State of the Family Support Sector 2023

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State of the Family Support Sector 2023

Adfam is pleased to launch its latest research report, State of the Family Support Sector 2023 (pdf), which examines current circumstances and practice in supporting families affected by substance use. This includes current trends, developments, strengths and challenges facing those working to support family members.

Our 2023 report is the only research looking at family support in this way in the UK since Adfam’s previous State of the Sector report in 2019, with our latest version taking account of the unique circumstances and developments that have taken place since, including the covid pandemic, cost of living crisis and new Drugs Strategy. The report’s findings are based entirely on the input and responses of those working within or connected to services that support families affected by substance use.

The Government’s Drugs Strategy acknowledges the impact of addiction on families: “Addiction also has a devastating impact on families. Families can support and aid recovery, but they also have their own support needs” (Harm to Hope Drugs Strategy 2021, p36). Furthermore, Harm to Hope’s first Annual Report published last month highlighted that in addition to the substantial funding put into the drug and alcohol sector, investment has also been made in family support through Family Hubs and the Supporting Families Programme. However, our research suggests that, probably because of competing demands on hard pressed commissioners, contrary to the Government’s intention this new investment is not filtering through to family support within drug and alcohol treatment services or dedicated services for families affected by drugs and alcohol.

Out of the respondents to our online survey, only 8% indicated that they were aware of their organisation receiving additional money to use for family or carer work.

Furthermore, many practitioners working in family support are working with higher caseloads than ever before, alongside growing complexity of the clients they are working with and their situation with their family member with a substance use problem.

The report estimates that only 21% of the families of people in treatment are getting any help and emphasises the importance of having properly funded support available to these families, providing expert advice, guidance, counselling and friendship. This support can make a vital difference in the lives and outcomes for families and their loved ones.

Download the full report here (pdf).