Resources for Families & Caregivers

The BC Centre on Substance has partnered with family and caregiver representatives, as well as people with lived and living experience with substance use, to develop several resources to help people understand substance use and addiction.

Coping Kit
Gone Too Soon
Opioids: A Survivor's Guide


Heretohelp has created "toolkits" to help you build knowledge and practice skills to manage a mental health or substance use problem, or support a loved one to do so.

Anxiety Disorders Toolkit
A manual specially tailored for those with anxiety problems or a diagnosed anxiety disorder. A comprehensive and helpful resource that also features quizzes.

Depression Toolkit
A series of three toolkits to help you understand, manage and prevent relapse of depression.

Coping with depression during pregnancy and following the birth
This workbook has been contributed to HeretoHelp by the BC Reproductive Mental Health Program of BC Mental Health and Addiction Services. This resource is for women wanting to learn self-help skills to prevent and manage depression during pregnancy and after birth.

Family Self-Care and Recovery From Mental Illness Manual
This manual is designed for families of people dealing with a mental illness. It will help family members be informed caregivers, including taking care of themselves and other family members and maintaining their own health.

How You Can Help: A Toolkit for Families (aka the Family Toolkit)
If you're a family member, friend or other carer, this workbook aims to help walk you through what you need to know about helping someone you love struggling with a mental or substance use disorder.

Mental Disorders Toolkit
A series of three toolkits to help you understand, manage and prevent relapse of a mental disorder.

You and Substance Use Workbook
This workbook uses stories, quotes, cartoons, and lots of questions and tips to guide you through the process of understanding more about the role of alcohol or other drugs in your life.

Wellness Modules
A series of worksheets on various topics to do with mental well-being including stress management, exercise, nutrition, emotions, relationships and thinking patterns. A useful resource for everyone.

Caring for Yourself

When you spend most of your time worrying about and supporting your child or loved one and other family members, it can be easy to neglect yourself. Taking care of yourself is just as important.

  • Don’t blame yourself. Guilt is not a useful emotion. Other people’s actions generally do not cause addiction.
  • It is natural to feel anger, hurt, and disappointment.
  • Admit it when you’ve blown it, apologize, and move on.
  • Focus on what you can do, and let go of what you can’t. Nobody can force someone with a substance use disorder into treatment or recovery.
  • Stay connected. This is a time when you need to reach out to your family and friends, not to withdraw because of feelings of shame. You’ll be amazed at how understanding most people will be, especially if you talk about addiction as a disease.
  • Explore paths you may not have tried before. Many find daily readers like Al-Anon’s One Day at a Time helpful during difficult times, and this may be a time to investigate your own spirituality. A list of resource books is also available at the end of this section.
  • Get support! You don’t have to go through this alone, and you don’t have to stick with the first counsellor you meet. Find a counsellor who you feel comfortable with, ideally one who specializes in substance use. Keep trying until you find one you can work with. Counselling BC has an online tool that can help you find professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are registered with a recognized professional body in BC and allows you to search by location, areas of practice, approaches, and language spoken. This tool can be accessed at
  • Consider joining a group for those impacted by substance use. This may be in addition to or instead of finding a counsellor. There is no substitute for personal experience, and self-help groups (Parents Forever, Parents Together, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon) offer mutual support from people who have been there and are still struggling with addiction issues.
  • Consider accessing Family Smart’s Parents in Residence and Youth in Residence Program, which provides peer support, mentoring, help with system navigation, and information for youth or young adults with substance use challenges and families and caregivers of youth or young adults with substance use challenges.
  • Don’t let embarrassment or shame get in the way of taking action. Others in your community are bound to be struggling as you are. You just need to find one another.
  • Try posting a notice of a meeting at your local church, community or health centre. Let health and other professionals in the field know what you are planning, and get their help in advertising and organizing the gathering. In other words, get creative. You have nothing to lose but your isolation.
  • Keep an eye on your own health and well-being. Self-care is not only essential but can also demonstrate healthy coping techniques for your child or loved one dealing with problematic substance use. Maintaining and supporting your own physical and emotional health allows you to best support your child or loved one and other family members. Try to eat well and exercise regularly (and encourage everyone in your family to join you).
  • Go to events, go for a walk, and spend time with others you find supportive.
  • Talk to your GP or other health professional if you need more help than you’re getting now. Other ideas for self-care include:
    • Getting enough sleep
    • Eating enough nutritious food
    • Having enough down time
    • Setting healthy boundaries
    • Spending time with friends
    • Getting outside into nature
    • Doing an activity or hobby you enjoy
    • Creating nourishing rituals and routines
    • Moving in a way that feels good
    • Eating your favourite food
    • Spending time with pets
    • Therapy or counselling
    • Taking necessary medications
    • Writing in a journal
    • Exercising or other physical activity

Above all, don’t give up on your own life, dreams, and goals. You will survive—one day at a time.

Copyright © 2021, BC Centre on Substance Use

400-1045 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9

E: | T: (778) 945-7616 | F: (604) 428-5183

24/7 Addiction Clinician Support Line: (778) 945-7619

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