As a family member, partner or friend of someone with an addiction, what rights and supports are available?
VOCAL’s Family Support Addictions service supported relatives, partners and friends to developed the Alcohol Charter. It outlines what people should expect when they are supporting someone with an alcohol addiction and working with services such as health and social care.
The views and insight that family members can contribute are very important. Often it is friends and family who have a very detailed history or day to day knowledge of the individual who has the addiction. In addition to this, decisions about treatment for that person are likely to impact on family members as well. Family members can expect to have their view to be valued and recognised as a key partner in the provision of care (NHS Carer Information Strategy).
Support for Yourself
Someone’s drug use or drinking behaviour affects (at least) two other people in a significant way. You have the right to be offered support for yourself in your own right and as a ‘carer’, in addition receiving relevant information about addiction and possible treatments.
Understandably, services and professionals are not able to give out information about the person with the addiction without their consent. At times this can feel frustrating as a concerned friend or family member. You do, however, have the right to discuss yourconcerns with the practitioner and inform them of relevant developments, along with the impact on your own situation.
It is important that you are able to feedback individual experiences to service providers and to be involved in consultation.