Challenging a behaviour

Confronting someone about their behaviour can be difficult, especially when drugs are involved. Here's some suggestions on how to express your concerns.


Unwelcome behaviour could mean using drugs in your house when you asked them not to, or asking you to lie to cover for them when they miss work or school.

The following guidelines might be helpful to read through before you decide to confront your loved one.

  • Talk over what you want to say to the person with someone else first.
  • Stay calm when you let them know what you are not happy about.
  • Be clear and firm.
  • Give your reasons without too much explanation.
  • Be prepared for a lot of arguing.
  • Have support available.

Pick your time. It is never a good idea to deal with things:

  • When the person is "hanging out' for drugs
  • When the person is intoxicated
  • When the person is 'coming down' from drugs

If you decide the best thing to do for now is to ask the person to leave:

  • Talk it over with another person who is outside the situation and you can trust;
  • Try and talk to the person when they are not on any drugs (this includes alcohol); 
  • Stay calm;
  • Talk about how you will stay in touch;
  • Have support available.

It is OK to put your own needs and safety first. If at any stage your loved one becomes violent or intimidating, do not hesitate to call the Police on 111.

Penny & PeterAnd the more I tried to say to her, I'm really worried. I think you are doing this. She was like, lie, lie, lie.

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Tips for loved ones

  • Accept the person has a problem needing attention.

  • Don't try to talk to the person about your concerns when they are under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

  • Don't cover up or make excuses for the mistakes they make when they are intoxicated.

  • At every opportunity, let the person see the consequences of his or her behaviour.

  • Don't nag, scream or lecture. It will only cause feelings of anger and resentment.

  • Don't accept rude or physically abusive behaviour as normal or understandable. It is never OK for you to be mistreated by anyone.

  • Don't feel guilty if you are upset because they have broken a promise to you. People with drug problems often make promises that they can't keep, and it is natural that you would feel disappointed or hurt.

  • Don't judge the person as weak, stupid or lacking in willpower because they can't control their drug use. Drug dependency can happen to anyone.

  • Don't feel sorry for the person with the drug problem. When you feel pity, it is more likely that you will try to take care of the person rather than encourage them to get the help they need.

  • Don't blame yourself for the problem. Other people's actions do not cause drug dependency.

  • Do learn all you can about drug problems.

  • Do make sure you have at least one person who you can talk to about your feelings and worries.

  • When the person opens up and admits they need help, assist them to access appropriate support services.

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Then I noticed things like lack of work or failure to have constant work and that sort of stuff as well. Then eventually I realised a lot of things were lies as well.

Anna