Home > The forgotten carers: Support for adult family members affected by a relative’s drug problems.

Copello, Alex and Templeton, Lorna (2012) The forgotten carers: Support for adult family members affected by a relative’s drug problems. London: UK Drug Policy Commission.

PDF (The forgotten carers) - Published Version
PDF (A UK-wide survey of services for adult family members) - Supplemental Material
PDF (Qualitative Interviews with Commissioners and Service Providers in England and Scotland) - Supplemental Material
PDF (A Review of Policy and Guidance Documents across the UK) - Supplemental Material

This work builds on the first phase of UKDPC family research, with a study investigating the extent and nature of support provided to adult family members affected by a relative’s drug problems.

The study found that adults who have a relative with drug problems have been increasingly recognised as a group with significant needs as a result of the stress of living and caring for someone with such problems. Policy has reflected this increased recognition to an extent, but there is still lack of clarity in the identification of this specific group of family members. Children affected by parental drug misuse have been increasingly recognised in policy and provision. Families in general have also been identified as a useful source of support for treatment and recovery of the person with the drug problem. However, apart from a few exceptions, adult family members as a specific group are not yet clearly identified in policy and guidance.

The work concluded that services should to a greater extent provide help for adult family members in their own right, as well as to support them as part of treatment of their drug-using relative. It suggests much more assertive promotion of help for adult relatives, including advertising services at locations like GP surgeries, carer organisations and local community centres. It also recommends that services take more account of the needs of adult family members, including with routine assessment of adult family members’ needs when drug users enter treatment.

The lack of routine data sources providing information on the numbers affected continues to hamper the development of services to meet the full range of needs of adult family members. Therefore adult family members need to be identified as a specific group in national and local policies, accompanied by data collection to provide estimates of need at local level followed by robust systems for monitoring, coordinating and delivering a range of services to respond to the range of need.

This second phase of the project involved three tasks:
• A review of policy and guidance. Over 50 documents from six areas of social policy from across the four countries of the UK were reviewed thematically.
• A web survey of 253 services across the United Kingdom.
• An in-depth mapping exercise of current support provision. This involved 100 qualitative interviews across England and Scotland. In England 63 interviews (20 commissioners of drug treatment and 43 treatment service providers and other key informants) were conducted across 20 areas from five regions (North East, West Midlands, East Midlands, London and the South West). In Scotland 37 interviews (8 Alcohol and Drug Partnership [ADP] coordinators and 29 service providers and other key informants) were conducted.

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