Warning Signs Of a Drug Dependence:

A family member…

  • Needs increasing amounts of a drug (or combination of drugs) to achieve desired effect. (Tolerance)
  • When not abusing drugs, he/she will go through withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the drug(s) and how they are used, these symptoms may include: intense cravings for the drug, sweating, muscle aching, runny nose and eyes, depression, insomnia with nightmares, irritability, chills and nausea. (Withdrawal Symptoms)
  • Denies the existence of a drug abuse problem and/or claims that his/her drug taking is under control when it is clearly not. (Lost Control)
  • Will continue abusing drugs despite being arrested, charged with a criminal offence, and/or having spent time in jail. (Criminal Consequences)
  • Is not able to judge the dangerousness of certain acts, e.g., having unprotected sex, sharing needles, stealing or selling their bodies for money, and/or taking lethal amounts of the drug(s). (Risky Behavior)

The followings are some suggestions for Family members to help the person with a drug abuse problem and themselves:

  1. Face Reality. The problem will not go away by ignoring it. Pull your family resources together and help the person identify the problem. A person’s life is more important than your “face”!
  2. Don’t Blame. Drug abuse can start because of a genetic predisposition, life stressors, or lack of better coping skills. Drugs abuse is not caused by him/her being weak or undisciplined. Usually, the abuse of drugs is a symptom of some deeper personal or familial issue.
  3. Communicate. Talk about the problem in an open, non-aggressive, non-confrontational manner. Accept what the person with the drug abuse problem says as valid. Express your own perception of the problem and how the drug abuse has affected you.
  4. Seek Help.
    (a) Family members are usually the first to notice the problem, and family support is a very significant factor in the drug abuser’s recovery. However, sometimes that is not enough. You may need the aid of a professional counsellor or social worker.
    (b) Drug abuse does not only affect the drug abuser, it affects the entire family. Each member of the family will be affected in their own unique way. Counselling for family members is strongly encouraged.
  5. Empower. Let the person with the drug abuse problem take responsibility for his/her own recovery. You cannot force the person to change. Although, as a family member, you can definitely help by providing support and showing patience, understanding, and trust.

Counselling Will Involve:

  • Helping the drug abuser set up an appointment with a detoxification centre or methadone clinic, if required.
  • Collaborative assessment and treatment planning.
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the person with the drug abuse problem.
  • Counsellor/social worker and client work together to explore and build upon what motivates the client to change and to utilize these inner resources to get through the often difficult process of recovery.
  • Exploring the precipitated courses which lead to drug abuse.
  • Getting the family (or significant others) to participate in the recovery process.
  • Explore and implement strategies for relapse prevention.

The followings are a list of pamphlets on addiction that are available at Chinese Family Services of Ontario:

1. What Is An Addiciton?
2. Choosing Life Without Alcohol: What you can do!
3. Choosing Life Without Drugs: What you can do!
4. Alcoholism and Faimily Members.
5. Drug Abuse and Family Members.
6. Alcoholism and Youth.
7. Drug Abuse and Youth

Note: All pamphlets are written in both Chinese and English.

For additional information or direct services, please contact our office at
(416) 979-8299