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Family member with addiction/mental health issues

  • 15-09-2021 4:51pm
    Registered Users Posts: 5

    I am desperately looking for advise on a family member with both addiction and mental health issues. This person has been in and out of physciatric hospital over the last year and I am not sure if it has helped. The person seems worse then ever. Came out two weeks ago and we have no support. Because the person is an adult and with GDPR we cannot get any information regarding the persons condition and what we are dealing with. I tried Al anon but didn't like the Zoom meetings with other people. Anyone any other suggestions.


  • Administrators Posts: 13,410 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    You might be able to find another Al-Anon group that are holding in person meetings. I know a lot of them have opened back up. There is usually more than 1 group in an area.

    Unfortunately, as you say, with GDPR nobody can talk to you unless your family member gives permission. They have to engage with the treatment. If they don't, nobody can make them. Family or medical team.

    You should contact your GP. They might he able to advise an appropriate service you could go to for yourself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Trishdenise

    Thanks Big Bag of chips. Some al anon meetings are open in person but are very far away but might give them a go.

    I understand about GDPR but very frustrating when someone is living under your roof and you don't know what to do to help.

    The GP might help also.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,410 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Sometimes the treatment places have family days. Where the families are brought in and have their own sessions. To be honest, when it comes to addiction all you can do is step back. Anything you do to "help" is actually just enabling. It's very difficult if the person is living with you to disengage completely but I don't think there's anything their treatment team can tell you about them that you don't already know yourself.

    So you should contact the residential centre and ask for details of any family supports they might have in place, or if they can recommend any to you. Their own support programmes might only be available for the time the person is a resident in the centre.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,341 ✭✭✭apache

    If it's alcohol primarily get in touch with Stanhope Centre. They do seperate information meetings for problem drinkers and their families.

    They are back up and running. I found them a valuable resource at the time. 6 years now off the drink!

    They also do dual diagnosis groups for people with addiction and mental health issues.

    Best of luck. They are lucky to have someone who cares. It can be a long tough road.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,506 ✭✭✭karlitob

    To note - it’s nothing whatsoever got to with GDPR. However upsetting this is to you, all patients (including you) have a right to confidentiality. No healthcare professional can release any information - verbal, written or otherwise, without the consent of the patient. Obviously there specific legal exceptions.

    I understand that there is a long backstory to all this but have you asked your family member to give his/her consent to meet with the doctor and GP to discuss their care and act as advocate for them. If they specifically haven’t then you cannot be given this information.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Trishdenise

    That's great. Will try Stanhope. Thankyou.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,338 ✭✭✭corner of hells

    As one or two previous posters have said , some addiction services have family support staff who would be able to give advice and suggestion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Trishdenise

    Thanks for all the advice.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,776 ✭✭✭up for anything

    To get support for yourself and other family members contact the Family Support Network. The umbrella organisation has closed down but local meetings and area networks are still operating. It's a support group where you can go and offload and hear other people's stories and realise that you're not the only person who has a relative or friend with problems. At the moment the groups are in person. They were on Zoom for parts of the last 18 months but we're back to in person which is brilliant. You also learn ways to cope from those people who have been dealing with it for many years. While you can get information and ideas, the primary aim of the Family Support Groups is to lead you to self-care and not come to the realisation that the total immersion you can have in someone's addiction is not helping you. That living on adrenalin long-term only leads to both mental and physical health problems for the people close to the person in addiction. In the beginning we are all so sure if we can just say the right thing or find the right help or if the blue moon is rising in Aquarius with little pink pigs flying across it they will have to get better and we invest ourselves 100% in their recovery not realising that unless they are invested as well then there's feck all point.

    One track that you could try on finding information about them is asking whoever you are speaking to about a hypothetical person/situation. Sometimes especially if the person is young they can find a way to tell you. The only other way is to get the family member to tell the psychiatrist/therapist/outreach worker that they can share information with you.

    I know in our local DOP they have Tuesday meetings where all the professional staff in the DOP turn up including some of the nurses, the occupational therapist, the mental health social worker, the psych and his juniors and the patient where they discuss the patient's progress and meds and future. If the patient agrees they can have family members there. When my son was in the DOP he was happy for both myself and my sister to attend the meetings. At least we knew what was going on and we could put in our piece. To be fair, they didn't give a flying f**k what we had to say. They paid lip service to it but at least we knew what treatment was happening and what the diagnosis was. I could scream remembering the crap that they talked at times. My son was a tablet addict. At one of the meetings, the facilitator asked if he had any questions and he looked at the psyched and asked could he prescribe him more Lyrica (on the streets it's one of the tablets of choice). The psych looked at his notes and proceeded to up it. He didn't even ask him why he felt he needed more. Another time when I was refusing to have my son home and they wanted him out of the DOP yesterday - they were putting him in the local homeless shelter. When I asked was that a good idea because I'd heard from some of the professionals that it was full of drugs, they looked me in the eyes and assured me that it was a great place blah blah blah. I'm lucky he didn't come out with a heroin addiction to add to the tablets and weed.

    It is just very frustrating dealing with a system that won't tell you anything but which expects you to carry the load and the can. I stood at the reception desk in our DOP once trying to speak to his psychiatrist and genuinely cried my eyes out with despair and told them that I would kill my son that night in order to put him and me out of our misery. Not even that got me the chance to speak to someone.

    So many addicts and alcoholics have mental health's a bit chicken and egg but it's so hard to deal with the DOPs (Department of Psychiatry) who want someone to be clean before they feel they can help them which may be true but it's not feasible in so many cases. The same with rehab when they need to be clean or sober going into one - if they could that, wouldn't everything be fine. It really does feel like one step forward and ten back sometimes.

    I don't mean to depress you but the family support group will be one of your main aids in the journey. Everyone there has or is going through it and the facilitators for the meetings are people who were once sitting where the newest member is sitting. They are fully trained as well and do CPD.

    Best of luck to you, OP.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5 Trishdenise

    Thanks so much. I have an appointment next week with the Family support network so hopefully they will help us. Great advise. Thanks again.

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