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Resources for Families Coping with Mental and Substance Use Disorders

Every family is unique, but all families share a bond that can be used to support one another during trying times.
  • While there is no one-size-fits-all solution for helping a family member who is drinking too much, using drugs, or dealing with a mental illness, research shows that family support can play a major role in helping a loved one with mental and substance use disorders.

    When a family member is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it can affect more than just the person in need of recovery. Evidence has shown that some people have a genetic predisposition for developing mental and substance use disorders, and may be at greater risk based on environmental factors such as having grown up in a home affected by a family member’s mental health or history of substance use. Families should be open to the options of support groups or family therapy and counseling, which can improve treatment effectiveness by supporting the whole family.

    It is also important to remember that the unique challenges that come from helping a loved one with a mental or substance use disorder can be taxing, so caregivers should take steps to prioritize their own health as well.

    Family members may be more likely to notice when their loved ones are experiencing changes in mood or behavior. Being able to offer support, family members can connect those in need with treatment, resources, and services to begin and stay on their recovery journey.

    Download audio and video files, and other resources for families.

  • Video: Family Drama

    Family Drama Youtube Video

    The Family Drama video encourage families to talk directly with their loved ones about concerns over substance use.

  • Video: Can We Talk?

    Can we talk? Youtube Video

    You can start a conversation about mental illness with your loved one with these three simple words: “Can we talk?” 

  • Guide: Helping a Loved One

    Guide: Helping a Loved One

    If you suspect your loved one is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, you can play a central role in getting them the help they need.

    (PDF | 72 KB)

  • Guide: Starting the Conversation

    Guide: Starting the Conversation

    When a loved one is experiencing a mental or substance use disorder, it is important to know how to support them and what to say.

    (PDF | 98 KB)

Need Help?

If you, or a family member, needs help with a mental or substance use disorder, call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, or text your zip code to 435748 (HELP4U), or use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to get help.

Last Updated

Last Updated: 06/08/2022