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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Support at hand for families of people suffering substance abuse

Supporting a loved one suffering from substance addiction can be one of the most challenging roles many face.

Now, help is at hand, thanks to the expansion of an established program, initially tailored to help families and friends of those using crystal methamphetamine.

Researchers from the University of Newcastle Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research and the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre developed the Family and Friends Support Program (FFSP) after conducting the research project ‘Cracks in the Ice.’

It was through this program the team discovered there was a high need for support for families and friends of people using Ice.

Now, thanks to funding from the Australian Government Department of Health, the program has been expanded to include families and friends supporting anyone with a substance use issue, including alcohol.

“The program recognises that supporting someone who is drinking or using substances can be extremely stressful, and aims to assist families and friends to best manage the demands of this role,” she said.

The FFSP is an online cognitive behavioural therapy program based on a series of modules.

It includes information and activities on how families and friends can help their loved ones, with a specific emphasis on the person providing the support and their often unmet needs.

The program also aims to provide health workers with access to training, information, and a referral pathway.

University of Newcastle Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin, a researcher with the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Brain and Mental Health Program, said families and friends could play a critical role in the recovery of people using alcohol and other drugs.

“Families and friends are integral to effective support and recovery of people with substance use issues, however they often neglect their own needs,” Professor Kay-Lambkin said.

“People often speak of being ‘time poor’ and sometimes [get] caught up in the caring role.

“An online program gives participants privacy, and a capacity to decide ‘when and where’ they work through the modules, in a totally confidential medium.”

The expanded program will be showcased on 27 November through a public webinar Lights, Camera, Action: Launching a vital, new program to support families and friends.

Professor Kay-Lambkin will speak about why the program was developed, the place e-health programs have in complementing face-to-face support services, and her passion for improving the lives of people with mental illness and substance use issues.

Click here to register for the webinar.