Substance Abuse


I am not going to preach about the effects of substance abuse. We all know what they are. If you want to help someone with a substance abuse challenge and they do not want to change there are “stages of change”.

Precontemplation. The person sees no need to change.

Contemplation. The person has thought of the pros and cons of their substance use but is not sure about changing.

Preparation. The person is ready to take action to change.

Action. The person is attempting to change and avoiding situations that might trigger substance use.

Maintenance. The person has changed and is working to prevent a relapse.

Relapse. The person  may relapse once or several times before changing their substance use patterns.

If the person is unwilling to change then you can talk to a health professional, consult with others who have gone through the same thing, or talk to the person about the negative consequences of substance abuse.

You can also be a good listener, encourage low risk drinking, give information about mental health care.

Do Not:

Join them in drinking.

Try to control them with threatening, crying, bribing, etc.

Make excuses or clean up their messes.

Feel guilty or responsible.

Helpful Resources:

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Mental Health America

Alcoholic Anonymous

Al-Anon and Alateen  and

This article was adapted from the book: Mental Health First Aid USA ISBN: 978-0-692-60748-0


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