The ‘Rise Foundation’ family programme which gives support to the families of drug users took place in the Hub, Lios Dubh, Dundalk last week, and was attended by founder, singer and newly appointed Senator, Frances Black.
Turas Counselling Services Ltd., the North East Family Support Network and the Rise Foundation are working together within the Dundalk/Louth area to develop a formal inter-agency to support both substance users and their families. All three have come together to support the 10-week Rise Foundation family programme in Dundalk.
Gwen McKenna, from the North East Region Family Support Network, spoke about the agency, “It really is a pilot project. There are agencies in Louth, Cavan and Meath to give support to families of those affected by drugs to let them know there are people they can talk to.”
The Rise Foundation was set up in 2009 by Senator Black to help family members free themselves from the stress, anxiety and worry of having a loved one with addictive behaviour. Turas is an organisation dedicated to the aftercare of dependent drug users in a non-residential setting and the Family Addiction Support Network provides services to families while respecting the lived experiences of families affected by drugs in a welcoming and non-judgemental atmosphere.
“We’ve been given great support by Dundalk County Council who have given us a fantastic facility in the Hub in Lios Dubh. Senator Black is a wonderful voice for the programme as she knows what it’s like for the families and knows the support they need.”
The 10-week family programme in Dundalk takes place one evening per week from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and it has been ongoing since April 26th. It is attended by up to 20 participants where they receive lectures, group therapy and one on one counselling sessions by qualified counsellors.
Senator Black set up the ‘Rise’ programme after her own recovery from addiction and after she graduated as an addiction counsellor herself.
McKenna continued: “The family members of those with addiction have needs in their own right. For years, the family of sufferers were overlooked. They were never paid any attention as it didn’t seem like they needed help but they do need to be supported. They need education and they need the opportunity to share their stories with other people who know what they’re going through. If they have hard decisions to make, it makes it easier to have support from others. They can go for coffee and talk it over and it gets them through it.”
The lack of awareness of substance abuse can lead to isolation and a strain on the family who may feel a powerlessness while watching their loved one waste away from addiction. The addictions can range from alcohol and drugs to gambling, food and sex. The programme is specifically targeted towards educating families and creating awareness. “They don’t realise they need help. If I see a family in bits when they come in, it’s incredibly satisfying to watch them come together, get through it and maintain their relationship.”
“We’re not a well-known group just yet as we’ve only been around since October 2015. Our group, the Family Addiction Support Network, is entirely voluntary and we’ve just been very lucky to have such great support from the Council because what we do is a really important resource to have.”
The inter-agency hopes to run another 10 week programme in October 2016.