Scott, Family Development Manager
I started at Addaction in 2007, initially working with people who'd come into treatment through the Criminal Justice System, and those who had a problem with alcohol. Since then, I've seen how a large number of Addaction's service users have real problems at 'home' and how these family problems are often a major cause of their substance misuse.
I now work as one of Addaction's Family Development Managers, and my job's to improve the quality of treatment available to parents and other family members. It's interesting, challenging and often difficult - but it's completely rewarding too.
It can be hard to broach the subject of family, as it's something most people are – quite understandably – defensive about. It's also common to have a fear of social services, or of any kind of 'help', as people think their children will automatically be taken away from them if they admit to a drug or alcohol problem. So, the problems go unchecked - and people don't engage with the help that's there for them.
That's something you'll hear a lot about in drug treatment; the need for people to 'engage' with services. But the way I see it is that it's a two-way thing. Services need to engage with them, too. For example, we've been looking into how a lot of disadvantaged families aren't getting help from other places like their local GP, or their local children's centre, because they see these places as being more for 'middle class families' than for them.
So, as one part of my job, I've been working directly with the help people should be getting, but aren't, by researching and getting to grips with the barriers that stand in the way of someone's treatment. By doing that, Addaction can help treatment work better, get support to the families who really need it and help improve those families' lives.
It's not just other agencies that need to improve, though. Addaction does too. We've made a commitment for the whole organisation to be more family-focused. I've been helping train all Addaction staff; making sure that we always look at the family situations of our service users, helping rebuild broken relationships with mums, dads, siblings and children. We're making sure that those family members get the help and support they need too.
What keeps me going is that, over the years, I've seen so many people make so much progress. As I said before, it's not always easy – especially when such important work is having to get by on so little funding; but the reward at seeing people do well, and reaching potential they didn't know they had, really makes up for it. I do all of that alongside the most committed staff you could probably get.