Adfam Policy Briefing October 2016

Our monthly update with the latest comment, reports, resources, policy and parliamentary news on families, drugs and alcohol.

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Parliamentary Roundup




I have just returned today from a rather nice annual tradition - going down to St Bride's church in Fleet Street to pick the carols and coral pieces for our annual carol concert. This year we've erred towards populism with the carols and chosen some time-tested classics; the choral works include some less well known numbers!

Regardless of soundtrack, the concert is a lovely event, which acknowledges, and celebrates, the experiences of the many families around the country struggling with the drug or alcohol use of a loved one.

As our sole annual fundraiser you'll forgive us for promoting it left, right and centre: you can now buy tickets for the concert, as well as submit a piece of creative writing on your experiences as a family member to our Family Voices competition, or nominate a colleague you think has made all the difference for our annual Gary Seaman Award for outstanding practitioner.

2016 will be my seventh carol concert and I do hope to see some familiar faces on the night.

With best wishes

Director of Policy and Communications

Parliamentary Roundup

Oliver Colvile MP asked the Secretary of State for Justice what steps her Department is taking to combat the supply of drugs into prisons. Mr Sam Gyimah MP for East Surrey and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Ministry of Justice replied that safety in prisons was a fundamental to our justice system and tough new laws have been put into place which will see anyone who smuggles drugs into prison, including new psychoactive substances, face up to two years imprisonment. Mr Gymiah also stated that were a range of security measures already in place to detect drugs and to prevent anyone bringing them into prisons.

Dr Tania Mathias MP asked the Secretary of State for Education what steps she is taking to increase awareness of the problems caused by illegal drugs in schools. Edward Timpson MP for Crewe and Nantwich and Minister of State for the Department of Education replied that effective drug education was integral for supporting prevention, and to keep children safe.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty’s Government what actions have been taken since the last meeting of the Public Health Responsibility Deal Alcohol Network. Lord Prior of Brampton Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department of Health replied stating that the Department had published the results of the independent Campden BRI report on the Responsibility Deal labelling pledge. This report showed that by the end of 2013 nearly 80% of labels on bottles and cans of alcoholic drinks displayed unit content, lower risk drinking guidelines, and a warning about drinking when pregnant.


Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) review and consultation

This survey asks for opinions and feedback to further improve the service provided by Mentor-ADEPIS. This service has been running since April 2013 and has sought to provide educational tools and resources regarding alcohol and drugs.

Female participants needed for research on drug treatments and relationships

The University of the West of Scotland are looking for female participants currently undertaking drug treatment who are in a relationship, or who have previously been in a relationship with someone who also uses drugs. This study aims to look at the perspectives of people using drugs in relationships and also those of the people who support them in specialist services.


What science says to do if your loved one has an opioid addiction.
This American article focuses on the conflicting information currently available for families with a loved one who has an opioid addiction. Often families are given advice which may go against what scientific evidence shows as the right course of action.
The promotion of treatments supported by research are highlighted against the current school of thought, and dual diagnosis – recognising that more often than not there may also an underlying mental health issue – needs to be treated simultaneously. The promotion of maintenance medication is also discussed as a better treatment option over abstinence which some regard as safer.

Life in Prison - Contact with Families and Friends
A paper by HM Inspectorate of Prisons looking at young offenders (aged 18-21) and the importance of contact with family and friends whilst they are serving a sentence. It summarises comments from anonymised prisoners and concludes with suggestions for improvement.

A key aspect of a prisoner’s eventual rehabilitation are families and friends who are seen as a key source of support. The integration of family visits and regular contact are shown to improve young offenders’ prospects for when they are eventually released. Families are also seen to benefit from adequate time and contact with the prisoner especially for children who may suffer with a lack of parental contact.

Prisoners should be encouraged to maintain relationships so that when released there is a support network around them. Over half of the prisoners interviewed said they were going to be moving in with family upon release.

Institute of Alcohol studies - Underage drinking
This factsheet looks at the prevalence of underage drinking of 13 to 15 year olds and highlights risk factors that can lead to children of this age group taking part in underage drinking.

Most information is based upon the Health and Social Care Information Centre’s Smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England (SDD) survey. It highlights the behaviours and risk factors that are most associated with underage drinking and common influences that can lead to the behaviour.

It interestingly highlights the recent decline in underage drinking since 2002-2003 where numbers peaked and looks at the reasons as to why, for example better legal enforcement, new technology such as social media and a greater awareness of the harms of alcohol consumption.

Not in my backyard – having a neighbourhood addiction treatment programme doesn’t raise violence any more than having a neighbourhood convenience store.
This American article looks at the statistical research performed on claims that neighbourhood initiative Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment centres to reduce substance use actually increase the amount of violence seen in these areas. 

The results show not only that these allegations were not correct but in fact the average number of violent crimes surrounding the SUDs was significantly less than that found near corner or liquor stores and the equivalent to that of violence seen around convenience stores. There was also no difference between the venues in the rate of decline of violence the further away you moved. This showed that SUDs were not a “magnet for crime”.

Alcohol action Ireland: Hidden harm – the impact of parental alcohol misuse
Alcohol Action Ireland have produced a fact sheet which brings to light the “hidden harm” that can affect children with a parent who abuses alcohol. Children can often suffer in silence, and take the role of the adult in the family especially when younger siblings are involved, for instance by feeding them or putting them to bed. Sometimes children are neglected to the extent of experiencing physical, mental or sexual abuse.

Whilst appropriate authorities are often made aware of severe cases of neglect, parents with less noticeable risky behaviours around alcohol can still affect children considerably. This article highlights the improvements that need to be made, such as urgent improvements to alcohol policy, changes to the prices and marketing of alcohol and the better identification of families at risk and their subsequent assessment and continued care.

The association between parental attitudes and alcohol consumption and adolescent alcohol consumption in Southern Ireland: A cross sectional study.
This paper discusses and researches the association between the attitude of a parent towards alcohol consumption and the affect this can have on their children’s attitude and behaviour towards drinking.

This study used a cross sectional survey which was distributed to students over the 2014-15 academic year. The results show that a parent’s attitude and behaviour towards alcohol consumption can influence an adolescent’s attitude and behaviour. A joint and authoritative parenting style towards alcohol can have a protective effect and policies focusing on adolescent behaviours in this area should be directing efforts onto changing parents' attitudes towards alcohol. It also suggests further research into this area by looking at the underage acquisition of alcohol and improved enforcement of the law.
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