Substances, alcohol or drugs

Drugs and alcohol are involved in many family arguments in different ways. Some arguments can be about the consumption of drugs and alcohol. Other arguments are about something completely different but are made more difficult if someone is under the influence.

  • Drinking alcohol with friends
  • Going to parties
  • Smoking cannabis
  • Taking party drugs
  • Coming home after drinking or taking drugs
  • Other family members alcohol or drug use
  • Previous addictions and their impact
  • I have no freedom
  • They treat me like a child
  • I feel controlled
  • I get angry
  • They are not able to care for me
  • Arguments get out of control
  • I feel left out by my friends
  • We never have any money

What can I do to make things better?

  • What do you need?

    Try to explain to the other person what you need and why rather than what the problem is. Example:


    “You’re so lazy! All you do is go out drinking on a Friday night and spend the rest of the weekend in bed.”


    "We hardly see each other it would be nice to spend some time with you."

    If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse seek advice from your doctor or agencies such as Scottish Drug Services Directory.

  • See it from their side

    Try and see the situation from the other person’s point of view.

    Person 1

    "I’m only having a few drinks with my mates, I’m not a child there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    Person 2

    "She comes back in some states, she can hardly stand up, she’s aggressive and swears at me. I don’t mind a few drinks but I’m just worried she won’t come home one night."

  • Be honest

    Talk about alcohol and drugs. Ask questions and explain how you feel. Remember that your family have a duty of care for you, most of the time they are probably just looking out for you.

    Additionally, there are professional services that could help to give you support with drugs and alcohol.

  • Consider alternatives

    Consider lots of options to solve the problem.

    It’s difficult to change things if we aren’t honest with each other and ourselves. Even if the truth doesn’t make you look great, being honest is the first step to making things better.

    Try talking about other ways to make things better that you both think might work.

Time and Space

Finding a good time and place to talk with your family about stuff is important.

Make sure you won’t be interrupted by anyone else.

Choose a time where you are both around - not 5 minutes before one of you has to run out the door.

It helps if you’re not already angry with each other about something else.

Conflict Resolution and Mediation

After working through the steps above and considering your own situation, you may find it helpful to know more about conflict resolution and mediation.

Sam is much happier now that he and his mum know how to deal with their arguments better.

If you get together and talk about it, I've often seen people come up with much better solutions themselves.

Paul Burns, Mediator

We still have our arguments, but we deal with them a lot better now.

Kerry, Sam's Mum

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