Support for families with drug users

A NEW support group for families affected by a loved one’s drug or alcohol use and run by parents who’ve lived through it themselves, has started in Fremantle.

The Parent and Family Drug Support Group meets for two hours on Saturday mornings, giving participants an opportunity to air issues where there is support and no judgement.

Lily (not her real name) is one of the facilitators and says barriers that often stop people seeking help are feelings of shame and fear of criticism.

When her son’s addiction escalated and he started getting in strife she overcame her own fears and sought help through a group at the Palmerston Association.

Lily says the supportive atmosphere was liberating. “The person who facilitated the group was great, and you were with all those people who are on the same journey,” she told the Herald.

“We are trying to do the same in Freo.

“It’s not to say ‘do this or that’ but to facilitate so that other parents can share things like ‘I tried this or that’.”

Lily says parents naturally arrive hoping to find some secret to getting their child into rehab, but over time the tougher reality hits home.

“You have to come to the decision that you have to leave it to [your child] to change their mind, or you will lose that child.

“I have a thing on my fridge which says: ‘You can not control it; you did not do it.’

“We help parents to cope with that and to care for themselves.”

Despite that, Alcohol and Drug Support Service coordinator Charlotte McConnell says that research shows that when parents or families do seek help, there is usually a better outcome for the user.

Ms McConnell says the group is being run through the Fremantle Community Alcohol and Drug Service on Queen Street and is under the umbrella of the Mental Health Commission.

“We also offer a telephone service, parent-to-parent, so that people can access the service in any area.”

Ms McConnell said parents can dip in and out of meetings as needed: “When things are going well, some people just want to have a break and holiday from it.”

She said Christmas was a very difficult time for families dealing with addiction, because there was always more alcohol around and other stresses such as stretched finances.

Anyone interested in joining the group can simply attend on Saturdays from 10.30am-12noon at 22 Queen Street (third floor).

The 24-hour hotline, which can connect people to either a trained counsellor or a volunteer parent, can be reached on 9442 5050.


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