Living with an addiction can be life-threatening and have disastrous effects on a person’s life, and the problems can spread to family members, leaving them in need of help and support.
That is where Step Together steps in to help. The Linlithgow-based charity run by Rosie (63) and Colin (63) Hutcheon aims to give the relatives of someone battling addiction a safe space to discuss their problems, fears and worries.
The group was created to complement the work of the 1st Step Recovery Cafe which has provided a range of opportunities for people recovering from addiction.
Rosie, who was on the steering group in charge of setting up the cafe, explained how successful it has been as it approaches its first anniversary.
She said: “The cafe is now run completely by volunteers in recovery and continues to help people with their addictions.
“However, family members of addicts need support as well. That is one of the reasons we set up this charity.”
Last October, the inaugural meeting of the Step Together group took place in Linlithgow’s Longcroft Hall and, following the SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) structured programme, people were able to learn how to ensure they were managing before they try to help their loved one with their addiction.
Colin, a retired teacher, said: “The point of the meetings is not about helping the person who is addicted.
“Rather focusing on helping the family member. People are unaware how traumatic it can be for relatives living with someone who is an addict.
“We teach that you need to look after yourself so you can cope more effectively with someone battling addiction.”
Rosie has seen the true positives of following the SMART structure. She said: “I have experienced how family support can bring real benefits.
“With greater understanding of the nature of addiction, sharing with those who have similar difficulties and helping to learn new ways of responding to loved ones, participants lives can and will improve.”
Colin and Rosie both understand the stigma that still surrounds addiction and stress the group is a safe space.
Rosie said: “Whatever is said in the room stays there. The group is filled with people going through the same problems so no one will be judging you.”
Numbers attending meetings have grown steadily since October with more and more people discovering the true effect a loved ones addiction is having on them.
Colin said: “Relatives dealing with an addiction can be left feeling isolated, depressed and suffering from anxiety.
“There is evidence to show that family members pursuing their own recovery are also in a better position to influence positive outcomes for their loved ones.”
The group meets every second and fourth Wednesday at 7pm, alternate weeks to the group at St John’s Hospital, meaning support is available every week of the year.
Step Together relies on donations from the public to continue to help families and Rosie and Colin would like to thank everyone who has helped them so far with various fundraising efforts.
For more information on Step Together family support contact Rosie on 07592 226917.