A vital step forward

Deb And Jordan 002

DRUGS and alcohol can destroy families but it does not have to be the case – that is the theme of a program which will hit Raymond Terrace this month.

Called the Stepping Forwards Course, the program is designed for those who have loved ones using drugs or alcohol.

It will be delivered by Family Drug Support (FDS), in conjunction with Port Stephens Family Support’s communities for children program. Course leader Julie Clark said many dependent users had stated that without their family’s support, they would not have survived.

But, she said, in return families were often judged and discounted by society.

“Rather than getting support, families are left to deal with huge amounts of blame, shame and stigma,” she said.

“It is a nightmare that no one can fully understand. If left to face enormous challenges without support, isolation and helplessness can set in.”

In a bid to curb the stigma FDS has provided a range of support services specifically designed for family members of alcohol and drug dependents for more than 17 years. Ms Clarke said she had seen results.

“I have seen the enormous difference from when people enter the course and when they leave,” she said.

“They are stronger, better supported and have taken on skills to better manage their relationship with the user.”

Jane (not her real name) is a former Stepping Forwards participant and the mother of a drug-dependent son.

“Stepping Forwards helped me accept that staying connected does not mean I have to remain helpless and lose myself,” she said.

“Like many others, I thought I was all alone. Having a safe and non-judgmental space to be with others with similar experiences helped me to gain a new perspective.”

The course aims to increase confidence and competence in managing drug issues.

It provides a reality-based educational approach that includes self-care and valuing self.

“While there are no guarantees you will be very glad you came along,” Ms Clark said. “Becoming more resilient and having skills to cope better will allow you to survive the journey intact.”

The course runs from 9.30am to 3pm on Tuesday, May 27, at Port Stephens Family Support Service, 3-5 Phillip Road, Raymond Terrace. Free child care is available. Bookings are preferred but you can just turn up on the day. To make a booking or for more information contact Julie Clark on 0400 113 422 or Port Stephens Family Support Service on 4987 4674.

For 24/7 support, call FDS toll free 1300 368 186.