Seven Elements of Positive Communication (Talking With Your Loved One)

At Scottish Families, we use a programme called CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) in our Support Services. We believe it gives the best possible outcomes for anyone concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. It teaches the best ways to make small but powerful changes in your life.

CRAFT helps you to think of things in a different way. It teaches you how to talk to someone about their alcohol or other drug use differently, communicate with each other more positively, and set and keep boundaries to yourself. It might not be for everyone though, and if you come to our service and feel it’s not for you, we can look at other ways to support you.

In this little blog mini-series, we’re starting off with the seven elements of positive communication. When it comes to talking to your loved one about their alcohol or other drug use, it can be so difficult. But these seven elements can help you achieve a more positive outcome with them.

They are:

  1. Be positive
  2. Be brief
  3. Be specific
  4. Label your feelings
  5. Offer an understanding statement
  6. Take partial responsibility
  7. Offer to help

These steps take planning and thought, but over time they become easier to do. These steps are helpful for all communication, not just when talking about alcohol or drugs.

Be Positive

Being ‘positive’ means describing what you want, instead of what you don’t want. This shifts the framing of what you say from being critical and complaining to supportive and doable.

It’s easier to ‘reward’ someone for doing something, rather than not doing something. Being positive decreases defensiveness and instead promotes motivation.

Unhelpful = ‘you always embarrass me when you are drinking’

Positive = ‘I love spending time with you when you are sober’

Be Brief

Most of us will say more than we intend to say if we haven’t planned in advance, especially if we’re nervous or angry. Write out what you want to say beforehand and stick to it.

Unhelpful = ‘I don’t know what to do with you being out all the time, you never phone to let me know when you’ll be home, I don’t know where you are or what you are doing.’

Brief = ‘Could we agree that you call me tonight if you’re going to be out late – just so I know you’re safe and okay?’

Be Specific

It’s easy to ignore or misunderstand something if it is not communicated clearly. If you try to refer to specific behaviours instead of thoughts or feelings, it may make change more observable, measurable and reinforceable.

Instead of telling your loved one to ‘be more responsible’, try telling them the specific behaviour you’d like to see such as ‘I’d really appreciate it if you could phone me if you’re going to be in late from work.’

Unhelpful = ‘You said you were going to get help months ago and you haven’t bothered to do anything about it. You need to sort yourself out, when’s this going to change?’

Specific = ‘There’s a meeting on a Tuesday night, would you be willing to go to that? I can drop you off and pick you up if you’d like?’

Label your feelings

Be brief and in proportion – a description of your emotional reaction to the problem can help with empathy and consideration from your loved one. Say how you feel in a calm and non-accusatory manner. If your feelings are very intense, it would be helpful to tone them down. So if you were feeling ‘furious and terrified’ you could say ‘frustrated and worried’ instead.

Unhelpful = ‘you are breaking this family up, you don’t care about our feelings!’

Improved = ‘I sometimes feel like you don’t realise the effect your drinking is having on us, I love you and care about you.’

Understanding Statement

The more the person believes that you ‘get’ why they are acting the way they are, the less defensive they will be and the more likely to hear you and oblige. Trying to understand your loved one’s perspective builds your empathy, which will help your relationship.

Unhelpful = ‘Why can we never spend time together without you drinking?’

Improved = ‘I know drinking helps you relax and you often feeling anxious if you don’t drink. I would really like to find a way to support you with that and spend time together where we don’t drink.’

Take Some Responsibility

Sharing in a problem, even a tiny piece of the problem decreases defensiveness and promotes collaboration. It shows your loved one that you’re interested in solving, not blaming.

Accepting partial responsibility does not mean taking the blame or admitting fault. It communicates ‘we are in this together’.

Unhelpful = ‘You didn’t even bother to turn up for your appointment last week and you’re happy to pretend you forgot and don’t get anything sorted.’

Positive = ‘I know sometimes I give you a hard time about you attending your appointments, I can imagine that increases the stress and pressure on you. I know it’s not easy. Could I help by reminding you to go to your appointment or driving you when I’m on my way to work?’

Offer to Help

When phrased as a question, an offer to help can communicate non-blaming, problem-solving support. Try asking ‘is there any way I can help?’ a little goes a long way to improving communication.

