They think I have a drugs/alcohol problem

If a friend or family member gets on your case about taking drugs or your drinking habits, you usually just brush it off. What happens when they keep bringing it up though? It might be time to reflect on your habits and have an honest conversation with them. We’re here to walk you through it.

A blonde, young woman looks upset. She is confessing her alcohol problems to a red-headed friend. She is wearing a grey blazer with a white, long-sleeved top. This is a close up image.

Worrying behaviour

Ever wondered, ‘Why do they think I have a drugs/alcohol problem?’

Maybe you started with a bit of weed, but now you’re smoking every day and you can’t be bothered getting up for work or college anymore. Maybe you drink heavily on weekdays, and your hangovers leave you begging for a dark room and a couple of cans to get you back on your feet. Or do you knock back a few ecstasy pills at the weekend then feel like the comedown is lasting all week?

So now your parents think you have a drugs/alcohol problem and they’re giving you grief about it. Maybe your sister is giving you hell after she found bottles under your bed. Or your partner is nagging that things have got to change? In the midst of all this mess, you’re left wondering why they won’t just leave you alone. It’s because they care and they want to help you. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, but once you do – you’re gonna want them around.

They think I have a drugs/ alcohol problem, but I don’t 

If the amount of alcohol or drugs you consume has reached a point where other people have noticed or are getting involved by nagging you to stop, begging you to change, or even completely disowning you, chances are, there’s a problem. You might not want stop drinking or be ready to admit there’s alcohol dependence. Regardless, it can be frustrating to feel like other people are watching your every move. Just have a real convo with them. Set boundaries so that you can stay in each other’s lives while you continue to drink.

Jenny is now 24 but was using ecstasy, speed and cocaine between the ages of 15 to 18. At the time, she wasn’t that concerned about potential health problems or the effect it was having on her family and friends, but her situation escalated and she became completely alienated from everyone around her.

“My friends hated the way I changed into a moody cow who only cared about going out at the weekends,” she says. “My best mate at school said I had to choose between her and drugs. At the time I just laughed at her and said there was no competition. We didn’t speak for years after that.”

How are you making others feel? 

Looking back on her situation, Jenny can see how wrapped up she was in drugs. “I think users only see what they want to see and don’t realise the hurt they can cause,” says Jenny. “They can become very self-centred and anyone who doesn’t share their love of drugs is seen as ignorant.”

We know it can be tough to consider the feelings of those close to you when you feel like they don’t understand you, but you gotta play the long-game. Communicating with them, even in the shittiest of moments, will help you massively, during recovery and beyond.

‘They think I have a drugs/alcohol problem’ : What they’re ACTUALLY thinking

Louise, a parent and family worker in a substance misuse service, has a brother who is heroin dependent. “When we found out about my brother, my family was in shock. We knew nothing about drugs and were frightened about what could happen to him,” she says.

This is a normal response; you may be in your element, but your family is often in the dark when it comes to what your lifestyle actually involves. Think about it – while it might just seem like a couple of lines of coke to you, to your inexperienced dad you might as well be doing a truck-load. They might even be scared about potential alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Try and reassure them by letting them know what you’re taking and finding resources that can help them get informed.

“If your family or friends have actually started asking you questions about drugs, you should talk to them,” says Louise. “Their imagination about what’s happening is usually a hundred times worse than the reality. Once your drug use is out in the open, lying and keeping secrets only increases anxiety and makes relationships suffer.”

How to coexist peacefully 

Whether or not you’re ready to change your habits, it could be a long time before people realise that they can’t make you change. Finding ways to keep them on your side will help ease tensions on the home front. It could also stop you from losing the people closest to you, as Jenny did.

Be proactive and responsible to show them that you’re looking after yourself. Go to a drug advice centre and find out all the information you need about what you’re using (even if it’s ‘just’ booze). You can also make a harm-reduction plan with the people who are concerned about you. For example, always tell them where you are going. That way they know you’re being as safe as possible and not frantically texting you every two minutes – it’s a win-win really.

Why are they so concerned that I have a drugs/alcohol problem?

A lack of understanding mixed with fear is a major reason why family members try and force you into a support group or treatment you don’t want. Point them in the direction of a family drug worker who will support them and help to facilitate communication between everyone.

Jenny adds: “Remember that their concerns stem from love and worry, they only want you to be okay. I just thought my mates were jealous of what a great time I was having. I didn’t realise how much I was scaring them.”

Next Steps

  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 05-Aug-2021