Supporting loved ones with alcohol, drug or gambling problems during 'lockdown'

Man drinking pint, image blurred to represent being drunk

04 July 2020

Adfam have launched a new report, Families in Lockdown: The effects of the COVID-19 lockdown on the family and friends of someone with an alcohol, drug or gambling problem .

Adfam is a national charity working to improve life for families affected by drugs or alcohol. In April 2020 they carried our an online survey completed by 241 people who are coping with a friend or family member’s alcohol, drug or gambling problem during the Covid-19 lockdown,(now being eased). The survey sought to understand how some of their usual daily challenges associated with addiction- fear, domestic abuse, isolation, loneliness and mental stress – might be being further exacerbated by COVID-19 and the lockdown measures imposed from March 2020. The survey also asked family members and friends about what kind of support they would benefit from going forwards.

Key findings:
  • 88% of respondents said their loved one’s drug alcohol or gambling problem had been negatively impacted by lockdown
  • 85% of respondents said the lockdown is making it harder for them to cope with their loved one’s drug, alcohol or gambling problem
  • Lockdown is having a negative impact on the mental health of both the friends and family (50%) and of their loved one with a drug, alcohol or gambling problem (61%).
  • Nearly a third (28%) of respondents are experiencing an increase in verbal abuse from their family member and 13% feel more concerned than usual for their safety.
  • 78% said additional support would help them to cope- including the opportunity to talk to a trainer counsellor online (47%), the opportunity to talk to others facing similar problems via an online forum (38%) and a telephone helpline (30%).

The responses from the survey are not necessarily surprising with many carers reporting in a range of surveys that they have been struggling in 'lockdown' for a wide range of reasons. The pandemic has also seen an increase in the number of people providing unpaid care to loved ones coupled with deterioration of people's mental wellbeing. 

Accessing support:

It is so important to reach out and access help when you need it for yourself and for your loved one. Supporting a loved one who has a drug or alcohol addiction is extremely challenging. Your life will involve both supporting the person you care for, but additionally feeling the broader damaging effects of their addiction on yourself and the rest of your family. The impact is likely to be practical, financial and emotional. On top of this many people feel uncomfortable and find taking the first steps to accessing support challenging due to the stigma associated with drug and alcohol addiction. There are services specifically designed to support you, such as Adfam. They are non judgemental and they have seen and heard it all before; you really do have nothing to be worried about. 

Your health and wellbeing is just as important as the health and wellbeing of the loved one you are caring for and supporting.

Don't delay, reach out today:
  • Explore our website for information that can support you as well as identifying a range of local support services. 
  • Get in touch with Recovery Connections. Recovery Connections offers help for people with drug or alcohol issues and their carers and family members.
  • Contact Branches. They are a peer led support group who provide opportunity for you to talk to others who are, or have experienced feelings similar to your own in supporting somebody with drug or alcohol dependency. Due to Covid- 19 the team are offering telephone support instead of group meetings: 

    Monday - Thursday 9am to 3pm
    07934104283
    07742090608                                                                                                                                Tuesday 4.30pm to 6.30pm
    07938676579

  • Al-Anon – provides support to anyone whose life is, or has been, affected by someone else’s drinking. Meetings held in the North East. Tel: 020 7403 0888
  • Adfam – providing direct support to families through publications, training and outreach work. Tel: 020 7553 7640  
  • Carers Together – provides information and support to all carers in Middlesbrough. Tel: 01642 488977