Support for families

SUPPORT: Family Drug Support will soon hold an education session for those supporting someone using alcohol and other drugs. Picture: SUPPLIED.

Melanie Riley

FAMILY Drug Support is soon holding an education session, plus Q&A for families and friends who are supporting someone using alcohol and other drugs.

The non-for-profit is funded by SA Health through Drug and Alcohol Services SA (DASSA) and offers evidence-based support and information to families and carers who are supporting a loved one with drug and alcohol issues.

Family Drug Support were given funding in 2022 to expand all services and better cater to the the state’s regions.

The family support sessions have been successful in the city, and with a focus on bringing it to regional areas, it has also been successful in Port Augusta.

Family support worker Jan Maguire was pleased to be able to bring the information session to the Limestone Coast.

“There’s a need everywhere, but the reality is, regional areas have less support so of course there is more need for this,” she said.

“There’s probably more stigma in the regional areas, which makes it harder to get people to access these services, even if they are available.

“It’s something that gets treated as a moral issue, rather than a health issue.”

Ms Maguire spoke about the importance of language around alcohol and drug use, and said there is encouragement to reframe language, which can shift perception and reduce stigma.

“At the moment, rather than saying ‘user’ or ‘addict’ or ‘junkie,’ we use words like ‘person using a substance,’” she said.

“We don’t use the word ‘clean,’ because does that imply that they’re ‘dirty’ when they’re using?

“Or what about the person who reduces their use and is managing it, but is still using occasionally, are they dirty?

“It really shifts perception, and if families can change their language, it actually changes the way they can feel about it too.”

The upcoming information session will outline the support Family Drug Support can give, but the main topic of the session will be ‘effective communication.’

“What works, what doesn’t work – those communication strategies that make a difference,” Ms Maguire said.

“How to talk to someone using substances without inducing that feeling of guilt or shame.

“It will also include a Q&A session to try and really get people talking.

“It will be a good opportunity for people to get a feeling of how we let them say what they want to say – it’s a safe space.”

She hoped the information session would be the beginning of the establishment of an ongoing Family Support Group in Mount Gambier/Berrin in the coming months.

The Family Support Group will aim to support those supporting their loved ones through substance use, and help further reduce the stigma around the topic.

“Stigma and the attitudes that we as a society have developed means we’ve been taught we must use tough love, which is an unhelpful concept,” Ms Maguire said.

“We don’t give advice, we help people figure out what they want to do.

“We do give information and we really actively listen.”

The information session will be held at TAFE SA, Room 4.G.13 on Tuesday, May 21 from 5.30pm-8.30pm.

The session is free, but reservations are required.

Please visit to reserve a spot.