Home > Supporting families affected by substance use and domestic violence.

Galvani, Sarah (2010) Supporting families affected by substance use and domestic violence. London: Adfam, University of Bedfordshire and Stella Project.

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The aims of the research project were:
• To explore the views and perspectives of family members of substance users on the relationship between alcohol, drugs and domestic abuse
• To develop practice and policy recommendations based on these findings and the wider literature
• To establish what support and resources family members need on these issues.

What this project has achieved is to further the understanding of the experiences of two groups of family members in relation to substance use, relationships and domestic abuse. In particular it recommends a number of important changes and developments for those educating and supporting young people living with parental substance use in terms of relationships and domestic abuse. It has also highlighted key messages for professionals from young people that getting help for alcohol and drug problems does not automatically lead to better relationships and a better home environment. The research with the adult family members resulted in findings focussing on child to parent abuse, an area that is under-researched and all but invisible in terms of policy and practice frameworks. This must be addressed. At the same time family support services will benefit from information and resources that help them to more fully identify and address partner abuse to ensure their services are able to maximise their support for family members suffering or perpetrating domestic abuse in intimate relationships.

Implications for policy, practice and research:
Findings from both strands of the research project have important implications for policy, practice and research. Key to both is ensuring that policy frameworks support practice developments and improvements for the sake of family members affected by a loved one’s alcohol or drug problem. However it is important that the gaps identified in the research evidence are filled and that policy and practice remains, as far as possible, evidence based. For example, further research is needed which includes family members from black, asian and minority ethnic groups as well as larger samples with comparison groups that allow for better analysis by age and gender. In the meantime immediate actions are possible to support individual and agencies providing family support services.

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