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Families feel the pain of drug abuse

I’m not saying that when ER finished it left a hole in my life, but it did leave a gap in my self-imposed quota of only watching one TV series at a time (Channel 4 News does not count). But with perfect timing, BBC started showing the The Wire – a US drama focusing on the Baltimore police and drugs industry. A theme of the third series that finished last night was the terrible costs to communities and society at large caused by drugs. What goes without focus is the cost to the families of drug users. Indeed, you would think that drug users didn’t have any families – not just cases of immaculate conceptions but babies created out of thin air.

Carers in general are often under-recognised but none are more so than carers of people abusing drugs who are often unable to access the same rights and support that other carers can (see my earlier blog on the Equalities Bill). Yet there are nearly 200,000 carers of people abusing substances. It would be folly to remain ignorant of what these carers sacrifice. Thankfully, the UK Drugs Policy Commission is aiming to shed light on these sacrifices and have commissioned research which estimates the total costs that families bear when caring for a drug user – giving up work, higher living costs, having possessions stolen. The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is involved in advising this research and I’ve seen the final figures but have to remain tightlipped until they are published.

The research has brought home to me that is not an ethereal society that bears the brunt of drug use but rather mums, dads, brothers, sisters and even sons and daughters. They are often the forgotten victims amidst this conflict between drugs and society and as a result receive little support when I would bet that research would show that family support has a big influence on drug users going through ‘cold turkey’ successfully. I seem to remember that is was exactly this family support that saved Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting.

When problems appear so big and systemic as the drugs one can, we often forget that solutions can actually be found at the individual or family level. People can beat the system; support families to help drug users and you may find that more people can get out of ‘The Game’.

Take Care
Gordon

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July 21, 2009 - Posted by | Equality Bill, Substance Misuse | , ,

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