Family members are often the primary support for people who have substance use and/or mental health problems. We know that these caregivers are likely to experience significant physical, emotional, social and spiritual stress. Although there are a growing number of interventions designed to help and support family members, many agencies do not see this as their mandate, and—if they do—it is secondary to the job of working with the person diagnosed with substance use and/or mental health problems.
It can be said fairly that there are structural and conceptual limitations in the ways formal treatment services think about and put into practice responses to substance use and mental health problems. Those limitations make it difficult to see the importance and value of treatment services for family members. This is even more pronounced in the area of concurrent disorders, where people have co-occurring substance use and mental health problems.
Clinicians often lack training and tools that would allow them to feel confident and prepared to undertake the task of working with families. So, even when the level of willingness is high, there can be barriers that, if not addressed successfully, can undermine and interfere with starting and sustaining this work.
This resource also available online.