Are You A Family Caregiver? Know The Top 5 Cues of Substance Abuse

While becoming a caregiver gives you immense satisfaction of being able to help a loved one when he or she truly needs you, the job is also extremely taxing. Things become difficult when you are caring for a person with dementia, Alzheimer, incontinence, and other diseases. In some cases, mobility issues can have a profound impact on the type of caregiving duties that you have to provide to that person. In some cases, when you know your loved one is terminally ill, there can be extreme stress, depression, and anxiety. All these factors, sometimes drive caregivers to use and abuse substances to cope up with their overwhelming caregiving duties.

Many caregivers use depressant drugs and stimulant medications. A few also opt for cocaine and meth. So, if you are a caregiver who is stressed, know the top five cues of substance abuse to stay safe. So, here we go.

Social isolation and loneliness

If you are not getting any time to socialize with your friends and sacrificing your hobbies to provide caregiving to your loved ones, you are at an increased risk of substance abuse sooner or later. When you have to be with your loved one round the clock, you have to sacrifice your social life. In short, assisting in instrumental activities of daily living leads to social isolation. The feeling of loneliness makes these caregivers more prone to get addicted to stimulant medications. The aim was to experience a feeling of pleasure or euphoria in some cases.


There is a close link that exists between depression and substance abuse. One trigger leads to the other. Are you a caregiver of a loved one who is sometimes verbally and physically abusive or showing no signs of improvement in his or her health? If yes, you will likely experience depression because of juggling between your caregiving responsibilities and the urge to stop doing everything to heal your own physical and emotional well-being. Sometimes, caregivers also become depressed when they know that despite their all attempts to revive the health of their loved one, the improvement is negligible. According to some estimates, 20% of all family caregivers suffer from depression. So, if you are experiencing depression, you can be at risk of substance abuse.

Anxiety and stress

According to Arthur Somers Roche-a noted American author, “Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained”. As a caregiver when you didn’t receive any help from other family members, you find it tough to carry out all the caregiving duties all alone. As a result, you become anxious. The problem is magnified when you are yourself dealing with health problems.


Caregiver fatigue becomes a reality when you have to wake in the middle of the night for an emergency trip to the healthcare facility or because your loved one has an urge to use the bathroom. When the same happens each night, you start feeling overworked with little time for self-care. Moreover, you may have to fulfill your other responsibilities such as cooking, laundry or cleaning which all makes you feel helpless because of your fatigue. You start thinking about your lack of control over the situation. When some stressful conditions are handled poorly, fatigue sets in. A caregiver eventually surrenders himself or herself to substance abuse.

While it is true that many caregivers use drugs prescribed by their doctors to overcome their depression, anxiety, and other problems, they are still at a higher chance of substance abuse because of regular intake of prescribed drugs. So, if you are having any of these signs, immediately seek caregiver support. There are communities of caregivers where you can find help and tips to overcome your problems. There are also free resources over the web that you can download to get yourself miles away from any possibility of becoming prone to substance abuse. Have hope and seek help to make your caregiving journey smooth.