Skip to main content

State of the Sector: Drug and alcohol family support: Executive summary

The past few years have seen a huge amount of change in our field. We’ve seen the drug and alcohol treatment system fragment and reform, shaped by dramatically reduced budgets and a localism agenda pushing more power to the local level. We’ve seen a Care Act come into force in 2015 which created new rules and regulations for both carers and the loved ones they care for – and placed a new duty on local authorities to take a proactive approach to identify those in need of support. We’ve seen a year on year reduction in government grant funding of the voluntary sector. We’ve seen significant changes to the way family support services are commissioned and funded. And we’ve seen changes in the way people use drugs and alcohol – and the consequent harms they, and their families, experience.

In some ways the recognition of the necessity of support for families affected by substance use has never been greater. Some component of family support is routinely stated in commissioning specifications for providers. In other ways support for families is under threat; some community support groups which have been running for years have closed doors due to lack of funding or been absorbed into much larger organisations providing treatment for substance users, sometimes as part of a wider health and wellbeing remit.

We wanted to hear from the sector about what’s really going on. So we have run two surveys over the past two years to find this out. In Autumn last year we captured the experiences of managers of family support services via an online survey and spoke in detail to service managers and a Chief Executive to examine the state of the family support sector. The year before we ran a similar survey. This report provides an overview of the findings from both surveys; you can read more about the methodologies towards the end of this overview.