This paper outlines an eight-fold typology of coping actions based upon a qualitative analysis of the accounts provided by 50 close relatives of people with drug problems. In a number of different ways relatives draw attention to the contrasts between these distinguishable ways of coping. Emphasis is placed upon the provisional nature of this typology and upon the compromises between, and combinations of, ways of coping that are often used by relatives in practice. Different ways of coping represent alternative choices for relatives, often explicitly expressed by them as difficult dilemmas. Links are suggested between the ways of coping identified here and those discussed in the literature on coping with other disorders and disabilities in the family, with ways of coping described in the general literature on coping with stress, and with types of social action appearing in general models of interpersonal behaviour. Implications for counselling close relatives of people with drug problems are also outlined.