In Impact Stories, Physical & mental health, wellbeing & safety

Project: Support services for Buckinghamshire residents

Grant: £5,000

Fund: Community Investor Fund

DrugFAM founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips

DrugFAM founder Elizabeth Burton-Phillips in action

DrugFAM provide a seven day a week lifeline of safe, caring and professional support to families, friends, partners and significant others who are struggling to cope with the nightmare of a loved one’s addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. Through their range of services, which also include education and awareness, they support families to break free from the cycle of addiction and rebuild their lives.

DrugFAM was founded by Elizabeth Burton-Phillips who lost her son to suicide at the age of 27 after becoming involved in drugs. She is a full-time volunteer for the charity and a member of  the bereavement support team, supporting newly bereaved people (often parents) through the early weeks of their loss.  She also works hard to promote awareness of the impact of addiction on families in Buckinghamshire.

The support that DrugFam offer is designed to directly help families, spouses, partners, carers and friends who are unable to cope with the challenges of a loved one’s misuse of drugs, alcohol, other substances or gambling, or those who are bereaved because of substance misuse. People who typically call DrugFAM simply cannot cope any longer and have no where else to turn, often having reached crisis point of complex grief or trauma.

DrugFAM’s support empowered Bucks residents to deal constructively with the challenges of a loved one’s addiction, to repair family relationships, renew social connections and move forward with their lives, including returning to education, training or employment. 71% of the clients who responded to DrugFAM’s Client Satisfaction Questionnaire in 2022 reported that they were ‘looking after themselves better’ as a result of DrugFAM’s support. During the 12-month grant period, 40 Buckinghamshire residents attended one or more of DrugFAM’s weekly support groups. Clients use the support groups to connect with others who are in a similar situation, express emotions in a safe space and receive advice and guidance about how best to look after their own physical and emotional well-being.

There is a ripple effect to DrugFAM’s support meaning that the charity’s work has greater impact: charity records indicate that for every person directly supported there are, on average, two indirect beneficiaries within the household, often children or the person with the addiction illness.

Case Study

Two current DrugFAM clients are a husband and wife living in Buckinghamshire. They are very concerned about their teenage son, who has started taking cocaine. They report that the situation at home has been “horrendous”. The son comes and goes as he pleases, begs, borrows and steals for money, cannot hold down a job, and lies all the time. DrugFAM started supporting this family towards the end of the funding period. Over three weeks, practical and emotional support was given via telephone, email and a one-to-one consultation with the wife. Life is now gradually improving for the couple, as they feel that they now have a safe space where they can talk to people who just “get it”. They know changes are needed and have more confidence to deal with their son’s challenging behaviours in the future. The support from DrugFAM is on-going.

Read more about DrugFAM here.


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