Family Drug Help
Family Drug Help (FDH) provides a specialist service to support family members and friends who are concerned about a loved one’s alcohol and other drug use. Family Drug Help aims to strengthen clients’ physical and mental health and their ability to cope with a very difficult situation.
Family Drug Help (FDH) is a service designed specifically to address the support and information needs of parents, other family members and significant others of someone with problematic alcohol or other drug use. People with personal experience of the effects of alcohol or other drug use within their family or friendship group are involved at all levels of the service.
Family Drug Help’s mission is to provide peer support and access to reliable information about alcohol and other drugs as well as available treatment options. FDH aims to reduce the alcohol and drug related harm experienced by families and friends of a person misusing these substances and to strengthen families in their support of that person.
Specifically, Family Drug Help aims to:
- Recognise that support and information can provide ongoing help and hope to concerned families and friends.
- Empower families and friends to reduce alcohol and drug-related harm to themselves and the person using alcohol or other drugs through a process of mutual support and self-help.
- Reduce the isolation and stigma often associated with a family members misuse of alcohol or other drugs by bringing families in contact with others who share these experiences.
- Provide non-judgemental, empathic support, as well as accurate information on alcohol and other drugs and current available treatment options.
Family Drug Help delivers a variety of services, including:
- Family Drug Helpline – a state-wide 24 hour helpline available for immediate and ongoing support
- Action for Recovery Course (ARC) – a six week family education course to learn skills and strategies in coping with a loved one’s addiction
- Support Groups – available across Victoria where family and friends can gain support, educational resources and share their experiences with others
- Family Counselling – provides a supportive environment to help families develop their relationship by building upon their skills and strengths
- BreakThrough – ice education for families and the community
- Siblings Support – interactive online support and information.
Interview of the story of how Family Drug Help came to be
Family Drug Help (FDH) was established in the year 2000 with the financial support of the Department of Human Services. Drawing together the skills, passion, and expertise of three existing organisations – Parents for Drug Information and Support (PDIS), the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC), and Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre – FDH was the innovation of three passionate and committed individuals; Brenda Irwin, Gordon Storey, and Margaret Hamilton. The FDH program is a flagship for the SHARC model of care and continues to represent the efficacy of the self-help paradigm for families and individuals affected by drug use.
After the death of her daughter to a heroin overdose in 1996 Brenda Irwin went searching for information about drug use and its effects. Inspired by a radio piece in which she heard Dr. Alex Wodak, the then head of Drug and Alcohol Services at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney interviewed, Brenda Irwin became passionate about fighting stigma, and resourcing and supporting parents of drug users. Brenda Irwin made contact with Dr.Wodak who in turn connected her with other families engaged in law-reform and advocacy. Through these networks Brenda Irwin received an invitation to speak, alongside two other parents, about her experience at a public forum in the Melbourne Town Hall, under the auspices of then Lord Mayor, Cr. Ivan Deveson, which led to her joining drug and alcohol working groups with both the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Yarra City Council. Around the same time Brenda Irwin established Parents for Drug Information and Support, holding the first group meeting in 1998 at North Yarra Community Health Centre, with local GP Dr.David Jacka as keynote speaker and supporter. Parents for Drug Information and Support grew rapidly and by the end of their first year of operation, PDIS facilitated a forum attended by one hundred and fifty people. Professor Margaret Hamilton, fellow co-founder of FDH and then director of Turning Point Drug and Alcohol Services, was an invited speaker at this forum.
After more than thirty years as a social worker Margaret Hamilton was acutely aware of the inadequate engagement with families in the drug and alcohol service system. Attempts to integrate family focus into the Turning Point model, which had not borne fruit in part due to financial constraints, meant Margaret Hamilton was keen to support alternate initiatives that put family participation on the treatment agenda. Margaret Hamilton’s clinical experience had repeatedly shown that family engagement was a crucial component in effective treatment, and that mutual support groups could be highly beneficial for people dealing with drug and alcohol issues. To this end, Margaret Hamilton began to support Brenda Irwin’s organisation through the provision of group facilitator training for PDIS members, which was co-delivered by Brenda Irwin and staff from Turning Point.
