Families can work time to end the blame game
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Families can work – Time to end the blame game. Deborah Cameron, Chief Executive add action. Drugs, alcohol & families. 360,000 adult problem drug users in UK < 3 m adults with alcohol dependency 8 m adults with alcohol use disorder 1.5 m children in substance misusing homes

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Families can work time to end the blame game

Families can work – Time to end the blame game

Deborah Cameron, Chief Executive


Drugs alcohol families
Drugs, alcohol & families

  • 360,000 adult problem drug users in UK

  • < 3 m adults with alcohol dependency

  • 8 m adults with alcohol use disorder

  • 1.5 m children in substance misusing homes

  • > 1 m children whose parents abuse alcohol

  • At least 350,000 where there is drug taking

Consequences for children
Consequences for children

  • Loss of respect

  • Worry about parents

  • Disrupted education

  • Angry, disaffected & potentially emotionally stunted

  • Risk of physical neglect – accidents

  • Risk of abuse

  • 7 times more likely to use drugs as adults

Addaction s vulnerable children
Addaction’s vulnerable children

  • 27,000 service users

  • 26% acknowledge dependent children =

  • 10,000 children living with Class A drug users

  • Some services – 50%-66% =

  • Up to 30,000 children affected

  • About 3,000 service users under 18



The family issues
The family issues:

  • Families often ignored

  • BUT relatives may be harmed

  • Often provide support

  • OR they may be part of the problem

    And they are blamed

Addaction s work to support families
Addaction’s work to support families

  • Maya Project, South London

  • Mother & baby service, Glasgow

  • Addaction Hackney – access to child care & a safe environment

  • Working with the whole family - Breaking the Cycle and Youngaddaction plus pilot programmes

  • Pilots independently evaluated by MHRDU at University of Bath

  • Addaction Derby Open College Network (OCN) qualifications

The challenge
The challenge

  • Treatment model based on individual pathology, not social system

  • No resources invested in measuring impact

  • Adults reluctant to share information about family

  • Fear that children will be removed

  • Professionals expect chaotic families to meet unrealistic targets

Introducing alpana
Introducing Alpana

  • Alpana Ali lives in London’s Bengali community.

  • She began using heroin and crack cocaine 5 years ago when her marriage ran into problems.

  • Her daughter, Amita, 11 years old, was placed in local authority care.

  • Her husband Darshan does not understand drug use or how it could be treated. His English was poor.

Alpana what we did
Alpana: What we did

  • Supported Alpana to engage with local community treatment service, where she received a script for methadone.

  • There was pressure from Alpana’s husband and family to give up her methadone treatment:

    In partnership with Bengali speaking co-worker, we supported father and maternal grandparents to:

    Increase awareness about drugs and treatment

    Re-build trusting relationships

    Talk to children about drugs

    Help mother to complete treatment

Alpana and the result
Alpana: And the result

  • Alpana has been drug-free for 3 months

  • We worked with social services to review family progress and look at alternatives to adoption for Alpana’s daughter. Children’s Services plan to return Amita permanently to family

  • She will be soon be returned to her grandparents care and into her father’s custody.

  • Alpana and her husband are expecting their second child - we have drawn up a child protection plan for the unborn child.

What have we learned so far
What have we learned so far?

  • Training & support for front line staff is fundamental

  • Complex problems need tailor-made multi-agency solutions

  • If risk assessment allows ….

  • Give families a real chance ….

  • People can make extraordinary changes

  • Essential to share thoughts, concerns & ideas between agencies

To conclude
To conclude:

  • Substance misusing parents are usually keen to give their children a better life

  • If professionals recognise this, it can make all the difference

  • Really practical help is crucial – many services are not family friendly

  • Honesty is essential