Scottish Families & Edinburgh University Research Launch Event – 12 November 2015

On 12th November 2015 Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families) will host an event in the Scottish Parliament, sponsored by John Mason MSP, to present the findings and recommendations of a recently commissioned research study in collaboration with University of Edinburgh:  Exploring the impact and harms on families of those experiencing substance misuse: anxiety, depression and mental wellbeing This work was carried out as a direct result of the findings from the Independent Expert Review of Opioid Replacement Therapies (ORT) in Scotland, published in 2013 and Scottish Families provided the opportunity for the review to engage with families and hear their concerns.

Scottish Families is a national organisation commissioned by the Scottish Government to deliver for families in relation to the national drug and alcohol strategies: The Road to Recovery and Changing Scotland’s Relationship with Alcohol. Scottish Families provides direct support across Scotland with family support groups, bereavement counselling and a Telehealth programme to support families in remote and rural locations alongside raising awareness and providing expert advice and guidance nationally.

Scottish Families has anecdotal evidence from family members which suggest that living with a loved one’s substance use negatively impacts on almost all aspects of their lives. This research is the first step towards a fuller understanding of the impact on health and wellbeing of individuals supporting a loved one. Christine Duncan, CEO of SFAD said ‘this collaboration with the University of Edinburgh underpins what families have been telling us for many years’.

Overall this study was a small scoping study with a small sample and therefore the results must be considered within this context. Nevertheless, significant relationships were found with regards some of the data. Key Findings: The average mental wellbeing scores were significantly lower than the average of the general Scottish population, suggesting lower mental wellbeing on average for respondents. 65% of respondents showed scores of 11+ on the anxiety scale which falls into the moderate to severe category with only 20% reporting scores falling within normal or no anxiety category. Over 50% of respondents had scores on the depression scale which fell into the moderate to severe category. Depression scores were significantly lower for those employed compared to all other groups. This may suggest that employment itself acts as a buffer and network of informal support to families.

The recommendations emerging from this piece of research provides a crucial a starting point for the development of robust actions that will help ensure that there is vital recognition and support for families within communities and workplace  to reduce harm and improve overall health and wellbeing for those affected.

Dr Aisha Holloway said: “The research has clearly identified that families of those affected by drug addiction need more support. They should be included from the start of the assessment and support process and be automatically referred to family support services. Families also need wider support in the workplace to help sustain employment.”

The research findings will be disseminated early next year. For further information contact Scottish Families CEO Christine Duncan: christine@sfad.org.uk

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