Jesuit Social Services
Understanding the Problem

Drug Use

Alcohol and Other Drug Services For Families

Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Treatment Services receive funding from government and other sources. They provide various treatment services aiming to address either the physical or psychological aspects of drug dependence. They may provide, for example:

› A version of this help sheet is also available in plain English.

  • Pharmacotherapy treatments such as Methadone and Buprenorphine
  • Withdrawal (or "detox") Services
  • Rehabilitation Services
  • Counselling Services
Generalist counselling services and youth support services will usually also help people with AOD difficulties and their families and friends. Most services are also funded to provide some support or referral for family members. However if a young person has a serious substance abuse problem, it is best to consult a specialist drug and alcohol agency.

Your young person probably knows more about drugs and drug use than you do. When a young person in the family has a drug problem, it is very helpful for parents and family members to educate themselves so that they are better equipped to understand the nature of the problem and how to support the young person.

They also need to do this without enabling or supporting the drug using behaviour. Most importantly, parents and other family members need to know how to support themselves. Some resources that can provide you with information in relation to these issues are listed below.

Types of help available

The types of services specifically for families affected by drug use include:

Telephone support services

Family Drug Help (ph: 1300 660 068) provides a telephone support service for Victorians. It is staffed mostly by trained parents who have personal experience of parenting a child with AOD difficulties. When Family Drug Help volunteers are not available, their phone number diverts to Directline (ph: 1800 888 236), where professionals are able to assist family members 24 hours a day.

Reading materials

Family Drug Help publish a quarterly newsletter for parents as well as brochures and other material.

Other resources

There are other websites and brochures that provide information about drugs and their effects and how you might manage things in your family, in addition to the information found on this site. The Australian Drug Foundation's website is also a great resource for parents and family members.

Self-help groups

Family Drug Help coordinate parent self-help groups, where parents come together to support each other and share strategies about coping with a child who is using drugs.

Worker-led group programs

These are programs led by trained professionals for parents at various agencies, providing education, support and strategies to deal with the situations they encounter when a child is using drugs. An example of this is the B.E.S.T. program, coordinated by the Centre for Adolescent Health (ph. 03 9345 5890).


VIVAIDS is a Victorian, government funded organisation, which provides peer education and support for people who use drugs. This means most of the people there are or have been drug users, and are committed to supporting other drug users in a variety of ways, including to reduce harms associated with their use.

They supply needle and syringe programs with brochures on safer injecting, for example. You could contact your local needle and syringe exchange (often at your local Community Health Centre, see: Types of Help Available) for these brochures if you're concerned about this issue.

You could also encourage your child to call VIVAIDS and speak to someone there for more information on how to reduce the harms of drug use and in particular intravenous drug use if they are using needles.

As a family member, you can also contact VIVAIDS and obtain information about ways to reduce harm for different drugs. They may send you out information that you can then pass on to your child. VIVAIDS are in North Melbourne(ph. 03 9329 1500).

For more information on drug treatment services, visit the Department of Human Services website.

More on reading materials

The Australian Drug Foundation has lots of useful information for parents and families of young people with drug problems. It is worth the time to browse their website.

We suggest that when you are reading information, you keep two main questions in your mind, and make notes if it will help you remember useful information:
  1. How does this help me to understand my family members behaviour/problem?

  2. How does this help me know how to approach my child?

Here is a guide to find the information on their site that will be of most interest and benefit to you:

  1. Go to the 'Alchohol and Drug and Info' section of the site. The pages that will be of most interest to you here are 'Drug Info', 'Fact Sheets' and 'Free Resources'.

  2. Start with 'Drug Info'. Now you have several options. We suggest you start by looking at 'About Drugs'. Then you can read more about specific drugs of interest to you by going back and clicking on 'Browse by Drug' and 'Drug Facts'.

  3. Under 'Drug Info' it may be worth your while to click on 'Browse by people' and then 'Parents'. The options which will be of most use to you are: 'Common questions asked by parents', 'Communicating with your teenager about drugs', 'When someone close to you has a drug problem' and possibly ''Drug Prevention Strategies'.

  4. Now you may want to return to 'Drug Info' and click on 'Treatment'.

  5. If you aren't overloaded, it may be worth your while to return to the DrugInfo Clearinghouse home page, 'Alcohol & Drug Info' and look at their 'Fact Sheets' (eg: 'Drug Prevention Strategies', 'Family Intervention' and 'Parent Education').

  6. Also of interest under 'Alcohol & Drug Info' is 'Free Resources'. Browse the list for 'families/friends' or 'parents'.
More About Drug Use
Tell Me About Drugs
Why Do Young People
Use Drugs?
Why Does My Child Use Drugs?
Why Don't They See it
as a Problem?
Other Drug Related Behaviours
What Else Can I Do?
Alcohol and Other Drug
Services for Families
Related Help Sheets
Dealing with Services
Types of Helps Available
Other Useful Links
Australian Drug Foundation
Department of Human Services
Department of Health & Ageing Terms of Use Jesuit Social Services an involved website. Site Map Contact Us About back to top help? download pdf