Support for people affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol use
If you have a family member or friend who is using drugs or alcohol problematically, you probably know by now that addiction doesn’t just affect the user. Many people are impacted by someone else’s drug or alcohol use, and it is normal to feel worried, frustrated and helpless. We can help you deal with your situation so you don’t have to suffer alone.
Who is it for?
We provide support to people in Blackburn and Darwen who are affected by someone else’s drug or alcohol use. The service is free, confidential and non-judgemental.
The person you are caring for or concerned about could be a partner, child, parent, sibling, friend or neighbour. Whoever it is, it can be very hard to help the person or know what to do for the best.
What can I expect from the service?
Michael, our Drug and Alcohol Carers Advisor, gives 1-1 support. She will chat to you about your situation and find out what help you are looking for, whether it’s information about drugs and their effects, practical advice around treatment options or simply someone to talk to about your concerns.
In addition to the 1-1 support, we also offer the following:
- Support group every other week Dates and times
- Monthly coffee and chat drop-in at Café Hub in Darwen (first Wednesday of every month)
- Learning workshops about addiction and relevant topics
- Opportunities to relax and de-stress
- Social activities
- Chance to focus on your own wellbeing
- Support to manage the situation.
How can I get in touch?
You can contact us on 01254 688440
Can you support young people?
We support over 18’s. Young people and children under the age of 18 can access the Young Carers service. To find out more, call 01254 692709.
(*Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons)
When I first found out about David* using heroin, I felt like a bit of a mug because we’d been living together for a while and I was sure I’d know straight away if something was wrong. I suppose he was just really good at hiding his addiction. I was trying to help him get better but nothing seemed to be working, David was going to services but I wasn’t seeing any changes. I didn’t want to give up on him but I was really struggling to cope. I tried to talk to my friends about how I was feeling but they just kept telling me to leave him.
When I first spoke to Clare, I felt a huge relief at being able to talk to someone who was outside my situation, who didn’t judge me for standing by David. Clare arranged for me to have some massages as a way of relaxing and making some time for myself, and I booked on to their Families Understanding Addiction course, where I learned about stages of addiction and how I can help at each stage, as well as helping me realise how I can best support David in his recovery instead of trying to do it for him. I know when I started going to the Carers Service I didn’t know what to expect, but all I can say is that I find the 1-1’s with Clare really helpful, and I really like the fact that she has never told me to leave David (I think he was worried about that too!) The support group is great because you meet others who are going through the same thing and understand what it’s like, and it’s nice to be able to offer support in return. I just wish I’d plucked the courage up sooner to go to the service instead of waiting until things got to breaking point. There are loads of services for people who are addicted but it’s really important to have something for us family members too.
My daughter Lisa* smokes cannabis really heavily and drinks far too much. She’s living with friends at the moment but we know that she’s got no money and she keeps asking to move home. I started getting support because I know that I can’t cope if she’s back at home with me and her mum and I feel really bad about this… everyone seems to think that parents are supposed to step in and help no matter what.
Speaking to Clare has helped, because before I had nobody to talk to about it. She’s also told me about the different support services in the area that could help Lisa, and help me realise that Lisa is an adult and is making choices about living how she does. I no longer feel guilty about not picking up the pieces every time she can’t pay a bill or wants something from us. Of course I love my daughter and want what’s best for her, but Clare helped me see that I was putting a lot of time and energy into someone who wasn’t helping themselves, which was making me ill. I now realise that I can’t cure her or control her behaviour. It might sound weird but even though I see less of Lisa now, we have more quality time with her. She’ll come round for a family meal a couple of times a month or we might go for a walk together. We still have our ups and downs but on the whole things are better for both of us when we see less of each other.
I’d recommend anyone who’s wondering what the service is all about to get in touch and give it a go. Even though in the beginning I wasn’t sure what could be done or whether it’d even help, all I can say now is that I’m in a better place because of it.
This is My Story – January 2015
Hi, I would like to tell you about my experience with the CASH service, which supports people who are affected by another person’s addiction.
