The Family Angle: March 2017

Everything you need to know about families, drugs and alcohol.

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Regional Roundup

Parliamentary Roundup



In Focus


The BEAD (Bereaved through Alcohol and Drugs) project was set up to provide practical and emotional support and information for people bereaved through drug or alcohol use. People affected by this particular form of bereavement have long reported high levels of stigma in the way they experience the loss of a loved one, with neighbours, colleagues and sometimes even family members diminishing the loss because of the drug or alcohol element. Researchers talk about a “disenfranchised grief” experienced by this group of family members, with the family unable to remember their loved one and commemorate their death in a “normal” fashion due to shame or stigma.

However it’s described, the need of this group of family members is very real. Building on the work of groups including DrugFam and Rebound Adfam started work in 2013, in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care and funded by the Big Lottery, on the BEAD project – a programme of delivering support from trained peer volunteers to people who’ve been bereaved though substance use. Over those years our brilliant volunteers have provided 1-2-1 support to dozens of clients and we’ve also run three structured peer support groups in London. A few weeks ago, we launched the BEAD website which brings together real life stories, practical and emotional advice and resources to help anyone who’s been bereaved in this way. We hope you find it useful; please do share it with clients and colleagues.

In other news:
  • As part of our work with the Recovery Partnership we held a meeting in Manchester for substance use commissioners to offer some peer support space for them at a time of great challenge. Read about our work with commissioners.
  • We asked families what they thought about decriminalising and legalising drugs – and over 270 of you responded to our survey! Thanks – we will be sharing the findings with you over the next couple of months.
  • We work with a group of older carers in London who support loved ones with drug and alcohol problems. We asked them what they liked about the group and what unique challenges they faced – learn about what they told us.

Regional Roundup

March has been a busy month for Adfam across the country! Here is a roundup of what’s been going on:
  • Regional forums in the West Midlands, North East and North West, including presentations on  Welfare Rights, take-home Naloxone, SMART Family and Friends and Adfam’s newest resource, Making It Happen.
  • A training morning with Action for Family Carers in Essex, equipping them to support and signpost carers affected by substance use better.
  • Practitioner training on Child to Parent Abuse in the North East as part of Adfam’s Comic Relief-funded project.
  • We attended the launch of PROPS North East’s young people’s project to deliver a social media campaign raising the profile of the police as agents of safety.
To find out more about our regional work, contact Becky Allon-Smith.

Parliamentary Roundup

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Novel Psychoactive Substances and Volatile Substance Abuse was formed this month. This group follows on from the Psychoactive Substances Act in May 2016 and will monitor the issues and challenges which remain. The secretariat will be run jointly by Re-Solv and Mentor UK, and it will be chaired by David Hanson MP.

Jim Shannon MP asked what steps the Department of Health was taking to support the children of alcoholics. Nicola Blackwood MP, Minister for Public Health, replied that PHE is working to improve the evidence base and support local authorities in relation to alcohol treatment services and safeguarding. Furthermore, the department is meeting with stakeholders and devising a strategy to give children of alcoholics the support they need.

Mary Glindon MP asked whether local authorities are required to provide non-mandated public health services like drugs and alcohol. Nicola Blackwood MP responded that whilst no regulations have been made in that respect, the public health grant paid to LAs under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 requires them to use that money to improve take up of, and outcomes from, their drug and alcohol services.


Alcohol Structures Consultation - HM Treasury
In the Spring Budget, The Government announced that it would consult on the structure of the alcohol duty system. In particular, it is consulting on: introducing a new band to target cheap, high strength ‘white’ ciders, below 7.5% abv, and the impacts of a new lower strength still wine band to encourage the production and consumption of lower strength wines. The consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks closing at 11:45pm on 12 June.

Use of Ketamine and NPS - University of Hertfordshire
The University of Hertfordshire has produced a survey on the use of novel psychoactive substances (formerly ‘legal highs’) and ketamine among the general public. The aim is to evaluate the level of knowledge and awareness on the use of these drugs.

LGBT Community and Substance Use - Alcohol & Drugs Action
This survey looks at the substance use of the LGBT community. It aims to find the main reasons which lead to the consumption of alcohol and illicit substances, and how to improve the current support services available.


