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Substance Abuse: The Role of Family

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Service members endure many stressful events during their time in the military. Between training, deployment, and reintegration, they can carry a lot on their shoulders. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to dependence on alcohol and drugs. Service members may use substances to find relief from a number of things including bad memories, depression, and painful injuries.

At times, family members of these service members may feel helpless. They have not had the same experiences as the service member, and may not feel that they have the right to speak up about their loved one’s problem. But family members usually know the service member best, and can provide great support. Dealing with substance dependence is a long and difficult journey. The best thing you can do is to focus on your loved one, not their dependence.

When helping your loved one, it is recommended to:

  • Listen- their concerns are important
  • Offer your support- it may seem implied but it will be appreciated
  • Help- with the form of treatment they have chosen
  • Consult- with professional advice.

It is NOT recommended to:

  • Interrupt or make the situation about yourself
  • Set goals that cannot be met
  • Offer money
  • Panic

Remember to stay positive and look after yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in another person’s problems when you care so deeply about them. However, you cannot give them your best support unless you take care of yourself.