At Family Drug Support Australia the health and wellbeing of family members is paramount. In the ever-changing climate of COVID-19 the uncertainty is real, and for a family member supporting someone with a drug and/or alcohol dependence, the challenges they face have been exacerbated with limited access to services and means of support. For families accessing FDS, we hear your courage in navigating complexities during this time. The reality is though we don’t truly know what the impacts are for these families currently doing a lot of hard work, continuing to be there for their family member.
What we do know is that due to the shame associated with drug use it is very common for families to talk about the fear of disclosure, be that with their work colleagues, other family members or friends. They are frightened of being condemned as responsible for their family member’s drug use. They are afraid of reputations, both theirs personally and that of who they care about, and worry that if they do tell someone, they’ll be tarnished with the same brush as every other ‘drug addict.’
At FDS, we know that an individual’s drug use is not a reflection of their family. We know that drug use does not discriminate and it touches every single sector of our society from politicians, artists, teachers to tradespeople. Why is it that some families have three children and only one ventures down this path? There are a million answers to that question and yet none at all. The concerning thing for me as a worker is the silence that exists around chaotic and risky drug use, and how stigma acts as a barrier, preventing people from seeking help. Here are some of what we’re hearing on our support line:
- Family members finding it difficult to procure drugs
- Family members experiencing unexpected withdrawal
- Limited access to alcohol and drug treatment facilities
- Family members lapsing in self-isolation
- Family members ignoring social distancing and isolation protocols
Maybe what we need now more than ever with coronavirus is a calmer and pragmatic approach, which reminds us of what is important. With every crisis there is growth and families learn to become resilient and often, continue to remain connected regardless of the situations they find themselves in. Maybe COVID-19 brings us the unforeseen luxury of stepping back and practising self-care – whatever that may be for you – enjoying a quiet walk, listening to music and making the decision to reach out for help.
FDS is upholding all coronavirus restrictions and has designated additional resources to our National Support Line 1300 368 186, if you are looking for non-judgement support, even for a short de-brief, give us a call, it is free. We also have wonderful resources on our website including Family Stages of Change video, Stepping Forwards Session One video on YouTube and a Virtual Support Group Online. Once our communities are safe, we do look forward to resuming our face-to-face methods of support groups and programs such as Stepping Stones and Stepping Forwards. Until then, stay in touch.
Authors; Project and Family workers Chloe, Chrissie and Kendall.