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New report - Families of Veterans with a Substance Use Problem

Adfam, in collaboration with the University of York, and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, is today launching a new research report outlining the experiences and needs of families of veterans with substance use problems (FVSUs), along with a new model of support specifically for FVSUs.

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Our research found that FVSUs are unlikely to seek or be offered help for themselves, even if a veteran engages with support, whilst the wellbeing of a veteran’s family can be significantly affected by their problem substance use, both during and after leaving the Armed Forces, with FVSUs reporting high levels of isolation and loneliness as well as extreme distress, despair, and hopelessness.

Alcohol was the primary substance use problem for veterans and was linked with the availability of alcohol and its regular and heavy use within the Armed Forces and after service, substance use was associated with the challenges of integrating back into civilian life, ongoing struggles to cope with service experiences, being unable to break the pattern of excessive drinking and not being able to ask for help. A perceived ‘culture of silence’ within the Armed Forces also illustrated how the experiences of families of veterans with substance use problems may differ from non-veteran families and can influence the decision of whether to seek help.

The presence of other problems such as mental health issues, violence, abuse, criminal behaviour, employment and financial difficulties were identified by respondents as complicating and exacerbating how families are affected.

Our flexible, multi-component support model, Family Force, has been developed as part of the research to support FVSUs. We recommended that this model be shared and rolled out across support services to ensure these families have access to the support they need.

The full press release for this report launch is available on the Forces in Mind Trust website

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