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Families, including chosen families, can be an extremely important source of support in a person’s substances use care journey, but are often overlooked in substance use care planning.
In this episode of the Addiction Practice Pod, co-hosts David Ball and Christina Chant discuss the complexities and strengths of involving families in substance use care. In a slight departure from usual programming, Christina is joined by her sister, Lauren Chant, to provide their unique perspectives as both clinicians and family members with years of experience navigating the health care system.
- Understand the role family members can play in providing supportive substance use care.
- Discuss biases that exist around involving families in substance use care.
- Identify ways to support family members who are involved in providing supportive substance use care.
- Discuss how to navigate issues around consent and autonomy when family members are involved in care.
In this episode, you’ll hear:
- 2:35 – Lauren Chant – Clinical Nurse Educator, Vancouver Coastal Health
- 2:35 – Christina Chant – Director, Education and Clinical Activities, BC Centre on Substance Use
Here’s what listeners can take away from this episode:
- Family members, chosen and biological, often play an important role in providing supportive substance use care to a loved one. They can provide important historical and present-day collateral regarding the client’s care and can partner with clinicians on supporting clients through their healthcare journey.
- As a clinician, it’s important to provide space for family members to voice their concerns, ask questions, and provide support to help mitigate the challenges of supporting family through the health care system. Where possible, support the family by providing a safe space for this exchange to occur. Recognize that you share a common goal of keeping their loved one alive, engaged in health care, and supporting them with their health goals.
- Understand that family members often take on a lot of physical and emotional labour in order to support their loved ones. Families often have experienced similar challenges as the clients. Where possible, support the family to ensure they are not taking on responsibilities that can and should be handled by a clinician or other support worker. This can involve connecting family members to relevant supports and services.
- To navigate concerns around client confidentiality and consent, check in with your clients about how much information can be shared with their family members. Also, check in with family about how much capacity they have to be involved in their family’s care. Lastly, stay informed about the rights of family members and check in with them regularly about what they need to feel supported.
Services and Networks
- SMART Recovery Family & Friends
- BCCSU – Family Members & Caregiver Representatives
- CMHA – Family Navigator
- Moms Stop the Harm
- Holding Hope Canada
- From Grief to Action
- Parents Forever: Supporting Families Affected by Substance Use
- From Grief to Action (FGTA). Coping Kit: Dealing with Addiction in Your Family. 2018. Vancouver, B.C.: FGTA.
- British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU). Close to Home: Families and Caregivers Set Priorities for Addressing Substance Use and Addiction in BC. 2018. Vancouver, B.C.: BCCSU.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery from Mental Illness or Addiction. 2013. SAMHSA.
- British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU). Gone too Soon: Navigating Grief and Loss as a Result of Substance Use. 2018. Vancouver, B.C.: BCCSU.
- Here to Help. Family Toolkit. 2018. Accessed July 26, 2023. https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/workbook/family-toolkit.
- Copello AG, Velleman RD, Templeton LJ. Family interventions in the treatment of alcohol and drug problems. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2005;24(4):369-85.
- Daley DC. Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment. J Food Drug Anal. 2013;21(4):S73-76.
- Gruber KJ, Taylor MF. A family perspective for substance abuse: Implications from the literature. J Soc Work Pract Addict. 2006;6(1-2):1-29.
- Lander L, Howsare J, Byrne M. The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice. Soc Work Public Health. 2013;28(3-4):194-205.
- McCrady BS, Flanagan JC. The role of the family in alcohol use disorder recovery for adults. Alcohol Res. 2021;41(1):06.
- Tambling RR, Russell B, D’Aniello C. Where is the family in young adult substance use treatment? The case for systemic family therapy for young adults with substance use disorders. Int J Ment Health Addict. 2022;20(3):1659-70.
- Ventura AS, Bagley SM. To improve substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery: Engage the family. J Addict Med. 2017;11(5):339-341.
- Wilkens C, Foote J. “Bad parents”, “codependents”, and other stigmatizing myths about substance use disorder in the family. The Stigma of Addiction. 2019;33-53.