Two friends hugging at the beach.

Caring for someone who has mental health and drug and alcohol issues is complex. It can be hard to tell what came first, the mental illness or the drug and alcohol issues.

Quite often, people use  drugs as a way of coping with their symptoms. While this can mask the effect of their symptoms, if they stop using the drug their issues may return.

For example, using a particular drug may help someone cope with low mood, but if they stop using the drug this symptom of depression will return. This can be an overwhelming feeling and act as a trigger, tempting people to start using again – creating a merry-go-round of substance use problems.

On the other hand, someone may have good mental health, but after using drugs they may experience mental health symptoms.

It is common for people caring for someone with a mental health condition, or drug and alcohol issues, to be unsure of what they can do to help. So how can we support people who are experiencing both mental health and drug or alcohol issues?

Here are some tips to help you support your loved one:

If you would like to discuss your situation, or want more information on supporting someone with mental health and drug and alcohol issues, contact SANE's free counselling service on 1800 18 7263 from 10am–10pm AEST Monday to Friday.

You can also connect with others who might understand what you're going through in our Family, Friends & Carers Forum. Starting chatting with people who get it in our safe, online community.