Help to help them
WHEN someone in the family becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, everyone around them suffers. So how do you keep supporting someone you care about when all they want to do is keep using?
You love them dearly yet despise their behaviour. Broken promises, emotional through to physical abuse, immense sadness and loss of hope - no one chooses to be on this journey that seems to go on with no end in sight. Yet families hang in there despite the chaos and heartache.
So who supports the families?
"I have spoken to many dependent drug users and many have stated if it wasn't for the ongoing love and support from their family, they would not still be here,” Theo Chang, who manages Family Drug Support services in Coffs Harbour, said.
Drug use and the activities around it brings out fear in many people. Families often feel judged and blamed and this is especially damaging when they reach out for support.
"Here we have a situation where strong and loving people facing enormous challenges are made to feel that somehow they are part of the problem and this is simply not the case,” Theo said.
"All it does is isolates people, increases their feeling of helplessness and reduces hope. This is a nightmare few can understand.”
Family Drug Support provides support services specifically designed for family members of alcohol and drug dependents, including a local support group and annual Stepping Stones program.
"We have run the Stepping Stones course every year since 2005 in Coffs Harbour, bringing help and support to over 120 family members,” Theo said.
"I have seen the enormous difference from when people enter the course and when they leave. They are stronger, better supported and have taken on skills to better manage their relationship with the user. This will in turn help the user towards better outcomes.”
Jane* is a past course participant and mother of a drug-dependent son.
"Stepping Stones helped me accept that staying connected does not mean I have to remain helpless and lose myself - having a safe, non-judgmental space and to share in the collective wisdom and experience was a powerful, life-changing experience.”
The course aims to increase people's confidence and competence in managing drug issues.
It provides a reality-based approach that includes self-care and valuing self.
The course runs over two weekends, August 19-20 and 26-27, from 9.30am-4pm.
Bookings essential to Theo on 0402 604 354. For 24-hour support, phone toll-free 1300 368 186.
- Name changed.