The Family Angle: April 2017

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

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Regional Roundup

Parliamentary Roundup



In Focus


April has heralded the start of two new projects at Adfam. Firstly, we are starting our work on dual diagnosis which we announced in February. Secondly, building on our work with the Recovery Partnership, we are going to be providing the secretariat for Collective Voice, a group of voluntary sector drug and alcohol treatment providers. Collective Voice was set up to ensure that the voices of the drug and alcohol treatment sector and those who use their services are represented effectively. It is an exciting time for drug policy with the long-awaited Drug Strategy due to come out soon, and we are looking forward to playing our part and bringing the voice of family members to the table.

In May, we will be attending the Tackling Multiple Disadvantage National Summit organised by the Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition. This two-day event on 8 & 9 May in Milton Keynes will combine lived experience, research, policy and practice, bringing together people with different backgrounds and skill sets to discuss the next steps needed to tackle multiple disadvantage. It looks like it will be a fascinating event – there are still spaces which can be booked online if you want to join us there!

In other news:
  • In the next few weeks we are running two events focused on drug or alcohol related bereavement. The days are open to both people who have been bereaved and practitioners and will provide information on the topic, some real life stories and links to other sources of support. They will take place in Manchester (Saturday 29 April) and Birmingham (Saturday 13 May) – email Robert Stebbings if you’d like to attend.
  • We have re-launched our popular “Journeys” series – eight guides for different groups of family members affected by substance use. All are available for free online.
  • We have submitted a response to NICE’s consultation on child abuse and neglect, highlighting the role drugs and alcohol play.

Regional Roundup

Here is a roundup of what’s been going on regionally:
  • In April we held a very successful Family Support Networking event in the North East in conjunction with Clinks, NEPACS and Lifeline. The aim was to facilitate stronger links between prison and community family support services.
  • We’ve also launched our child-to-parent abuse (CPA) training in the West Midlands and have almost filled the spaces on the practitioner training day in May.
  • Contract changes often come into effect in April and we encourage any service that has changed hands to update us so that we can update our mailing lists and new services can get involved in regional events.
To find out more about our regional work, contact Becky Allon-Smith.

Parliamentary Roundup

Draft Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Amendment) Order 2017
Sarah Newton MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, opened a debate on a draft amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The other representative speakers were Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab) and Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP).

Alcohol: Children's Health
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment it has made of whether the way in which supermarkets and convenience stores display and promote alcohol can endanger the well-being and health of children. This led to a debate with other representative speakers among the Lords.

Department of Health: Written Question
Andrew Bridgen MP asked the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he has given to the development of a national plan to increase the number of people tested for hepatitis C. Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, replied that a cross-government expert group on viral hepatitis is being established to provide strategic direction and advice around hepatitis C (and other viral hepatitides).


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 closes on 12 June 2017.

Call for evidence on social action - APPG on Complex Needs and Dual Diagnosis
This APPG is looking for evidence around how social action can drive better services for people with complex needs e.g. by improving outcomes, preventing crisis, reducing stigma or developing more responsive joined up services. The call for evidence is open until 20 May 2017, please send your evidence to

State of Caring Survey 2017 - Carers UK
Each year Carers UK run the State of Caring Survey to get a full picture of what it means to care for a family member or friend. The results from this survey give Carers UK the evidence to campaign to improve carers' rights, tackle inequality and raise awareness of carers to the general public.


Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society (pdf) - House of Lords Charities Select Committee
This wide ranging report underlines the importance of the charity sector in Britain and how in order for the sector to continue, charities need to adapt to the changing world around them. It provides 42 recommendations on how this can be achieved, covering issues across the spectrum including governance, funding, volunteering and advocacy. This useful commentary from NCVO summarises the report.

Improving lives: Helping workless families (pdf) - Department for Work and Pensions
In this publication DWP set out their plans to improve the support given to workless families and their children, so that they can overcome the complex problems they face and children can reach their full potential. It includes proposals to support people with drug and alcohol dependencies into work, implementing recommendations from Dame Carol Black’s Review.

