It sounds so easy doesn't it? Just separate the person from the problem (alcohol or other drugs) and everything will be OK. Well actually this is something family members can do. How? We can put the focus on us. We can change our thinking and our conversations. And we can stop blurring alcohol and other drugs with the people we care about who are misusing substances. For example, we might think he's an addict, a drunk, a druggy, a dealer. Or, she's a user, a junky, a liar, a thief (even as I write these words they sound harsh and divisive). Now we all know that when alcohol and other drugs become a problem the person who is misusing tries to hide the problem, keeps secrets and says and does things they wouldn't normally say or do. And this happens when alcohol and other drugs has power over people. One of the sneaky tricks of alcohol and other drugs is that they like family members to get the people we care about all tangled up with them. They like to divide and conquer. When we buy into this we give them more power and control and we can drive our loved ones away. But we can stop this because we know a lot of great things about the people we love. We know they can be kind, gentle and giving. And family members have lots of knowledge, skills and experience to bring about change. One way to do this is to notice when we are merging the person with the problem and identify what the problem behaviour is. The person is not the problem, the behaviour is the problem. Remember, it takes time and practice to change. Oh, and for all those family members out there who are already kicking themselves for not getting this right in the first place, well just remember that you didn't know that merging the person with alcohol and other drugs was a dirty trick of this duo. But now you do know, reach out and get some support to tweek your thinking and conversations to separate the person from the problem. It really does help to bring about positive change.