and becoming increasingly unwell.

Videos & Podcasts

These podcasts have been created for people who are caring for others who use alcohol or other drugs (or have done so in the past) and have advancing ill health. They acknowledge the challenges of caring and also provide some insights into what others in that situation have learnt.

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