Brenda Irwin’s advocacy efforts had increased by this time and, through a series of meetings with DHS, she began lobbying for the establishment of a dedicated peer support phone line for families affected by the drug use of a loved one. Around this time Brenda Irwin came into contact with Gordon Storey – the third founding member of FDH – who was also consulting on one of the DHS working groups. Gordon Storey was then CEO of SHARC, the organisation that would later become the lead agency in developing and managing FDH. Michelle Keenan, the Turning Point Staff member who had been assisting at the PDIS meetings and a former colleague of Gordon Storey’s, formally introduced him and Brenda Irwin shortly afterwards. Alongside a host of other invited professionals, Gordon Storey attended and spoke at several PDIS meetings during this time. With the emergence of evidence on the efficacy of family inclusive practice in the late 1990s, the gap in service provision for families affected by the drug use of a loved one was identified and prioritised. The Department of Human services allocated funds for the development of a targeted family service and put the job out to tender. Brenda Irwin, Margaret Hamilton, and Gordon Storey saw this as an opportunity to formalise and develop a specific service for families within the context of the existing service system. Based on the provision of accurate information, the philosophy of self-help and mutual support that underpinned the flourishing SHARC organisation, and a commitment to meeting callers where they were in their respective processes, the three formed a consortium that tendered for the service delivery contract, under the fiscal and philosophical direction of SHARC.
The three organisations provided the perfect mix of professional and experiential expertise, coupled with the infrastructure and passion required to establish the service being called for. In late 2000 the consortium was named as the preferred provider and Family Drug Help was established as an integrated program area of the SHARC service. Drawing on the technical and organisational support of Turning Point, the inspiration, energy and passion of family members, and the conceptual narrative of self-help underpinning SHARC, the PDIS group established by Brenda Irwin developed into a state-wide Victorian service consisting of a resource centre/knowledge dissemination service, a telephone helpline, and facilitated mutual support groups for families and friends of people with drug problems.
Family Drug Help began operating as an integrated program of the SHARC service, co-located at the Glenhuntly Road site. Staffed by a mix of peer volunteers and paid staff, and supported by a Steering Committee of people with both professional and experiential expertise, FDH operations were managed by Gordon Storey with the support of Brenda Irwin and others. Importantly, the Steering Committee played a pivotal role in the development of the ethos, spirit and role modelling that has come to define FDH. Margaret Hamilton facilitated technical support from Turning Point, specifically in the provision of after hours care via Direct Line for the FDH helpline, and acted as a consultant on organisational issues. The new program was promoted widely amongst Victorian alcohol and drug agencies, with referrals coming from inside the existing service system and via word of mouth. Whilst there was a significant amount of verbal support initially, the referrals from existing agencies were less than had been anticipated. Despite this fact the initiative stabilised and became a program in its own right on the strength of the founding members’ passions and the strong structural foundations, under the auspices of SHARC. Operating from a base of self-help philosophy coupled with a commitment to provide accurate information the service flourished as trained family volunteers on the helpline made the shift from helpee to helper. Volunteers began to experience their own empowerment whilst concurrently modelling this to helpline callers. Family Drug Help continues to operate as a vital service and source of empowerment for families and friends of loved ones affected by drugs and alcohol.
Interview conduced by Suzi Hayes for SHARC with Margaret Hamilton, Brenda Irwin and Gordon Storey
Price per Unit (piece) $1.50
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Price per Unit (piece) $1.50
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Family Drug Help
(Please note this form is for general enquiries/feedback only. If you are applying for a student placement or a volunteer please use the relevant forms in the ”About Us’ section on the SHARC home page.)
