UKDPC research has estimated that in the UK, at the very least:
- nearly 1.5 million adults will be significantly affected by a family member’s drug use;
- the cost of the harms they experience as a result amounts to about £1.8 billion per year; and
- the support they provide would cost the NHS or Local Authorities about £750 million to provide if it was not available.
These figures are minimum estimates, but nevertheless demonstrate the enormous impact of drug use on adult family members and the value derived from the support they provide and highlights the importance of identifying and supporting this often unrecognised group. To build on the welcome increase in focus on families of drug users in national drug policies across the UK and the guidance that has been produced, action is required in the following areas to deliver the desired benefits to families:
- Improving the level and quality of direct support to help families in their own right
- Challenging the stigma associated with drug dependency
- Making the drug treatment system more supportive and inclusive of families
- Leadership – responsibility for driving forward an agenda to enhance support for families needs to be placed with an identified champion at national and local levels.
- Information/knowledge development is essential for ensuring the adequacy and appropriateness of service provision – currently even the most basic data is lacking.
This was one of two publications that was written as part of this project. The other publication is:
- Adult family members and carers of dependent drug users: prevalence, social cost, resource savings and treatment response
A subsequent project on the same group led to several publications:
- The Forgotten Carers: support for adult family members affected by a relative’s drug problems
- Supporting adult family members of people with drug problems in Scotland
- A review of policy and guidance documents across the UK
- A UK-wide survey of services for adult family members
- Qualitative interviews with commissioners and service providers in England and Scotland