Unhelpful = ‘You never remember your GP appointment.’

Improved = ‘Would it help you if I reminded you about your appointment?’

It does seem like a lot and there is a lot to remember, but starting to use these elements can really change how you and your loved one speak and understand each other.

Want to develop your communication further?

You can read more in the 20-minute CRAFT guide here.

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, or use the webchat on our website.

Other support

Walk Scotland’s Kiltwalk For Scottish Families This September!

How does your support make a difference to families in Scotland?

£13 could pay for an hour of staff support for our helpline, which receives around 200 contacts per month.

£18 could pay for a session of one to one support, giving families a place to speak and be heard.

£40 could pay for an hour of bereavement counselling supporting anyone who has lost a loved one to drugs or alcohol.

We are here when they need us, the only national charity in Scotland providing expert support for those affected by the consequences of someone else’s alcohol or drug use.

How can you get involved?

By walking Scotland’s Kiltwalk on the 26th September 2021!

You can choose to walk 3 miles or 16 miles.

A lot of work has gone into making the route Covid secure for everyone.

For every pound you raise the Hunter Foundation gives an extra 50%!

So every £10 becomes £15!

Sign up to be part of #TeamSFAD today – all donations, no matter how small, help us carry out our work and reach more families.

Sign Up Here

Overdose Awareness Day 2021

Today is International Overdose Awareness Day and Scottish Families are taking the time to highlight that naloxone saves lives. Below you can find out more about our online click and deliver naloxone service from our own Suzanne. You can hear about the tragic loss one family member has gone through and why she won’t stop campaigning about drug reform. And we have included additional links and resources.


Scottish Families Online Click and Deliver Naloxone Service

Hear below from Suzanne on our team about naloxone and why everyone should carry a naloxone kit. These kits can be ordered through Scottish Families and delivered to you through the post if you live in Scotland.

Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of opioid drugs like heroin and methadone. It will begin to work in 2-5 minutes.

Carrying naloxone means you can potentially save someone’s life.

Order your naloxone kit here.

From Caroline

‘We lost our beautiful boy on the 24th of October 2001, aged 28.

The devastation of a drug-related death hits the family hard and I wasn’t prepared for the harrowing eight weeks waiting for his body to be released. So many emotions going around in my head. Why can’t I see him? Touch him? Cuddle him? It was so cold and impersonal. I wanted to shout out ‘this is my lovely boy, I want to be with him’ but being an ongoing criminal investigation, this was not allowed to happen. It is tragic to be treated in that way. It just should not happen.’

Read Caroline’s blog post here.

Sudden and Unexplained Deaths

A little while ago we created this page full of information on sudden and unexplained deaths. It feels right today to highlight this information again. Family members who have lost a loved one from alcohol or drug-related death have written this booklet with the support of Scottish Families.

Read Sudden and Unexplained Deaths here.

Updated E-Learning on Overdose Intervention, Prevention and Naloxone  

Scottish Drugs Forum e-learning course on Overdose Intervention, Prevention and Naloxone has been updated to reflect current policies and practice ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day.

Take the training here. 

We are here to support you if you are concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We can chat, offer advice and information, and link you either into our own services or services local to you.

Contact our Helpline today on 08080 10 10 11, or you can use the webchat at our site

Helpful links:

Overdose Awareness Day 2021 – with thanks to Caroline

From Caroline

Kevin was born on the 13th of December 1972 and he was just a lovely baby. There weren’t any problems to worry about and he continued to grow into a happy and contented toddler. At the age of 4, he entered nursery school and settled down enjoying the interaction with his friends.

Around the age of 10, we started to notice that his behaviour was changing to more challenging and confrontational behaviour. He was a very articulate boy with a passion for reading and cooking and frequently made meals for us as a family.

During this time he was getting ready to leave primary school and moving on to secondary and we put his behaviour down to the move as it can be a daunting task for a child. Unfortunately, his behaviour only got worse and this led to exclusion from school. At an interview with the school, I asked for help into why Kevin was acting the way that he was. We were referred to a psychologist who told us Kevin had a high IQ and had a problem controlling his behaviour as he was frustrated. We were introduced to a social worker alongside the psychologist and they recommended a stay in an assessment centre to monitor him.

