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Making it Happen

Support for families and carers affected by someone else's drug or alcohol use...

This document provides guidance for commissioners on how to ensure the needs of families affected by drugs and alcohol are met, and builds on the
‘Why Invest’ resource produced by Adfam in 2015 which makes the case for investment in family support. Some of the headlines are repeated at the beginning of this guide but readers are encouraged to access Why Invest for further details.

This guidance focuses on the provision of services for adult family members. Services for children affected by drug or alcohol use deserve a separate focus and will be considered outside this guidance.

Unlike with drug and alcohol treatment and the provision of support for general carers services, there are no clear national protocols for this group. Nevertheless, commissioning effective support for these family members helps to achieve a range of priority outcomes across health, social care, and broader community and wellbeing agendas. These are ‘mapped’ on page 9.

We know that there is currently extreme diversity in the level and quality of services in place for those affected by someone else’s substance misuse. Some local authorities fund well-established dedicated services for this group, in some areas there is no provision at all, and in most the reality is somewhere in between. That is why this guide includes an assessment framework to help you identify where you are fulfilling best practice guidance and where there are gaps. Adfam can also support you with local assessment and mapping if you choose. See or email for further details.

All of the recommendations in this guide have been informed by extensive engagement with carers themselves and with those experienced in supporting them. Adfam’s regional forums around the country, and the networks they support, give us regular opportunities to hear from the grassroots. Whilst regions vary, and local areas must engage at a local level to ensure appropriate adaptation to the local context and to co-produce with local stakeholders, the need for the essential provision outlined here remains constant. With increased localism comes increased opportunity to ensure services are really tailored to the needs in your local area, but also increased risk that each local area must ‘reinvent the wheel’. This guide exists to mitigate that risk; so you can use Adfam’s 30 years’ experience in family support and best practice experience from across the country to develop what will work best in your area without ‘reinventing the wheel’.

This guide is aimed at commissioners and those in commissioning teams who may be responsible for tender design and monitoring. It may also be of use to those seeking to implement or improve service provision.