Claire Wadsworth Family Support Development Officer, East Dunbartonshire
I am without doubt the dinosaur of Scottish Families; I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been on ‘Twitter’ or ‘Facebook’, even my 93-year-old granny puts me to shame as she taps away effortlessly on her iPad (her favourite 90th birthday present!)
So you can imagine my dismay when I was asked to write a ‘blog’…a what?! I immediately asked my best friend, ‘Google’, for some tips. One of the first suggestions was, ‘keep it short’ (I can do that) the second one was ‘don’t waffle’ (that one, I struggle with!) but I’m going to give it my best shot. I‘m sorry you’re my guinea pig but thanks for sticking with it this far, it can only get better (surely?!).
The purpose of my blog, I was told, was to explain to the reader what my job as a Family Support Development Officer entails. Now that is tricky because no two days are the same. However, pretty much every day I am thankful to have such a rewarding job where I am lucky enough to work with some amazing people who sometimes just need a little bit of extra support to help them through a difficult time.
There are several different ways that support can be given. It might just be some signposting to another service, inviting a family member to join our support group or some one-to-one advice and information. Usually, I’ll meet a ‘new’ family member for a coffee and explain the different support options available to them. Isolation and stigma often go hand in hand with family members who have a loved one misusing alcohol or drugs. Support groups go a long way in overcoming both these issues however I know going to one can be a daunting thought. Who wants to walk into a group of strangers and start pouring their hearts out?
There is absolutely no pressure to speak at these groups, all that matters is that you feel comfortable being there. Often people agree to come along to a group on the condition they don’t have to speak, which of course they don’t. However, invariably after listening to other people and feeling the honesty and trust in the room, they feel able to talk about their situation. It’s lovely to see the weight lifting off people’s shoulders when they realise they are not alone in experiencing the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with loving someone misusing drugs or alcohol.
If I could offer one piece of advice to any family member reading this, it would be please find out if there are any family support groups in your area or phone our helpline and talk to someone.
I’m aware that I’m in danger of ignoring both of the blog tips I mentioned at the start of this piece but if I stop now I might just manage one!