Depression/substance abuse

How to deal with a loved one who is suffering with anxiety, depression and substance abuse to alcohol. I feel guilty for things I have said in the past that may of triggered or made the situation worse. I need help on how to help someone who feels helpless, where it does not not affect me mentally or overwhelmed.
Asked by Mada

Thank you so much for putting yourself out there and attempting to seek some guidance. Having a loved who suffers from mental health issues and substance use is extremely difficult and can bring so many challenges in all facets of life. 

Starting with "how to deal with a loved one who is suffering with anxiety, depression and substance abuse to alcohol".  Some things I may write here you may already be aware of and others maybe not. When it comes to any sort of substance abuse it is something that only the person abusing can change. Though others may be affected by this, the person abusing needs to have the desire to heal and if not that is their choice. Like the old adage, you can lead a horse to water but you can not make it drink. This brings up an important point, control and choice. You have control of yourself and the choices you make, not anyone else. This is an important shift in focus and thought process as you do not have control over them. You can support them by being there with them and continuing to show them the love you have for them as long as you are safe in doing this. Also, an important point to remember is you must take care of yourself as well. Having your own self-care routines. A metaphor I like to think of is when you are on an airplane and the flight attendants go through their safety protocols - they talk about when the air pressure in the cabin drops to a certain point oxygen masks are deployed. The next thing they say is the important part to remember for our purpose. You must place the mask over your head and help yourself before placing the mask on the person next to you. In essence, you must make sure you are healthy and taking care of yourself before helping someone else. This is imperative when there is a loved one struggling with mental health and substance use. 

In terms of mental health help, you can support by being there and talking with them. If it is something they are willing to go to counseling for this can be beneficial too, checking in with a primary care doctor to see if there are any biological reasons why this is happening is important as well. 


To help someone who feels helpless without letting it affect you is difficult. It is something that you must be able to cope with when not interacting with them. Doing things you enjoy, spending time with friends and enjoying hobbies. Possibly even counseling to discuss these feelings you are having and develop strategies to cope with the feelings. You can only do your best and nothing more.