Then the nightmare started.

We lost our boy the day he entered that establishment. And worst still, Kevin was on the receiving end of that nightmare.

He was abused while in the care of these monsters unknown to us. This had a huge impact on his mental health and he started self-harming and self-medicating with drugs. We were at a loss as to why this was happening.

When we found out what had been going on at these centres, it then made sense as to why he started using drugs. It was a way to escape the horrors in his head. He told me many times that he would be better off dead. It was so very sad to see the person you loved most in the world fade away and lose the will to live.

We lost our beautiful boy on the 24th of October 2001, aged 28.

The devastation of a drug-related death hits the family hard and I wasn’t prepared for the harrowing eight weeks waiting for his body to be released. So many emotions going around in my head. Why can’t I see him? Touch him? Cuddle him? It was so cold and impersonal. I wanted to shout out ‘this is my lovely boy, I want to be with him’ but being an ongoing criminal investigation, this was not allowed to happen. It is tragic to be treated in that way. It just should not happen.

My son was ill in so many ways. He was punished again and again by those custodians at the centres and by society. Support at that time wasn’t available and I wasn’t sure where to turn.

However, as the years passed a friend introduced me to Scottish Families and this is what set me on a path of discovery. I learned that I was not on my own which was a huge relief, although sad at the circumstances leading to that grief.

Through Scottish Families, I learned about addiction and how best to cope and look after myself. I have since been involved in many wonderful adventures with Scottish Families and have huge respect for the work they do.

Acknowledging grief is important as it lets you move on with your life. However, not everyone’s grief comes at the same time. But when that time comes you need to seek help and share it with family, friends and support groups. The feeling of knowing that others have been through that journey is a comfort. I have made lifelong friends from these groups that I will cherish and be grateful for. They helped me continue in life and to think of my son without feeling sad. I treasure the time I had with him in a positive way, and that comes from listening and speaking with others.

We are here to support you if you are concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We can chat, offer advice and information, and link you either into our own services or services local to you.

Contact our Helpline today on 08080 10 10 11, or you can use the webchat at our site

Helpful links:

Episode 4 of Life with Alcohol and Drugs is now live!

The next episode of our podcast series Life with Alcohol and Drugs is now available!

In this episode, we talk about the alcohol marketing survey which was carried about by the Scottish Families Alcohol Action Group at the beginning of 2021. Members of the group join us to discuss the findings of the recent survey and how the Covid pandemic has impacted people’s alcohol use.

‘…The design of these products appeal to particular demographics so they look appealing to you know, they might be particularly appealing to younger people who are just commencing their drinking journey and things and they look nice. And that’s why they want to drink them.’

Make sure to follow our PodBean channel here so you don’t miss an episode –

Transcripts for each episode will be available on our website –

We would love your support to help get our podcast out there! Share with your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, anyone!

Thank you and we hope you enjoy listening.

Reflections on the Drug-Related Death Figures from a Family Member

The 30th July 2021! A day of great significance for our family…our son’s first night in his own new home! But we are painfully aware of its significance too for so many families across Scotland who have lost their loved ones to addiction this year, every life now symbolic of the loss of hope and the failed drug policies now so urgently in need of revision.

We have lived in the shadow of addiction for decades now and had almost come to expect that one day our son would be included in these chilling statistics. He has struggled, and we along with him, through several rounds of rehab, a spell in prison, homelessness and several overdoses … and we were almost always in a state of either hyper-vigilance or chaos. However, against the odds, he has survived and we are grateful beyond measure. Today is momentous for us.

We know the far-reaching impact of stigma which has its tentacles in every corner of society and which leads those affected to expect little for themselves in terms of respect, dignity or reasonable standards of service that others might receive in our health system.

It has also kept families from coming forward to advocate on behalf of their loved ones…but that is changing. Scottish Families has done so much in recent years to develop services and advocate for support for families across Scotland but also to promote better understanding and treatment of our loved ones at government and local levels. We are personally grateful too.

A new group, Families Campaign For Change, has grown from its roots in family support. Mainly mothers empowered by knowledge and compassion advocating passionately for improved services, it is informed by many years of experience and gaining momentum. Families are now demanding to be acknowledged, listened to and valued.

