As featured in The Country Web No: 59 Edition.
Today’s family faces many challenges including alcohol or other drug use. Sometimes this can dominate a family for years and everyone can be affected—parents, siblings and friends. Children of drug or alcohol dependent parents are particularly at risk.
Family Drug Support (FDS) is a caring, non-religious organisation which provides non judgemental, non-directive support and information to families and friends of alcohol/drug dependent people across Australia.
FDS was founded in 1997 by Tony Trimingham following the loss of his son to a heroin overdose. In searching for support for himself and his family, he realised that there was very little available. In speaking out about his concerns in the media, he was contacted by other families who told of similar experiences and this, combined with an overwhelming response to a public meeting, led to the formation of FDS.
FDS believe families are important and any connection with the alcohol/drug user is critical. Sadly though, many families are left to work through tough issues without support. Family support is crucial when dealing with dependent alcohol and other drug use. The journey for families is chaotic, often abusive and lengthy. In order to cope better, become resilient and survive the journey, families need on-going support. Without this, families can become isolated and helpless.
■ Seek help—don’t deal with things in isolation. Talk openly with the
■ Listen to the drug user without ‘reacting’. Look for clues that they
want to talk.
■ Try to avoid control and direction. These tactics usually lead to more
underground activity and resistance to change.
■ Acceptance is not the same as approval.
■ Support is not the same as rescue.
■ Love and acceptance is not the same as being a ‘doormat’.
■ Listening is the most useful communication skill.
■ Defer communication if you are not calm.
■ Be clear on boundaries set. Don’t make them unrealistic.
■ Be informed. Educate yourself about drugs and how they affect people.
While there are no quick fixes and we can’t force people to admit drugs are causing them problems or push them into treatment, we can learn strategies to reduce confusion and hopelessness associated with drug taking behaviour as well as maintaining a relationship with the drug user. One mother said after completing the FDS’ Stepping Forwards course, ‘From being really anxious and confused, I learned to support my daughter without giving up my own life. We now have a reasonable relationship and I feel I’m coping’.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
The Stepping Forwards course provides information on helping families to cope better and learn more about their journey with their loved one. To find out more contact Julie Clark on 0400 113 422.
The following interactive websites provide information and resources: www.fds.org.au and www.yds.org.au
The National Telephone runs 24 hours 7 days a week. Call 1300 368 186.