The Family Recovery College

The Family Recovery College offers a free informal 12-week course, Understanding Substance Use and Holding on to Hope, for anyone living in Scotland who is concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We will support you to build knowledge, skills, and confidence to support yourself and your loved one.

Our Spring 2024 course is now open for expressions of interest. The Spring 2024 course will take place online every Tuesday between 7pm and 9pm, starting on Tuesday 12th March 2024 and finishing on Tuesday 28th May 2024. You can fill out an expression of interest form here.

You can also contact either Debra Nelson: 07379830357/ or Tich Watson: 07775252380/ for more information.


Anyone who is affected by another person’s drug or alcohol use is warmly welcomed – that includes biological and non-biological families, BAME families, LGBT+ people and families, families with or without children, friends, partners, siblings, young people, older people, foster carers, kinship carers, neighbours, work colleagues, etc.

If you are a professional working in this field and interested in this course please contact Susie McClue as we are developing a parallel opportunity for you.

This course will be delivered online using Zoom so that as many people can join us regardless of location. We will do our best to ensure everyone can get online whatever their circumstance may be.

We hope to make the Family Recovery College accessible to all.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if there is anything additional we can do to make you feel welcomed and included.

What is the Family Recovery College?

The Family Recovery College offers a free informal 12-week online course, Understanding Substance Use and Holding on to Hope, for anyone living in Scotland concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We will support you to build knowledge, skills, and confidence to support yourself and your loved one.

Students on the course will:

  • Increase their positive connection with others
  • Develop communication strategies to improve relationships
  • Improve self-care and emotional wellbeing
  • Improve understanding of substance use through new knowledge and skills
  • Feel empowered to influence change in their lives and the lives of their loved one

We developed this course in the spring/summer of 2019 with a group of family members who have their own lived experience of supporting a loved one with problematic drug/alcohol use. Our course advisors worked with us to design, deliver and evaluate the project to ensure that it was helpful and relevant to student’s needs.

‘Thought it was going to be more formal but it’s been very relaxed and I’ve not been afraid to ask about anything.’  – Student on the 2019 course
“I could see a really big change in some of the students from the beginning of the course to the end. The students that didn’t really speak or needed encouragement in participating at the start were engaging and smiling at the end of the course. Some memories for me came up about how I used to feel the way the students did at the recovery college. I empathised with them and it showed me personally how far I have come in my journey of recovery in being affected by someone else’s addiction. I’m glad I can help support causes such as the recovery college and my own support group to help people in this time of their life. So, I felt a bit sad if had come to an end but really happy that it had a positive effect on the students.”  – Course Advisor for the 2019 course

Why the Family Recovery College is Important

Family members and friends often take on the primary role of caring for or supporting their loved ones. Due to the secrecy, shame and stigma of supporting a loved one with an alcohol/drug problem, often there is little acknowledgement or support for those doing the supporting. Many people find themselves experiencing long-term mental health and physical health conditions, often related to the challenges and stress of their caring role. We hope that the Family Recovery College will help students feel empowered to support themselves and their loved ones.

“Gave you food for thought and able to look at things differently”
“I feel that I have benefitted from the recovery aspect and I am now more able to identify my priorities regarding self-care.”  – Students on the 2019 course

What will the course cover?

The course will cover the most up-to-date information and knowledge of drug and alcohol use. We will hear from family and friends who have lived/living experiences. We will run a series of sessions on positive communication based on the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) principles. We will spend time thinking about our self-care and well-being. We will discuss stigma and think about what it means for us, our loved ones and our community.

Our Anti-Discrimination Statement 

The Family Recovery College (FRC) is opposed to discrimination in all its forms, including on the basis of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, class, appearance, national origin, cultural background, ethnicity or religion/belief.

The FRC believes that all course participants, staff, course advisors, speakers and workshop facilitators have the right to be treated with fairness and respect. We will not tolerate or condone discriminatory behaviour from anyone involved in the college.

We value the cultural and social diversity of the FRC and believe that this diversity is an asset to the college.

I want to join the course!

To find out more information on when a course is starting and how to join, contact either:

Debra Nelson: 07379 830357  or

Tich Watson: 07775 252380 or 

The programme is certificated by Scottish Families as the Scottish Government’s Nationally Commissioned Organisation (NCO) for families affected by addiction. 

Developing the Family Recovery College Values 

Imagining and designing the FRC was where we began, and our course advisors discussed values and ideas from their own experiences that communicated their hopes for FRC students:   

self-care, resilience, safety, the wellbeing of students, financial support, ‘we will support you’, building your strength, self-worth, hospitable, it’s not the family member or significant others fault/responsibility, no guilt or shame, hopeful, empathetic, ‘get GP’s on board, ‘education is key’ confidentiality, inclusivity, non-judgemental, helpful, ‘understanding hopes and fears’, funded treatment for every family member, respect, positive, ‘I have choices’, welcoming, ‘normalise family support (stigma)’, supportive, educational, open and frank discussion, ‘get the police involved’, ‘I want them to have joy’. 

And from these course advisors chose five core values: 

Education: to enable people to separate their loved ones from alcohol and/or drug use. 

Inclusion: all people who are affected by someone else’s drug/alcohol use are welcome. We recognise that not everyone has the same story.  

Hope and Positivity: we want students to leave the course with a sense of hope. 

Confidentiality: Participation and information shared will remain private and confidential. 

Non-Judgemental: the FRC is a safe and supportive environment that will challenge the stigma placed on people who use drugs and those that care about them. 

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