Having a loved one with a drug or alcohol issue is hard at the best of times. Many don’t realise that living with addiction often comes with daily domestic violence, financial difficulties, mental abuse, stress, depression and anxiety - all of which have an impact on the physical and mental health of these people.
Throw in a global pandemic and the extra stress, anxiety and financial difficulties that brings, and you’ve got yourself possibly one of the most challenging times you will face in life.
Adfam's Manifesto states that 1 in 3 people across the UK live with this issue. Imagine that for a minute - with everything else that is happening at the moment, a third of us are having to face an extra and unique challenge.
My personal experience of COVID-19 and having a family member dependent on class A drugs has been extremely unpleasant and only heightened the many issues we all face every single day.
My brother (who has been addicted to class A drugs for 18 years now) was apparently going through a relatively ‘good’ phase. Since the UK has been in lockdown, he has turned back to his old ways (I’ve lost count of the times this has happened now). Going on a three-week ‘bender’ and catapulting my family back into a life of: harassment, lies, threats, bullying behaviour, stress, anxiety, helplessness and I’m sure financial pressure to pay off debts he’s incurred because of his actions.
I have not been in contact with my brother for almost a year now – a decision I made to protect my mental health from spiralling again - but I am seeing the impact it’s having on my parents and my younger brother. Even though they put on a brave face, I’ve become an expert at seeing straight through it. However, this time it’s harder because of the lockdown I am not able to just pop round and give them a hug.
As a member of Adfam’s Board, I feel an added responsibility to think more about how we can support family members of those with drug and alcohol problems. Groups are cancelled, some people are trapped indoors with violent family members; we all have limited access to support and small charities like Adfam, that we rely on to get through each day are facing huge challenges.
What can we do to help?
I ask you to do one thing today - think about how you can help family and friends of those living with addiction at this horrible time. Think about how you can help Adfam continue to do their essential work to support people like me. If you know someone who has a family member or friend with a drug or alcohol problem, give them a call and see how they are. If you are able to give, donate to Adfam who are providing help to thousands of people each day throughout the virus, yet need support to continue to do that.
Trust me, it makes a huge difference.