Families are crucial contributors to recovery from a drug or alcohol problem, according to a new report from VOCAL (Voice of Carers Across Lothian) which draws on the experiences of hundreds of carers supported by their Family Support Addictions service in Edinburgh.

The report – Family role in recovery: The positive impact of family support on recovery from addiction – examines and evidences the positive contribution of family members and carers to the recovery journey when they are supported in their own right and included as equal partners in the recovering addicts’ care.

One carer, who has received support from VOCAL’s Family Support Addictions service, voiced her own experience:

‘Supporting someone with an addiction can be a rollercoaster ride of constant demands and emotions. Being treated as an equal partner has given me the confidence to talk about the addiction and has improved the relationship with my sister’.

Nicholas Smith of the Edinburgh Alcohol and Drug Partnership (EADP) welcomes the report:

“This report challenges some traditional ways of thinking and gives us a real opportunity to consider and develop our response to family members, as we continue to develop a more recovery- oriented system of care”

Shirley Green, one of the authors of the report and team leader of the Family Support Addictions service, says:

‘Families are positive drivers in recovery from addiction, they are often best placed to provide emotional and practical support, and to manage re-integration into the family – all increasing the likelihood of a sustained recovery. Investment in families and peer support builds resilience and equips carer with the right tools for their role.’

VOCAL Chief Executive, Sebastian Fischer also comments:

‘For too long families have been seen as victims in the cycle of addiction, and their contribution to recovery has been overlooked. This report highlights the positive impact family support can make at every stage of the recovery journey. Supporting families as equal partners in recovery should guide all future planning for addictions service in Edinburgh.’

In addition to the report, VOCAL have released an online video of one carers’ story of supporting a family member with an addiction to alcohol. In the video, the carer explains in his own words how the support he received enabled him to continue to provide care for the family member involved and go through his own journey of recovery. The video can be viewed online here.