Ten holiday tips to help support parents and families struggling with a loved one’s alcohol and other drug use
1. Look after yourself
The holiday period can be a stressful time of the year for everyone, but when you’re concerned about a loved one’s alcohol or other drug use the pressure can feel overwhelming.
💡 Try to factor in something rewarding each day for yourself, even if it’s just scheduling in some daily time out.
💡 Not over committing yourself over this time can work well too.
2. Involve them
💡 If possible, try to include your loved one who has been affected by alcohol and other drug use in family gatherings and activities. This can provide a sense of belonging and stability.
3. Set boundaries and expectations
The unpredictability of what may or may not happen can be stressful.
💡 Let your loved one know up front what behaviour will and will not be tolerated and what the consequences will be if they behave in a way that makes others feel uncomfortable or puts others at risk.
💡 Ensure they take responsibility for their own behaviour and choices.
💡 If they can’t agree to your rules and expectations, you may have to decide not to include them in family gatherings.
4. Collaborate in decision making
Parents and partners often find that the responsibility falls on their shoulders to manage their loved one’s behaviour at various gatherings. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone.
💡 Involve other family members in discussions and decision making about how difficult or disorderly behaviour will be handled by all the family.
💡 You could suggest an alcohol-free gathering, or suggest meeting for breakfast instead of dinner so that alcohol can be avoided.
5. Model responsible behaviour
💡 If you decide to have a drink try not to drink too much or engage in drug taking behaviour in front of your loved one.
6. Remind yourself that you can’t control their behaviour
Their behaviour is their choice. You didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it and you can’t control it. All you can do is cope with it.
💡 It can be helpful to have clear and honest conversations with your loved one about how their behaviour impacts you and the rest of the family and what your fears are before the holiday season begins.
7. Violence should never be tolerated
Under no circumstances should violence or aggression be tolerated.
📞 If you are concerned in any way about your own, or someone else’s physical safety call 000.
8. Be aware of the tendency to put your life on hold
It can be easy to turn all your attention onto your loved one who’s using alcohol or other drugs. Often, family members are more in crisis than the person using substances.
💡 Keep up with your usual interests, hobbies and social groups, these are the things that will sustain you.
9. Don't neglect other family members
Although it is easy to get caught up in worry about your loved one, try to consider the other people in your family.
💡 Make time for your partner or your other children.
💡 Try not to get so focussed on your loved one that others feel forgotten.
10. Get help - the most important tip of all
📞 Call the Parent and Family Drug Support Line on 9442 5050 (metro) / 1800 653 203 (country callers) - available 24/7, even over the holidays.
Ask to speak to a counsellor and/or Parent Peer Volunteer who has Lived Experience. They understand what you are going through and can help you with ideas for what may work well for your family over the holiday period and direct you to different services that could suit your needs.