Address: 140 Grange Road, Carnegie, 3163 Phone: 1300 660 068 Email: FDH@sharc.org.au
Action for Recovery Course (ARC)
Do you feel like you are going around in circles? Does the same thing keep happening over and over? The chances are you have a loved one with an addiction. The ARC program will suit you.
Family Drug Help’s Action for Recovery Course (ARC) is run over six weeks (two hours per week) and is for those impacted by a loved one’s drug and /or alcohol use. It’s designed to educate family and friends in how to best cope with a family member’s addiction.
Topics such as boundaries, the stages of change, guilt, worry and communication are all discussed. Strategies for reducing conflict and improving communication are taught. This course makes an enormous difference in our relationship with our loved ones with substance addiction.
“I have learned and felt so much better about myself since doing your course; it’s given me confidence to work on my relationships.”
All course run from 6pm – 7.45pm. Courses run for six weeks. (two hours per week)
New courses for 2017:
Coburg: Wednesday 1st Feb – 8th March
Carnegie: Tuesday 31st January – 7th March
Carnegie: Tuesday 14th March – 18th April
Sunbury: Monday 30th January – 6th March
Coburg: Wednesday 29th March – 3rd May
Bookings essential, please contact 1300 660 068
ARC Payment (for Carnegie groups only)
Registration Price: (for refreshments and workbooks)
1 person: $60
2 people: $100
3 people: $150
Need an account?
Family Drug Help delivers fee-for-service Community Forums throughout Victoria. Family Drug Help has developed expertise, networks, promotional channels and resources to facilitate these successful events. Previous forums have had great attendance and received positive feedback from the local communities….
‘The young person in recovery was great. His story about how he changed his life and found hope, direction and purpose was inspirational.’
‘An eye opener for families to know there is real help.’
‘It was great to hear from a family member about living with addiction in her family and how she coped.’
Family Drug Help Community Forums have been well supported by local agencies, such as Victoria Police Clandestine Laboratory squad, Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team, Addiction Specialists, Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, Carers Australia and On the Line. Family members with lived experience and young people in recovery have also provided compelling personal accounts of how addiction has impacted their lives and the hope for recovery.
In excess of 2,500 people have attended Family Drug Help Community Forums in metropolitan and regional areas throughout Victoria. Each forum has been tailored to address a specific need within the local community. The Community Forum fee includes venue hire, light supper, MC and guest speakers, media liaison and publicity, promotional material and local agency trade tables.
To enquire further about a Community Forum or to obtain a quote please complete the below form or contact Family Drug Help at email@example.com or T: 9573 1761.
Where can you go to learn strategies to cope, gain support and be amongst people who understand?
The strain of living with someone else’s problem behaviour is more than most people can cope with alone. In a support group members are with others who have travelled a similar journey. Attending groups regularly can reduce feelings of fear, anxiety, depression, helplessness and shame by gaining support, information and ongoing education.
“Being unfamiliar with the process of networking and sourcing contacts (having never had experience with drug and mental health issues) it is overwhelming to say the least. I have gained enormous strength, support and knowledge from the support group meetings during the last 3 years, which has assisted me greatly.”
Family Drug Help Support Groups:
Please phone the helpline for exact dates and locations
1300 660 068
- Bacchus Marsh:
1st & 3rd Thursdays 7:30 – 9:30 pm
2 Bacchus St, Maddingly
- Ballarat: (Ballarat Community Health)
2nd & 4th Wednesdays of the month 1-3pm
Ballarat Community Health
12 Liliburn St, Lucas
- Balwyn: Eastern Consortium Alcohol and Drug Services (ECADS)
1st & 3rd Wednesday of the month, 7-9pm
Balwyn Community Centre
412 Whitehorse Rd, Surrey Hills
2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, 5:45 – 7:45 pm
140 Grange Rd, Carnegie.
- Clayton: Eastern Consortium Alcohol and Drug Services (ECADS)
3rd Tuesday of each month 6—7:45 pm
Link HC, Level 1, 9-15 Cooke St, Clayton.
