About Substance Abuse

How to Take Care of Yourself When a Loved One Has a Substance Use Disorder

Dealing with the substance use crisis of someone you love is extremely stressful. You may feel helpless, scared, or confused. You desperately want them to seek treatment. The fear and anxiety about their well-being can consume your life.

That’s why it’s so important that you take care of yourself so you can help support them in their recovery. Here are some things you can do to help cope with having a loved one struggle with substance use disorder.


Get Support

This might be by connecting with family members or friends who have gone through similar situations, relying on your faith community or engaging in social or community activities you enjoy.

Many people find support groups specifically focused on helping loved ones of those struggling with a substance use disorder helpful. You can reach out to your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter to find support resources in your community.

Seek Help

When your loved one is dealing with a substance use disorder, your focus is understandably on helping them get the support and treatment they need. But it’s also important for you to take care of your own mental health needs. May need to link this to the HealthyBR resource database.

Take Time for Yourself

Taking care of yourself and making sure you’re meeting your emotional, physical, social and psychological needs can go a long way toward helping you cope with the stress and anxiety of having a loved one struggle with a substance use disorder. That can look different for different people, but the important thing is that you pay attention to your body and your needs and take steps to ensure those needs are met. Some things you can do include:

  1. Take care of your body. Get enough rest. Schedule check-ups and regular doctor visits. Eat healthy foods that nourish your body.

  2. Get enough physical activity. Exercise has been shown over and over again to positively impact our mental health. To get the mental health benefits of exercise, you should aim for at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.

  3. Make time to unwind. Enjoy your favorite hobby, read, or engage in a relaxing outdoor activity and soak up vitamin D. Take frequent breaks to unplug and recharge.