Firstly I would like to tell you a bit about my background and my experience of living with someone who was and still is in active addiction. Since the age of fifteen, ten years ago, I started a long term relationship with a guy who smoked Cannabis on a daily basis. As the years went on and two children later his Cannabis use had grown out of control to the point where he was stealing, not only from me but from his own children, to fund his addiction. The relationship was horrific filled with arguments, lies and I did experience domestic violence on occasion. Towards the end of this relationship my own health began to deteriorate and I started to experience aggressive panic attacks without warning and these began to impact on my everyday life. The panic attacks got that bad that I went to my doctor and was prescribed anti-depressants. Following a further incident of theft I ended the relationship and asked him to leave. I hated him for what he had done to me and the children; I hated him for not being able to stop for us; and I hated the fact that I couldn’t make him stop!
I moved on with my life, I got back in contact with old friends and began to feel like me again. I stopped taking anti-depressants and the anxiety attacks did not return. However, in June 2014 I started a new relationship with a guy I had known for many years and had always been close to. I was aware that he too had a history of drug and alcohol abuse but what was different about him was that he admitted he had a problem and he had just come out of rehab. I was so happy because he was clean and sober! For the first two weeks our relationship was amazing, it was that good that I thought my entire life was finally complete, but I was wrong. My new partner relapsed after two weeks of leaving the rehab centre but I was unaware of this relapse. The first alarm bells that sounded started when I began to find different bits of tin foil in his pocket and random items around the house would go missing. I researched what I had found and questioned my new partner about this. At first he denied it, but in September 2014 he admitted to me that he was using again. I was horrified, I didn’t know what to do, I felt like I had fallen straight back into the same type of relationship that I had to fight so hard to get out of!
BUT THEN I found CASH! I asked my partner if there was any support that I could engage with because I couldn’t imagine going through the same emotions again; my anxiety was already returning by this point. I received a leaflet about the Carer’s Service and I contacted Clare, the Drug and Alcohol Carers Advisor, and she arranged for me to have a one to one session with her to discuss my situation and how she could help. I was extremely worried before going to my first appointment because I was going to have to admit how rubbish my new ‘amazing’ relationship had actually become. My friends and family only knew half the story and, even only knowing half of what was going on, they still only told me to JUST LEAVE HIM, YOU’RE WORTH MORE, and YOU CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER! But these to me were so unhelpful! I was worried that I was going to get the same sort of reaction at my one to one meeting but it was the complete opposite. I sat and spoke to Clare for a good hour or more, and I still regularly do. What Clare did for me was what nobody else has ever done, she sat and listened but did not judge me, didn’t try and make up my mind for me, she listened to what I was saying and offered me support in dealing with my situation that meant I didn’t have to finish my relationship.
I started going to the weekly support group to talk to other people in similar situations and I have met some amazingly strong people who are all going through the same emotions as I am just in different situations. The weekly support group has become an essential part of my week; it is a time when we can all discuss what is going on in our lives with as little or as much detail as we want. Just through sharing these experiences and receiving advice from both Clare and the other members helps me to feel relieved and ready to face whatever is next to come.
I have also benefited immensely from doing various courses with the CASH group and I have come to understand a lot more about what it is my partner, and in fact my ex-partner, are having to deal with; but through learning this I also have realised that I do not need to go through this with them! I can be there to support my new partner but I do not need to allow myself to be devoured by his addictive behaviour. The key thing that I have learnt is that knowledge is power and when you are faced with something that is frightful, alien and frustrating, the best thing to do is find out as much as you can about it because once you know what it is you are dealing with then you can deal with it in a much more positive and healthier way.
Another, fabulous reason to be involved with the CASH is that there are great events, trips and complimentary therapies that we get for the sole purpose of helping us to put ourselves first for once!
If you are someone who is struggling, or even just downright fed up, of having to deal with someone else’s addiction then I would advise you to get in touch with Clare and meet up for a chat. There are many more services that the CASH offer other than the ones I have mentioned above and you may find that you can benefit from these as well.
CASH has taken me from being someone who was so angry towards people who took drugs and couldn’t stop for the sake of their families, to being someone who understands what addiction is and that it is not something that can I can control, no matter how much I would like to be able to. I have been able to take a step back from the addiction and remain at a distance by concentrating on myself rather than my partner’s addiction.
I hope my story has helped you to understand that there is help out there for you! You are not on your own and you do not need to feel like anyone will judge you for ‘putting up with’ someone else’s addiction. We are all human and we all need support from others who know what we are going through.
Good Luck with your own journey and try to remember YOU need looking after as well!