This lockdown is incredibly hard for the 5 million people dealing with a loved one’s drug or alcohol abuse, warns the national charity Adfam.
The charity is calling for a “national conversation” to wake the world up to the impacts of drug and alcohol abuse during the pandemic.
85% of adults coping with a loved one’s alcohol or drug problem said the first lockdown made a bad situation worse, according to an Adfam survey, Families in Lockdown.
Nearly half (42%) of those surveyed said that their loved one’s alcohol or drug use increased during the first lockdown. The impact on family members of the first lockdown included: feeling more anxious or stressed (50%), suffering more verbal abuse than usual from their family member (29%) and feeling more concerned than usual for their own safety (13%).
Children with parents who abuse drugs and alcohol are being hit especially hard. Many are missing the usual support that other family members and the school environment offers, the charity warns.
The stigma surrounding family members coping with a loved one’s drug or alcohol problem means that many are afraid to speak openly about the problem or seek help.
Vivienne Evans OBE, Chief Executive, Adfam, said:
“Lockdown is like a tinderbox for families dealing with a loved one’s alcohol or drug problem. When you are already isolated, stressed or fearful, our research shows that lockdown takes an even bigger toll on you.
“A staggering 1 in 10 of us are coping with a loved one’s drug or alcohol problem. Yet their needs are often forgotten when we talk about the impact of the pandemic, because the problem is so hidden.
“With more support available from charities online during this lockdown, it is vital that people seek help when they need it.
"We want to say to people – you deserve help and support as much as the person with the substance issue. Please don’t feel you have to suffer in silence.”
Adfam has launched a fundraising appeal #Forgotton5million to increase the support that it can offer online. Details, and help for families, are at: adfam.org.uk
Quotes, from family members Adfam is in contact with, also show the impact of lockdown when coping with a love one's drug or alcohol problem:
- “The lockdown has been horrific, the only way I can describe it is that it is like being held hostage in your own home. I wake up nervous of what his mood is going to be like…usually moody and yelling at the dog and me.”
- “Lockdown has been horrible. A nightmare. The system needs to change… people can’t get the help quick enough. It’s been horrendous getting support.”
- “It’s affecting me and my children more than usual - we have nowhere to go to get away from the negativity apart from daily exercise. We are also not making the most of the lockdown experience, we could be having fun, spending quality time as a family but the daily cycle is always the same and revolves around my husband’s cocaine use and moods.”
- “My son has alcohol problems, depression, anxiety and is physically unwell as a result of not eating properly or looking after himself. He lives alone and is very isolated.”