A positive ‘focus’ for families living with addiction problems

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WHEN a person is suffering from addiction, he or she can be so wrapped up in their own world, that their behaviour can often be just as detrimental to family and friends who struggle to “save” them as they try to get them back on track.

However, a Derry self-help group is continuing to aid families to challenge the traditional notion of how addiction is viewed and dealt with in the wider community.

The aim of the recently renamed group, Foyle Family Focus, is to empower and promote well being and a “normal” life for loved ones who are trying to exist within the chaos of drug and/or alcohol addiction.

“The group, which operates from the HURT premises on Clarendon Street, was formed after an initial meeting to assess interest and need and is supported by members of the Foyle Drugs and Alcohol Forum.



A family member, who deals with addiction on a daily basis, spoke to the “Journal” anonymously about finding support within the group to help carry on with the business of daily living.

“Jay” spoke of how finding Foyle Family Focus has helped her to no longer feel alone and how her life has changed from the unhealthy pattern of looking after an addict’s needs, to starting to focus on her own life instead.

“Every family has an addict in its circle, even if we don’t truly understand or recognise it,” she maintained.

“Unless someone experiences seeing a loved one in addiction, they can never truly understand the lengths that someone will actually go to access their drug of choice, whether that is narcotics or alcohol.

“When you live with an addict you are constantly on high alert because you don’t know what will happen next and that has a huge impact on normal life,” added “Jay.”

She went on: “Happy events, day to day enjoyment of living and special occasions can all come to a stop.

“It’s not just the addict who can suffer from mental health issues, but family members too because of the constant stress they are placed under.

“When everything revolves around an addict’s behaviour and needs, you can lose interest in yourself because all of your energy is devoted to them. Self-care goes out the window. “

Realising the extent of the problem, “Jay” was keen to meet other people in similar circumstances to her own.

“I joined Foyle Family Care because I wanted to meet people in a similar boat to mine. It’s tough to talk about problems with addiction in relation to a family member, to people who aren’t going through the same situation. “

She found what she had been looking for and talking to others in similar situations has had an immediate impact on “Jay’s” life.

“It was a great relief to be able to talk freely about things and not to feel ashamed or to blame for the situation I found myself in.” she concluded.



Foyle Family Focus can be accessed by anyone and can be contacted via Facebook or by contacting Stephanie Hill at First Housing on 07725688202, Sean McErlan on 07540823332 or Evelyn Brett on 71 314239.