February 22, 2021

How can I help? Advice for family and friends

Father and son supporting each other

Knowing how to support someone experiencing issues with alcohol or other drugs can be overwhelming.

Where do you go to get help? What resources are out there to support you?

Talking to someone you trust is a great place to start.

It’s also important to reflect on how you can help - if you’re not in a position to be someone’s main support person, that’s OK.

There are resources and services that specialise in supporting family and friends. These services can help you feel better prepared to support your loved one.

Understanding the effects of alcohol and other drugs

There’s lots of information out there on alcohol and other drugs.

Learning about different substances and their effects can help you understand why someone might use alcohol or other drugs, why their behaviour may have changed, and how it can be challenging for them to cut back or stop.

There are also great resources with tips to help you have a conversation with the person you care about. You can find them here:

Looking after yourself

Taking care of yourself is just as important as helping others.

Your own wellbeing shouldn’t be placed on hold due to another person’s journey.1 In fact, reducing your stress can ultimately lead to you being more helpful to the people who need you the most.1

So, remember to put time aside for yourself, this might mean:

  • finding 20 minutes in your day to exercise
  • staying connected with friends
  • planning quality family time
  • focussing on your own job, instead of worrying about your loved one’s employment
  • looking after your own finances first and foremost.1

There are also tools you can use for immediate stress relief such as these anxiety management strategies, which are great to help your mind and body relax.

Directing energy toward your strengths and the things you enjoy are great ways to find moments of joy, and improve your health and happiness.1


Path2Help is an intuitive online tool designed to help you find support and information tailored to the specific needs of your loved ones who use alcohol and other drugs.

Just plug in your personal answers to no more than 11 questions and the app will automatically sift through more than 7,000 specialist services to provide you with the best matches for your alcohol or drug concerns.

You’ll be matched with alcohol and drug education resources that can help you manage conflict and difficult conversations, find alcohol and drug counselling and rehab services, drug facts and more.

You don’t need to know what you’re looking for, Path2Help’s intuitive search function does it all for you.

Available support services

People who use alcohol and other drugs are often stigmatised, and this stigma can prevent someone from reaching out for help.

Many Australians use drugs or are affected by alcohol and other drug use, however, so it’s important that you - or the person you are trying to support - feel safe asking for help.

Non-judgemental and confidential support services are available.

There are phone support services for families and friends in Australia. While they are based in different states, they all take calls from around the country and are open 24/7.

These support services provide a safe space to talk to someone about what you’re going through and your concerns. They offer information, strategies, and referrals:

There are also organisations that provide useful family programs and resources:


Provides a program for families, including information on the effects of alcohol and other drugs, strategies for discussing drug use, how to set boundaries, how to develop safety plans, self-care tips, and how to navigate the drug treatment system.

First Stop

A website for families affected by alcohol and other drugs. First Stop provides information on how to look after yourself and your family, how to navigate services, information on alcohol and other drugs, as well as personal stories.

Cracks in the Ice

An online toolkit that provides evidence-based resources and information on crystal methamphetamine (ice) for families and friends. Also includes information on the key support services available in Australia.

Family and Friends Support Program

An online support program focussing on resilience and wellbeing. The program provides information on how to help a loved one who uses crystal methamphetamine (ice), as well as how to manage different challenges.

Positive Choices

Provides resources for parents or guardians who are looking for information on alcohol and other drugs as well as advice on what they can do, and how to start a conversation with their young person.

More information:

Each state and territory has a central alcohol and drug information service that provides counselling, information, and referrals to support and treatment services:

ACT: (02) 51249977

NSW: (02) 9361 8000 (Sydney) or 1800 422 599 (NSW)

VIC: 1800 888 236

NT: 1800 131 350

QLD: 1800 177 833

SA: 1300 131 340

TAS: 1800 250 015

WA: (08) 9442 5000 (Perth) or 1800 198 024 (WA)

Other useful support phone lines:

Family Drug Support (NSW): 1300 368 186

Family Drug Help (VIC): 1300 660 068

Parent and Family Drug Support Line (WA): 1800 653 203

Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277

Parentline: see website for the phone number in your state/territory

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

Mensline: 1300 78 99 78

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

1800Respect: 1800 737 732

1. Turning Point, Self Help Addiction Resource Centre, The Bouverie Centre, Victoria State Government. Breakthrough: Ice education for families Victoria: Breakthrough for families. [Accessed: February 9, 2020].

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