Call for national helpline to support patients affected by Prescribed Drug Dependence (PDD) (pdf) - APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence

This APPG has produced a report calling upon the government to fund a national helpline to support patients that are addicted to prescription drugs. The helpline would include a range of services including information on prescribed drug dependence, slow tapering protocols, coping strategies, support for carers and family members as well as liaison with primary care services.

Estimates of alcohol dependence in England, including estimates of children living in a household with an adult with alcohol dependence - University of Sheffield and King's College London
PHE and the Department of Health commissioned this research to assess the prevalence of alcohol dependence in England, and provide estimates on the number of children living in a household with alcohol dependent adults and the proportion of dependent drinkers looking to reduce their alcohol use. Key findings indicated that there are 595,131 adults with alcohol dependence in England, 207,617 children live with an adult with dependence and 57% of alcohol dependent adults are estimated to have a desire to cut down their drinking.

Estimates of the number of children who live with opiate users, England 2011/12 (pdf) - Public Health Institute (PHI), Liverpool John Moores University
PHI have combined reports from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) with estimates of the number of opiate users in England (in 2011/12) to provide estimates of the number of children who may be considered as ‘affected by parental opiate use’ in England. The report also provides specific estimates of the number of children who live with female and male opiate users. Findings indicated 108,125 children live with male opiate users and 53,769 children live with female opiate users.

Addaction – Novel Psychoactive Substances insight report: “The View from Young People" - Addaction
Addaction have identified, through their work with the Young People’s Health Partnership, a need to improve the ability of health and social care services to understand and respond to young people’s use of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS). They have released a research summary report to understand  the reasons for taking NPS and to identify ways in which information and help services could be provided.

NCVO Volunteers’ Week
Volunteer’s week will be held from the 1-7 June 2017. This is an annual campaign held for charities, communities and organisations to thank their volunteers and celebrate the difference they make.

In Focus

A major issue for families and individuals affected by the drug or alcohol misuse of a loved one is the extreme sense of isolation and shame that they feel.  Before I started in my role as a Family Service Development Coordinator in Essex, I already knew that this was the case and yet I am continually reminded of it and recognise it in many of the people I speak to.  There is often a sense of real desperation in their voice when they first contact me for support.

I started work with Adfam in September 2015.  My role covers the mid Essex area and has been jointly funded by Essex County Council and the local Clinical Commissioning Group.  A key focus was to set up and establish on-going public information sessions for family members or individuals affected by another person’s drug and/or alcohol use.  I had previous experience working with the police service, in a multi-agency environment with substance misusing offenders and already knew how this also created many difficulties and challenges for their families.  I had built up good working relationships with drug and alcohol services in the county and when I applied to work with Adfam it was because I wanted to try and use my skills and experience to help put in place some provision for the family members who I had seen struggling.

At the beginning it proved to be difficult to engage directly with individuals and family members affected in this way and the Adfam information sessions that we set up were not very well attended.  As mentioned at the start, the sense of isolation and shame that family members feel seems to be a very significant barrier.  So, adjusting the approach, I now provide a more bespoke tailored service for people and work with them on either a one-to-one or group-work basis depending on their preference.  Using a CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) method, I support family members by listening to their concerns and difficulties in respect of their loved one and help them to make sense of their situation and where necessary establish appropriate boundaries.  The number of people referred to me has gradually risen as this service has become more publicised and established.  The positive and often very heartfelt feedback received from individuals who have been supported in this way, who have said that it has been invaluable in helping them with practical advice and in realising they are not alone, has been has been very rewarding to receive. 

I look forward to continuing work with Adfam to build, strengthen and extend the support available in Essex for people struggling with the addiction of a family member or close friend and I warmly welcome anyone who may wish to know a bit more about the service we provide to get in touch!

With best wishes

Kate Sale
Family Service Development Coordinator (Essex)      
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