How to help someone else

If you’re worried about a family member or friend who you think may be struggling with alcohol or other drugs or has a behaviour issue such as gambling addiction or online gaming then it’s good to know where to start. There are solutions and there are things you can do to help.

What to look for

There are certain signs we can help you look for to see if your intuition about your family member or friend is right.

Do they:

  • Have sudden changes in behaviour or mood?
  • Seem to withdraw from family commitments or regular gatherings?
  • Appear careless about their personal appearance?
  • Increasingly lose interest in work, family, hobbies or favourite pastimes?
  • Neglect their responsibilities?

These aren’t all the initial screening and assessment criteria we would use to look at someone’s situation but they can give you a guide as to whether this person is in trouble. Ask yourself if their behaviour has become erratic. Are they having financial difficulties or struggling with sleep?

Most telling perhaps, do they feel confronted when you try and talk about what’s going on for them? If the answer is yes to any of these questions then your intuition is probably right.

Who you can call

There are many different forms of support available and treatment can be tailored to your loved-one's needs. Remember, there is no need to wait until a crisis, taking action and getting support early gives them the best chance at getting better, and shows great strength. 

Stay positive and try to avoid making them feel guilty or rejected or threatened in a way that might drive them away. They are lucky to have you but you aren’t going to be the one that can fix them, they have to do that bit for themselves.

If it's an emergency, call 000 for ambulance or police services now.

There are other confidential crisis support telephone numbers to call that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

  • Lifeline telephone counselling 13 11 14 
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

You can suggest they try a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous (1300 222 222 for Victoria) and you should see if you can get them to call the confidential telephone service DirectLine (1800 888 236) which will direct them to the service that’s best suited to their needs.

And finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. It’s common and completely understandable that you are going to want to focus on the person with the problem but don’t forget that the stress of coping can also affect your physical and mental wellbeing. Speak to a counsellor or contact DirectLine to find a local service for support.