Swanswell backs calls for better substance misuse carer support

14 March 2012

Swanswell’s backing research released today calling for better support across the UK for adult carers affected by a family member’s drug misuse.

Swanswell, a national charity which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to a new report from the UK Drug Policy Commission (UKDPC) which examines existing services available for carers of loved ones affected by drug misuse.

It says there are around 1.4 million adults affected by a loved one’s drug misuse in the UK and the value of the support they provide would cost the equivalent of £747 million if it was delivered by health and social care providers (2008 prices).

Among the findings, the report recognises how vital the support from family members is but highlights the apparent difficulties in identifying those carers and developing robust, integrated services to suit their needs.

Commissioners recognise the importance of working closely with service users for treatment but in Barnsley, they went a step further and worked with Swanswell to develop another service specifically for people looking after relatives affected by drugs or alcohol.

The carer support service has been integrated in to the Barnsley treatment system since 2010, offering emotional and practical support ranging from financial advice regarding carers allowance applications to understanding their loved ones treatment and recovery.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘We know that caring for someone affected by drugs or alcohol can be a confusing, frustrating and lonely experience, so we welcome today’s report calling for more integrated support for the forgotten carers.

It’s estimated around 1.4 million adults are affected by a loved one’s drug misuse but in many cases, carers don’t come forward for help because they’re worried about the stigma attached to their family member’s drug misuse.

It’s about time the conversation around drugs changed so we can remove this stigma and encourage people to get the help they need to change and be happy, without them feeling they’ve done something wrong.

Swanswell’s carer support service in Barnsley is a great example of how carer support can be integrated into existing treatment services, providing advice and information for relatives who play an essential role in a loved one’s recovery.’

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