Release date: Tue, 12th, Jan. 2016

Together with Self Help Addiction Resource Centre (SHARC), Ballarat Community Health is sponsoring a new family peer support group for people who are living with the pressure of having someone they care about using alcohol or other drugs in an unhealthy manner.

The new group—We Are Not Alone (WANA)—will provide a non-judgmental, supportive and safe environment to talk openly about the difficulties one is facing with others who have experienced or are currently experiencing similar issues.

WANA will meet twice a month and provide members with the opportunity to not only share their experiences but also learn strategies to cope with their circumstances. The inaugural meeting will be held on Wednesday 27 January.

Amanda Johnstone, one of the trained Volunteer Family Peer Leaders for the group, said the concept of peer-based support is evidence-based and responds to the growing need to address the wider impact alcohol and other drugs has on users’ families.
“We want to make sure that people who feel alone and at a loss of how to cope can connect with others on a very similar journey,” Mrs Johnstone said.
The Australian Drug Foundations statistical trends indicate that in 2013 fifteen percent of Australians used an illicit drug—including using a pharmaceutical drug for non-medical purposes—in the previous 12 months and that generally people viewed excessive alcohol use as a problem. Also 34% of people surveyed thought that alcohol caused the most deaths, with 43% considering alcohol to be the drug of most serious concern to the general community. (1)
“The strain of living with someone else’s problematic alcohol and other drug use is more than most people can cope with alone.”

“It starts to weigh people down and the weight of the problem can lead to feelings of helplessness and shame as well as anxiety and depression” Mrs Johnstone said.

People interested in joining the group or wanting more information can phone Family Drug Helpline at any time on 1300 660 068.