Stories Of Survival: Families Affected by Addiction Share Advice


The label around the brown package says simply: “love starts with listening”. Inside, there are headphones and an MP3 player pre-loaded with just one track, Relationship Realities. But it’s not the latest chart topping song, nor is it a popular new audiobook. It’s actually a collection of short stories and relationship advice from people living in families affected by drug or alcohol misuse, recorded to help those in similar situations.

Funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, the audio and its use is being piloted and studied by two charities, OnePlusOne and Adfam, working in partnership. The stories are distributed by family support workers across the UK on CDs and as MP3s. Although it’s also available to listen to online, the idea is that by working with support workers, the experiences and advice of other families will be put directly into the hands of people affected by addiction.

Chris McEvoy is one of the family support workers who has taken part in the pilot. She works for Spoda, a small Derbyshire-based charity that supports families and friends affected by drug misuse and says it was easy to integrate Relationship Realities into her work.

“Obviously one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to support but I could have quite easily handed more out. I gave it to a lady for example who is currently in crisis. Her son is in and out of prison all the time and has mental health problems associated with his drug use. She said being able to listen to it on her own in a quiet place has helped to ground her. She has listened to it several times.”

Almost one in five adults in the UK (19%) have personal experience of drug addiction either directly or through family or friends, and nearly 1.5 million adults will be significantly affected by a relative’s drug use (pdf). In addition, it is estimated that 1.6 million people have a mild, moderate or severe alcohol dependence.

McEvoy hopes the pilot will be rolled out so other families she supports can benefit. “We try to give resources out – books and DVDs – but many of them are outdated. I found this resource had stories that were more up to date and the families can relate to them a lot better. I think it’s definitely given the families that feeling that they are not alone. It gives them something to hang on to.

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