Hesperian Health Guides

Living with someone who has a drinking or drug problem

Often women must care for someone, like a partner or a male relative, who has a drinking or drug problem. Living with someone with these problems is very difficult, especially if the person does not want to change. You can help yourself and your family if you:
a woman and 4 small children looking sadly at a man who has passed out from drinking

Women whose partners use injection drugs are at risk for getting HIV and hepatitis.

  • do not blame yourself. It is not always possible to help another person control his or her drug or alcohol use.
  • try not to rely on the person’s opinion of you to feel good about yourself.
  • try to find a support group for you and your family. Sometimes this is the only way a family can cope with the problem.

How to help someone with a drinking or drug problem:

  • Help him admit he has a problem. This may be all that is needed for him to use less or stop, unless he is addicted.
  • Talk to him about stopping when he is not drunk or on drugs.
  • Try not to blame him.
  • Help him to avoid situations where he may feel pressured to drink or take drugs. This means not being with people with the same problem, even if they are friends.
  • Help him to find other ways to cope with life’s problems and to have better mental health.
  • Help him make a plan for stopping and follow that plan.
a young woman speaking
I found out I was a people gatherer...What got me to move forward was other people around me. I did not think of myself as a leader, but there I was, getting people together to talk about this.
Bonnie, from the USA, talks of her struggle with her husband’s drinking. She now works with Al-Anon.

Al-Anon is an organization like AA, that provides support and help for family members of alcoholics.

More Information
helping relationships

This page was updated:13 Jun 2019