What is a Family Charter
This Family Charter provides a guide to what families can expect from services at the Alexander Clinic.
Families will be actively included in a loved one’s treatment through:
• Being invited to participate in a loved one’s treatment and recovery plan from the outset where appropriate and with the consent of their loved one.
• Having their input and experiences heard and fully considered.
• Having access to relevant treatment information in a straightforward, easy to understand format.
• Having advice and signposting to services supporting families in their own right.
Families will have access to adequate and appropriate support services through:
• Being recognised as individuals with unique relationships to their loved ones and providing crucial recovery capital.
• Being given opportunities to discuss their own support needs and having options as to the type of support they feel most beneficial i.e. individual, group, couples counselling, peer.
• Having access to information and suitable resources on a loved one’s treatment and recovery journey.
• Having access to services which recognise their need to progress, recover and rebuild relationships and other aspects of their lives.
Why do we need a Charter?
Families and individual family members affected by another’s substance misuse, drugs and/or alcohol, have the same right to advice and support as everyone else. However, it is widely acknowledged that they, in addition to the impact of substance misuse, face the additional barriers of shame and stigma to accessing this support. The overall aim of this Family Charter is to increase support to families affected by substance misuse through the empowerment of families to ensure their rights are recognised and respected.
The Charter aims to build on the Clinic’s existing work and the growing recognition of not only the impact of substance misuse on families but the importance of their role in the recovery process. However, families have needs for services in their own right, not just to assist with achieving positive treatment outcomes for a loved one and where we can, we signpost to existing family support in addition to offering 1:1 sessions with Clinic therapists.
Recovery is a family journey and one way family members contribute to the journey is through dedicating themselves to learning as much information as possible to understand what their loved one is experiencing and how to reduce harm for the entire family. By explaining to our clients how their behaviours may have impacted their children through often inconsistent parenting, especially in relation to attachment, they can understand the importance of health attachments and how this then affects future learning and social interactions for their children.
When we speak about ‘families’, we consider anyone our client considers to be part of their immediate support system as ‘family’ and this often includes friends, neighbours and sometimes co-workers. Families can be key to engaging in treatment, treatment completion and support after discharge. Despite the overwhelming number of people who have a substance use disorder, the number of people who actually receive treatment and are able to sustain it continues to be much lower. Evidence shows that one of the most widely accepted means to reduce risk from a drug related death is to be in treatment. Any means to increase the number of clients accessing and remaining in treatment is welcome.
Family members often do not know how to relate to the individual with the substance use disorder. Our therapists work with family members to teach them the skills and language necessary to engage more successfully with their loved ones, their treatment and their recovery. Family sessions allow clients to share, through functional analysis, what leads to substance use episodes. By using positive reinforcement in periods when our clients are not using substances, this helps in the overall ability for the families to communicate effectively without resorting to former behaviours and language which often exacerbated situations. It is these skills that we teach the families that help maintain the engagement with our service and are helpful after discharge when relapse is possible as it is widely accepted that relapse, while not desired, is a very real part of the recovery journey.
Comments from clients and their families who have benefited from the Alexander Clinic’s Family Inclusive Practice:
“My Mum never told me any of this before. Hope I can be there for her now.”
“I was really worried about him coming home as I didn’t know what to say but I know now how better to communicate.”
“I hadn’t realised the effect I had had on them (family) but they know I am working hard on my abstinence and recovery.”
“I’m really looking forward to quality time with her now.”
None of us can make someone else do things differently or change. We can only change ourselves. If we want communications to go differently in a relationship, the best way is to change what we do! That is why finding new ways to communicate and creating a Family Charter really does help.
Christine Duncan MSW
The Alexander Clinic