Health matters: preventing drug misuse deaths - Public Health England

This report presents statistical findings relating to drug use in England and Wales in 2015. Key findings include: 2,479 registered deaths related to drug misuse, an increase of 10% on 2014; a 6% increase from 2014/15 to  2015/16 for hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders; and the fact that in 2015/16 around 1 in 12 adults aged 16-59 had taken an illicit drug in the last year.
Statistics on Drugs Misuse: England 2017 (pdf) - National Statistics

This report presents statistical findings relating to drug use in England and Wales in 2015. Key findings include 2,479 registered deaths related to drug misuse, an increase of 10% on 2014; in 2015/16 there were 8,621 hospital admissions with a primary diagnosis of drug-related mental health and behavioural disorders, a 6% increase on 2014/15; and in 2015/16 around 1 in 12 adults aged 16-59 had taken an illicit drug in the last year.
Women and Alcohol Factsheet (pdf) - Institute of Alcohol Studies

This factsheet focuses on how alcohol affects women, and why there has been an increase in the level of consumption amongst women. Evidence suggests that many of alcohol’s effects pose a greater risk to women’s physical health at lower consumption levels than men, and some alcohol-related physical harms impact exclusively on women. These health impacts include: dependence, mental health, reproductive problems, pregnancy, and breast cancer.
Evaluation of Four Recovery Communities across England: Final report for the Give it Up  project (pdf) - Public Health Institute: Liverpool John Moores University

This is a final project report for the ‘Give it Up’ project, funded by Comic Relief. The project aimed to develop and build abstinence-based recovery communities and learn more about their value. It was delivered between October 2014 and October 2016 to support the development of recovery communities in four different locations across England: London, Birmingham, Durham and Gloucester.
Mayoral Election Toolkit - HM Government 

On 4 May 2017, six regions in England will be taking to the polls to elect new Combined Authority Mayors: Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West Midlands, West of England. This resource is part of a campaign, ‘Our Mayor. Your Vote’ that aims to raise awareness of these elections, inform people of the role of the new Mayors and how to vote.

In Focus

Not so Hidden but still Harmful: supporting family recovery in Newham
There has been a lot of publicity and press coverage of this important issue over the last couple of months. It is estimated that there are over 2.5 million children who live with a parent who drinks too much and between 250,000 and 350,000 children of problem drug users in the UK.

Adfam has a proud track record of advocating for and supporting families impacted by substance misuse. That’s why I’m really excited about developing direct support services for young people, parents and families in Newham. We will be setting up youth support services for 11-19-year-olds and running parenting classes and family sessions focusing on improving communication.

Alcohol misuse has been the focus of much press coverage recently and given society’s often difficult relationship to this legal drug this is welcomed. I witnessed this first hand in my previous role at Alcohol Concern co-producing a campaign with young people adversely affected by alcohol and the criminal justice system.

I have just started my work with families and am currently meeting young people in youth clubs in Newham to promote the project and raise awareness of the issues around Hidden Harm. The young people will have the opportunity of co-producing the programme of activities; this is essential to give them a real sense of ownership. This will be an empowering process for young people who might otherwise feel isolated, stigmatised and not in control of their lives.

Essentially we want to support the young people to connect (or re-connect) with their adolescence. This will mean going out and meeting their peers, taking part in fun activities, going on trips, undertaking challenges as well as addressing their support needs. They will also have the chance to develop a strong collective voice enabling them to present to commissioners, policy and decision-makers, locally and eventually nationally.

The youth support service we develop in Newham comes against a backdrop of £22 million cuts in London youth service budgets in the past four years. Newham tops this list for that period. Youth work involves a unique style of proactive work with young people, supporting them to identify issues they want to address. Young people value going to local open access youth clubs where they can enjoy activities in a safe, youth-friendly space with trained staff as they navigate their way through often challenging adolescence. Numerous studies have shown the cost benefit of investing in proactive youth support services.
Adfam’s vision that any family requiring support in dealing with someone else's drug or alcohol use will receive help, is the driving force behind us developing a whole family approach. So alongside the youth support service we are taking referrals for parents who are misusing substances to help them improve their parenting and communication with the whole family. We will organise whole family activities enabling families to improve their communication through fun activities and in a supportive environment. We will then share and showcase the work in Newham and further afield. 

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about the project!

With best wishes

Steve Curtis
Family Support Development Coordinator (Newham)
Copyright © 2017 Adfam, All rights reserved.

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