Jan 08th 2019

New support group for friends and families affected by harmful addictions

A NEW support group at City Hospital has been praised for its effort to help families and friends cope with their loved ones’ addictions.
The Support Group, which started two months ago, is being run by two volunteers Dave and Tina James with support from the Alcohol Team at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust (SWBH).
Dave explained: “We are both qualified facilitators and we aim to provide a safe environment in which people can feel confident to speak about their concerns and receive the support they need.
“We’ve actually been through this journey ourselves as a family member used to have a serious drug dependency. Therefore, we absolutely understand how challenging it is for families and friends when trying to help their loved ones.
“At our sessions, we provide confidential support for friends and family members of individuals whose alcohol use has become problematic, in order for them to feel more confident in dealing with situations. They will learn helpful different tools and ways of dealing with the problems caused by their loved ones’ alcohol misuse, such as better communication, how to cope with conflict, boundaries and support change.
“There are many support groups for people with addictive behaviour, but not many for friends and families. In the UK, it is estimated that several million families are directly affected by substance use and addictions. They also need help because addictive behaviour affects families’ finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing.
“On average, we see five to six people per session and hope to see more so we can support them all.”
Peter Marple, Alcohol Practitioner at SWBH, said: “The idea of bringing this support group to our Trust started when I met Dave at an event. After learning about what they had been doing and attending a few sessions myself, I felt that this group would be greatly beneficial to families and friends who need support during a difficult time.
“When I learned that the group were looking for a new venue to run their sessions, I spoke to Arlene Copland, our Alcohol Lead Nurse, about hosting the group at one of our hospitals. Arlene was excited about the idea and gave it her full support.
“We are now able to meet at City Hospital twice a month. During the sessions, if people have medical questions, I can step in and answer them.”
Dave, who is a full-time engineer, added: “We’re so grateful for the Trust’s support in giving us a place to run the evening sessions. It makes a huge difference to the people that we are helping.”
The group meets every first and third Wednesday, between 6–7.30pm, at the Diabetes Seminar Room on the first floor. Everyone is welcome and no booking required.
If you would like more information about the group, you can contact Peter via email at peter.marple@nhs.net and Dave at dave.smartff@protonmail.com.

 Dave and Tina’s top tips to cope with people who have harmful addictions:  

·         Prioritise your own self-care and stay safe.

·         Connect with other supportive families and friends, so that you feel less isolated.

·         Take time to learn and understand more about addictive behaviours, what we can and can’t change.

·         Learn positive communication tools to improve listening and talking with our loved ones.

·         Avoid confrontations when your loved ones are under the influence of their drug of choice. 


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