- Coburg: North and West Metro Alcohol and Drug Service (ReGen and Odyssey House Victoria)
1st Wednesday of the month. 6-7:45 pm
Regen. 26 Jesse St, Coburg
2nd Thursday of the month, 7-9pm
Cohuna Neighbourhood House
1st & 3rd Wednesdays 6-8pm
Balla Balla Community Centre
65 Berwick Cranbourne Road, Cranbourne East
3rd Wednesday of the month 6-8pm
Banyule Community Health
25-23 Grimshaw street, Greensborough
- Mornington Peninsula:
every second Tuesday, 6–8pm
Meeting room 1, first floor
Frankston Integrated Health Service
2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month 6-8pm
SWAMP, Oswald street, Portland
- Ringwood: (EACH)
2nd & 4th Wednesdays. 6:30—8:30pm
46 Warrandyte Rd, Ringwood
- Supper Club – Grief and Bereavement club
(For family members who have lost a loved one as a result of substance use)
2nd Tuesday of the month 5.45pm -7.45pm
140 Grange Road, Carnegie
1st Monday of the month 6-8pm
Sunbury Community Health
12-28 Macedon street, Sunbury
- Sunshine: North and West Metro Alcohol and Drug Service (ReGen and Odyssey House Victoria)
2nd & 4th Tues. of the month, 7pm – 9pm
Duke St Community House, 27 Duke St, Sunshine
- Watsonia: North and West Metro Alcohol and Drug Service (ReGen and Odyssey House Victoria)
1st Monday of the month (except April & November – 2nd Monday), 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Watsonia Library. 4/6 Ibbottson St Watsonia
2nd & 4th Wednesday of the month, 7- 9pm
Warragul Uniting Church. 210 Sutton St, Warragul
Warnambool WRAD support Group
3rd Monday of each month 6—8pm
Archie Graham Centre.118-130 Timor St, Warrnambool
Contact Kim Williams 55645779
- Werribee: North and West Metro Alcohol and Drug Service (ReGen and Odyssey House Victoria)
2nd Thursday of the month 6-8pm
The Bungalow, Anglicare. 2 Market St, Werribee
Turning Point, SHARC and Bouverie Family Therapy Centre, are pleased to offer BreakThrough – Ice education for families. Facilitators from Turning Point and SHARC will be delivering a number of four hour education sessions to families who have been affected by ICE. Over the course of the workshop the following information will be discussed.
Topic 1 – The Facts
- Separate fact from fiction
- Types of drug use
- ICE and effects
- Withdrawal and recovery
- Stages of change.
Topic 2 – Family Strategies
- Responding to challenging behaviours
- Drug use and mental health
- Self-care for family members
- Outline a safety plan for all family members.
Topic 3 – Help Seeking
- Seeking support, assistance and professional help
- Barriers to seeking help and how to overcome them.
To register your interest in attending a workshop please click here or call Family Drug Helpline T:1300 660 068.
Families who are experiencing the affects of substance abuse can have difficulties in their relationships and feel isolated, stress and anxious. Sometimes the behaviour of the substance user becomes the focus of attention and other needs get pushed aside.
Family counselling can provide a supportive environment to help families change their relationship to the problems they are facing as well as building upon the skills and strengths the family possesses.
Family Drug Helpline
Phone 1300 660 068
24-hours, 7 days a week
Sometimes people may feel they need to talk to someone who knows what it’s like to love someone who’s misusing drugs or alcohol. Family Drug Helpline offers a confidential telephone service which provides support to family members in need. Our helpline is staffed by trained volunteers (9am to 5pm Monday – Friday), ordinary people who are just like you: mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, partners, sons, daughters and friends. After hours service is staffed by professional counsellors.
“Calling the Helpline was a huge step for me. Being heard and understood without being judged or shamed was so calming. My journey in helping myself deal with the problems in my family started that day.”
“Ringing the helpline grounds me”
Family Drug Help's Spring newsletter on Siblings 2016
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