Some caring responsibilities aren’t always apparent to those looking in and can sometimes remain hidden because of stigma and lack of understanding. If you look after someone with an addiction it can hard, but you are not alone. Over 1.5 million adults in the UK are affected by a relative’s drug or alcohol use.

It’s important to talk to someone about your caring responsibilities no matter the situation and open up to a trusted friend, family member, manager at work, or teacher.

If you haven’t already, register with us here or call us on 0800 181 4118 to find out the support that’s available to you as a carer. You can also come along to our carers cafes or support groups without registering with us. Find out what’s on here. 

There are also lots of organisations that may be able to help you:

Adfam – information, local support groups and helplines for anyone affected by someone else’s substance use. They have a carers guide and information around coping skills and setting boundaries.

Al-Anon Family Groups – provide support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking, regardless of whether that person is still drinking or not.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Families Anon – helpline for relatives and friends concerned about drug use.

Frank – free national drugs helpline https://www.talktofrank.com/

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

National Association for Children of Alcoholics – information, advice and support for everyone affected by a parent’s drinking.

The Royal College of Psychiatry also have a factsheet for carers about alcohol, drugs and addition. It includes advice on what sort of questions to ask and what this process may involve.

Jane’s Story

“It is difficult to accept that your partner has a problem with alcohol, especially if you have no experience of this.

With hindsight my partner always enjoyed a drink but I think I was constantly trying to make excuses for it and not acknowledging that he had a problem. Over the years the problem became much worse until he was drinking from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed.  Obviously this had a very detrimental effect on his health and he was in and out of hospital for many years with very severe medical problems which included seizures. The attitude of most medical staff was quite unsympathetic as they did not seem to understand that alcoholism is an illness that cannot always be controlled. My partner ended up being only interested in alcohol and was very depressed. He would do anything to get hold of alcohol even when he did not have any money and even resorted to stealing from me.  He stopped eating and had no interest in life, I ended up having to shower him and help him with his personal care.

For some-one who has no knowledge of alcoholism the most difficult part is not being able to help them, which is something I did not realise. At the end of the day they must want to give up alcohol.  My partner went to various AA meetings but would not commit completely and although he did give up alcohol for short periods of time he always went back to drinking.

I think for someone who looks after an alcoholic there is always a feeling of shame and trying to hide it from relatives and neighbours.”