Caring for someone with substance abuse or alcohol problems

Caring for someone with substance abuse or alcohol problems

Having someone in the family with substance abuse or alcohol problems can have a devastating affect. But there's support for carers in Surrey.

When a person uses illegal drugs or misuses alcohol, it is not only them that’s affected – the impact can be far-reaching. Family, friends, children and partners are all affected.

It’s estimated millions of UK families and children are living with the impact of a loved one’s substance or alcohol abuse.

Coping as a carer

You may not easily recognise yourself as a carer but you are. Your life will involve both supporting the person you care for, but additionally feeling the broader damaging effects of their addiction on yourself and the rest of your family. The impact is probably practical, financial and emotional – with the emotional affect for many being the hardest to manage.

Additionally, there’s a lot of stigma and secrecy around addiction, so you may find it harder to ask for help. But it’s important that you do.

Looking after yourself

Looking after yourself is particularly important. Take a look at our wellbeing pages – and our suggestions on emotional support.

Carer’s Assessment

As with other carers, you are entitled to ask for an assessment of your needs. Read more about Carer’s Assessments here.

Support from ACS

We can talk to you about your caring situation and suggest ways to help, let you know about ACS events and support groups, as well as signpost you on to further sources of help, from the council. NHS and other charities and community groups.

If you’ve any kind of query at all, please get in touch with our Helpline. Call us on 0303 040 1234 or email [email protected]. You can also text us (SMS) on 07723 486730.

Support groups

We have support groups running regularly across Surrey,40+ each month. These are a chance to talk to others who understand, and share tips and advice. They are very relaxed, informal get-togethers – held at places like local cafes. Find out about our support groups here.

Online forums

if you can’t get to a group, you might like to chat to others in a similar situation in an online forum or community, like Carers UK’s. You’ll find other carers looking after people with substance abuse or alcohol problems, sharing advice, tips and support.


Action for Carers run occasional events for carers who are looking after someone with substance abuse or alcohol problems, such as information days or workshops, usually with guest speakers.

We also have general events that may help you, about looking after yourself as a carer, and social activities. Take a look at all our upcoming events here.

For younger carers

Many young adult carers, and carers under 18, are caring for someone with substance abuse or alcohol problems, often a parent. We have specific support for both these groups with our Young Adult Carers service and Surrey Young Carers.

Take a look at our video showing young carers from families where there are substance abuse or alcohol problems, as they have a break and talk about our support helps them.

Other organisations

There are lots of helpful organisations that can help you.

In Surrey

Catalyst works in a number of ways to alleviate the damage to – and promote the health of – people in Surrey affected by drug and alcohol problems, and with wellbeing issues such as depression, stress and anxiety.

They have help for family, friends and carers, including support groups. More on their website, or you can call them on 01483 590 150. Or take a look at their general leaflet.

A big part of their offer, is ‘safe havens’, which provide people experiencing a mental health crisis with professional, and welcoming out-of-hours help. Safe havens are in Aldershot, Camberley, Epsom, Guildford, Redhill and Woking. They are an alternative to A&E for those experiencing mental health problems and their carers.


There’s a number of national organisations that can help.

Adfam has a helpline and provides information and support groups for families, carers and friends affected by someone’s substance misuse. On their website you’ll find a range of helpful guides for carers.

They also have a set of online support videos for families affected by a loved one’s substance use. Each video is around 15 minutes in length, and across the 14 sessions, you will work through a range of different themes and topics, providing valuable information and guidance on how to cope with your loved one’s substance use. These videos are available  here.

Adfam family videos

Al-Anon Family Groups support family and carers whose lives are (or have been) being affected by someone’s drinking.

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics provides support and information to anyone affected by a parent’s drinking.

Social enterprise, Turning Point provides health and social care services, particular supporting people with drug and alcohol misuse and mental health problems. They have a free Carers Wellbeing Guide, with advice on issues such as practising self-care, letting go of negative emotions including sadness or resentment and taking breaks to have a chance to rest. Useful for anyone caring for a friend or family member whether they are struggling with mental health issues, addiction or any other long term conditions.

Not found