The Family Angle: January 2018

Everything you need to know about families, drugs and alcohol.

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As it’s the first edition of the newsletter in 2018 we thought we’d start the year with a look forward to some exciting projects on the horizon.

We are looking for a dynamic person to join us and fight the good fight on behalf of families and young people in Newham, East London. This is a part time role – read about it online.
We are moving into the last quarter of our dual diagnosis project focused on the experiences of families. We will be publishing a report pulling together all the very rich data and moving human testimony by the end of March and will be looking to share the findings as widely as possible. Please drop me a line if you’d like to know more.
Building on our “Marks and Scars” (pdf) report from last year, which examined how family members are affected by their loved ones’ hepatitis C, we will be producing an accessible resource on the same topic for family members, and running four ‘roadshows’ around the country focused on how families can help to enable the health and wellbeing of loved ones with substance use issues. This work has been funded by Gilead Sciences.
Following the success of our “Like Sugar for Adults” (pdf) report with the Institute for Alcohol Studies, this year the Alcohol and Families Alliance will be developing a policy campaign to continue making the change for families affected by problematic drinking.
We’ll be working with the brilliant London Friend throughout 2018 to provide support to the partners and families of men struggling with issues around chemsex.  
Oh and we’ll soon have a new website!
Happy new year and all the best for 2018 from all at Adfam.

Director of Policy and Communications

Regional roundup

Over the last month we have
  • Launched a new project in Suffolk, working with Turning Point and Suffolk Family Carers to develop the family support on offer and train staff and peer mentors to build the capacity of existing provision.
  • Consulted with women and professionals on issues relating to substance use and domestic violence and abuse to inform our national project to reduce the risk to women experiencing domestic violence and abuse in households where there is drug or alcohol use.
  • Held Regional Forums in the North East (Hartlepool) and the West Midlands (Birmingham). Topics included working with kinship carers and ESH Works’s new peer led residential rehab in Warwickshire.
To find out more about Adfam's regional work please contact Becky Allon-Smith.

Parliamentary Roundup

Bambos Charalambous MP opened a debate in the House of Commons on the misuse of Xanax. He shared the story of a constituent whose teenage daughter had become a regular user of the drug. Steve Brine MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, responded.

Neil Gray MP asked the Secretary of State for Health what assessment his Department has made of the effect of minimum unit pricing of alcohol on social inequalities related to alcohol misuse. Steve Brine MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, responded that modelling by the University of Sheffield indicates that the impact of minimum unit price was shown to have a positive impact in closing the health inequalities gap.

Joan Ryan MP opened a Westminster Hall debate about 'county lines' exploitation in London, where vulnerable young people are exploited by gangs and forced to transport class A drugs. Will Quince MP recognised that very often families are impacted by county lines as well, in particular children whose parents use class A drugs.


Families affected by problem gambling survey - Adfam
Adfam is looking at the impact of problem gambling on families in the UK. We have set up this survey to understand the scale of the issue and what can be done to improve outcomes and support. This survey is for anyone that is or has been affected by a loved one's problem gambling in the UK. It should take around 5 minutes to complete and closes at 9am on 29 January 2018.

Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper - Department for Health and Social Care & Department for Education
The Government is asking for views on a green paper setting out measures to improve mental health support for children and young people. The paper focuses on earlier intervention and prevention, especially in schools and colleges. The proposals include: a new workforce of community-based mental health support teams, a designated mental health lead in every school and college and the piloting of a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services. This consultation closes at midday on 2 March 2018.
Call for evidence: National commission into women facing domestic and/or sexual violence and multiple disadvantage - AVA & Agenda
AVA and Agenda have set up a new national commission to look at the situation of women and girls facing domestic and/or sexual violence and multiple disadvantage. The commission is taking evidence from organisations who support women facing these issues, as well as from other stakeholders, for example service commissioners, academics, think tanks and government departments. It is open until 9 February 2018.


Public Involvement in Alcohol Research (pdf) -
Alcohol Research UK
This report highlights the importance and challenges of greater involvement of the public and people with lived experience within the alcohol research field. It identifies the next steps in how to take the agenda forward, including: using language that is accessible for all and not jargon, taking time to invest in building relationships, managing expectations, making it fit for the group of people you are working with and making it fun!
Health Survey for England 2016 - NHS
This annual survey monitors trends in the nation's health; estimating the proportion of people in England who have specified health conditions, and the prevalence of risk factors and behaviours associated with these conditions. Key findings from 2016 include: 31% of men and 16% of women usually drank at increased or higher risk of harm (i.e. more than 14 units of alcohol in a usual week).
The World Drug Problem: Countering prejudices about people who use drugs - Global Commission on Drugs Policy
This new international report focuses on how current perceptions of drugs and people who use them have led to an unrealistic and stigmatising, rather than pragmatic and evidence-based, approach to drug policy. The report analyses the most common perceptions and fears, contrasts them with available evidence and provides recommendations on changes that would lead to more effective drug policy.

The Brain Under Construction [2] – The effects of alcohol on the brain
This briefing paper is the second in a series produced by Mentor-ADEPIS about the ‘Brain Under Construction’. It sets out the effects alcohol has on the brain, and the science behind what happens when people consume alcohol. It is aimed at helping professionals to better understand the young people they support.

Under the spotlight: reviewing policy and crime plans for multiple and complex needs, and transition to adulthood (pdf) – Revolving Doors Agency
Revolving Doors Agency has published its analysis of the current and most recent Police and Crime Plans of the Police and Crime Commissioners. This reveals that substance misuse is recognised as a vulnerability in 88% of plans (down from 98% in the previous set of plans) but is listed as a priority in only 28% (down from 40% previously).

In Focus: State of the Sector 2017

Adfam, on behalf of the Recovery Partnership, launched State of the Sector 2017: Beyond the Tipping Point (pdf) in December last year.
It was the fourth in a series of reports written about the drug and alcohol treatment sector in England. Compared to previous years it took a more narrative approach, focusing primarily on interviewing key stakeholders and highlighting their experiences in the sector, current concerns and thoughts for the future. 23 detailed interviews underpinned its findings.
State of the Sector 2017 uncovered worrying signs that damage has already been done to the country’s treatment system and the capacity of the sector to respond to future cuts has been eroded. The expected further cuts by local authorities will further reduce this capacity. These findings echoing those contained in the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs’ powerful commissioning report published last autumn.
Other key findings include:
  • The potential of the sector to absorb funding cuts through efficiency savings has been exhausted. This report shows how the sector has adapted under stress. While service re-design and innovation are continuous in this sector as in any other, some of it using digital technologies, this has been made imperative by funding cuts. There is a sense of the scale of the cuts being challenging to manage, but also of them and other pressures having been used as an opportunity for reconfiguring services and innovating, both in re-commissioning services and through service re-design by providers.
  • Only central government intervention will protect the sector from further cuts. The report describes how existing funding mechanisms give no protection to drug and alcohol services, allowing funding to flow away from the sector, given that it is not a priority for all local decision makers. There is universal uncertainty about the impact of local authorities being able to retain business rates collected.
  • Service models must continue to evolve. Consolidation of contracts into larger, integrated contracts seems to be becoming the norm. The integrated services with one prime contractor has become the archetype in the areas visited.
  • Commissioning capacity and practices remain of great interest and concern. There is concern over the loss of specific substance misuse knowledge in commissioning teams, which makes it difficult for them to incorporate emerging evidence, good practice and delivery models into contract specifications. This results mainly from increased staff turnover and the location of commissioners in teams with much wider responsibilities.
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