Families holding onto hope

With the announcement of another heart-breaking drug death toll in Scotland on 30 July 2021, we are hearing the same stories about families’ desperate attempts to keep their loved ones alive.

At Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, we launched a new service called Holding On at the end of 2020 with funding from the Drug Deaths Taskforce. This service supports families who are living with extreme levels of anxiety, stress, exhaustion, chaos and trauma on a daily basis because of the high risk of drug-related death within their family.

Our intensive support includes a safe space for people to talk, education on drugs and their effects, access to lifesaving naloxone through our online Click and Deliver service, and peer support including a virtual group for families to feel less alone.

Family members who are being supported by the service have kindly shared their stories. Rose and Abbie’s [names changed] stories show the intense and unrelenting pressure on families due to ongoing service gaps and failures, especially where there are complex drug and mental health problems.

They also show how support for family members in their own right can help reduce harm and risk for everyone.

Rosie’s story

Rose was looking for support with her son’s addiction to heroin, cocaine, crack, ‘street valium’ and methadone. He was being released from prison and there was concern about relapse. Her son did relapse, but Rose was able to give him naloxone after she noticed the signs of overdose – he survived.

Through SFAD’s support, Rose has returned to work after time off due to stress and is more able to look after herself and put boundaries in place for her son. Her son is now in contact with treatment services.

Abbie’s story

Abbie was looking for support with her son’s addiction to ‘street valium’, cocaine, acid and alcohol. He has mental health problems and can be violent and aggressive. He has been in treatment a few times, but never long enough to get well. Abbie has been supported to look after herself and to make a safety plan for when she does see her son, to make sure she is safe and can keep in touch with him. She was able to return to work after being off due to stress and has made changes in her life. Her son is still using substances and is unwell but cannot get support from services at the moment.

I felt powerless, I felt like I was drowning and suffocating in the hell of addiction. Holding On has shown me how to gain control and power over my own life and most importantly, they have given me the strength and courage to carry on. I would not be where I am today without their support.’

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, helpline@sfad.org.uk or use the webchat on our website www.sfad.org.uk.