We attended a family support group some time ago and with the support of others who shared our journey and education on the nature of addiction, we came to a better understanding of a misunderstood affliction which allows demonisation of those struggling with what is a devastating illness. We turned anger and resentment to understanding and compassion and, though we had to make difficult choices at times to limit the impact on ourselves, we were also empowered to make choices that supported his recovery – a slow and winding path.

We have seen the development of better understanding through neuroscience and been encouraged by the brave pioneers willing to try alternative strategies in the face of institutional resistance. At last, we are beginning to see a move towards compassionate treatment for our loved ones and we are hopeful that they will come to be regarded throughout society as being worthy of humane treatment and respect as individuals in need of care rather than stereotyped as dangerous criminals needing incarceration or cast off as beyond help.

Behind all of these statistics are families; families who have loved and hoped; families who have supported and struggled, often alone and in the dark; families who have prayed and not been answered; families who grieve despite having done all in their power ….and we think of them; those whose shoes we have tried on so many times.

In their name, we ask for support for families impacted by addiction but also, as a matter of urgency, for our government to be brave and determined in their efforts to address this epidemic of tragic loss, and for services to be open to the challenges and embrace these changes.

– Rosie

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, or use the webchat on our website.

Other support

Rising Alcohol Deaths Reflect Lockdown Pressures on Families

The announcement today that a further 1,190 people in Scotland have died through alcohol-specific causes in 2020 reflects another year of heartbreak for families affected by alcohol harm.

Sadly these figures come as little surprise to Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, with our national Helpline trends around alcohol during the COVID pandemic showing an escalating picture of risk, harm and service failure.

Between April 2020 and March 2021 (the pandemic year), the Scottish Families Helpline was contacted by people concerned about alcohol harm from every single one of Scotland’s 29 Alcohol and Drug Partnership areas – covering urban, rural and island communities, and both deprived and affluent communities.

Due to the pressures of the pandemic, our overall Helpline contacts increased by 66% from the previous year. However this rose to an 84% increase from people concerned specifically about alcohol use (over four-fifths).

We saw a faster rise in contacts from those concerned about their own alcohol use than from those concerned about someone else:

  • Almost two and half times more people contacted us in 2020-21 to talk about their own alcohol use, than during the previous year (from 130 to 304 contacts).
  • Just over one and three quarters more family members and friends contacted us to talk about their concerns about a loved one’s alcohol use (from 328 to 596 contacts).
  • Interestingly there was a slight drop in referrals from others (e.g. other professionals and services), despite increased need.

The stories shared by individuals and families contacting our Helpline point to:

  • Increased alcohol use by people of all ages during lockdown, including those on furlough and home working;
  • Family members becoming more aware of their loved one’s drinking with everyone at home together;
  • Increased levels of violence and aggression in the home, including family members feeling coerced to buy alcohol;
  • Chaotic living situations, including job loss, homelessness, relapse and mental health concerns (including suicide attempts);
  • Life-threatening medical emergencies caused by sudden alcohol withdrawal, with 70% of concerns about withdrawal during lockdown relating specifically to alcohol withdrawal;
  • Lack of access to alcohol treatment services – both for those already in treatment and those who are seeking help for the first time;
  • Limited treatment options or choice for those who did reach support, with individuals’ and families’ alcohol concerns frequently dismissed and downplayed by services, and poor or limited harm reduction advice;
  • In just 1 in 10 cases (10%), the individual whose drinking was causing concern was fully engaged with a treatment provider. A further 2 in 10 (21%) were described as having ‘intermittent’ engagement.

A snapshot of some real scenarios from our Helpline for support included:

  • A woman from Fife is concerned about her partner who had “been on a bender” since being furloughed. He had not paid his rent, so the landlord has locked the doors and left his property in the hallway. He keeps phoning her looking for money and is living with different friends each night.
  • A woman from Dundee is concerned about her sister who has tried to take her life three times during lockdown. She has been hospitalised twice and her alcohol use is increasing. She was in withdrawals and attempted to access support, but she can’t get a reply from her local service.
  • A woman from Grampian is concerned about her partner who has relapsed. When she challenges his drinking he has been violent. She is looking for support in how to leave with their children but she has no income and nowhere to go.
  • A young woman from Glasgow is concerned about her brother’s drinking and drug use. He has tried to engage with his GP on numerous occasions and been offered no support other than anti-depressants. The family is looking for somewhere to send him for treatment as he can no longer live in the family home due to stress. Every service they have tried to contact offered no support.

Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, said:

“While Scotland continues its COVID recovery journey, it is clear that life will not get back to normal any time soon for thousands of families affected by alcohol harm. A heart-breaking total of 1,190 families lost a loved one to alcohol last year – every one of those a preventable death. Thousands more are struggling to recover from the impact of months of lockdown.

Since March 2020 our Helpline has been inundated with calls from individuals concerned about their own drinking during lockdown, and from those concerned about a loved one’s alcohol use. A common theme has been how impossible it is to reach alcohol treatment and support when you need it, with phones ringing out, messages not returned, and few options offered when you do actually reach help. Individuals and families need immediate access to high quality alcohol treatment and support when they need it and where they need it. Then we might just start saving lives rather than counting deaths.”

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, or use the webchat on our website.

Other support

Beverly’s Review of ‘Another Round’

Our volunteer Beverly has kindly written a short piece about the Danish film ‘Another Round’ 

Like many people, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with alcohol. I like to think I am a responsible drinker, I’ve been tipsy but I have also been embarrassingly drunk – more than once. I’ve woken up with a hangover swearing never to touch a drop of alcohol again. As someone who grew up with an alcoholic parent, I know what the ugly side of heavy drinking looks like, but I still enjoy a glass of wine.

We “responsible drinkers” may feel a bit uncomfortable when confronted with the harm that alcohol causes, maybe because it reminds us of our own embarrassing moments. However, if we want to tackle the harm caused to our communities by alcohol, we must be willing to see both sides. Reverend Richard Coles, whose partner died of alcohol-related liver disease in 2019, wrote recently the media is at risk of “romanticising” dangerous drinking because the harsh reality “spoils our enjoyment of a daily pleasure for the vast majority who ‘drink responsibly’”.

It was with this in mind that I went along to see the Oscar-winning Danish film, Another Round, which had been described in some reviews as a celebration of drinking. ‘Druk’, the original Danish title translates roughly as ‘binge drinking’ and most of the trailers feature actors swigging with abandon from bottles and having a seemingly wonderful time. Was this film going to be a 90-minute advert for the alcohol industry or a parable about the evils of drink? Is it possible to make an enjoyable film that balances the fun of being slightly tipsy with the horror of ending up passed out in the street?

The short answer is yes.

It’s a great film about friendship, families and yes, drinking. It’s the story of 4 middle-aged teachers who feel they are stuck in a rut. They decide to conduct an experiment by agreeing to see if being slightly drunk will improve their lives at work and home. Initial results are promising when they maintain a strict blood alcohol level of 0.05%; the men seem more relaxed, more confident, more spontaneous. Some of us might say the same about our own drinking, that it helps us relax, make us less shy, give us a wee bit of Dutch courage so to speak. But as the men discover, it’s hard to maintain that delicate balance between being “just drunk enough” and “too drunk”. As they raise their daily alcohol level, things start to go wrong. Their behaviour becomes out of control, and they can no longer see the impact of their drinking on themselves and those close to them. As I watched these 4 men move from hilarious drunken scenes to moments of sadness and humiliation, I swithered between wishing I had a glass of fizz in my hand to toast them and feeling queasy at the amount of alcohol being consumed.

Like the Danes, we Scots can be bullishly proud of our hard-drinking reputation. Lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to have fuelled the idea that we are being prevented from exercising our most valuable freedom – to go to the pub and get absolutely hammered.

Another Round is not a judgemental film, those seeking a clear moral statement about the evils of alcohol won’t find it here. I think the director managed to show both the fun of being a bit tipsy and the damage that heavy drinking causes. There is a sadness at the heart of the film which reminded me why alcohol-related illnesses are often called diseases of despair. Like the men in the film, many of us are using alcohol to cover up depression, anxiety, grief.

To address the harm that alcohol is causing in our communities, we need to have an honest conversation that doesn’t scare off the responsible drinkers.

If you are worried about someone else’s alcohol or drug use, we are here to listen and to help. You can contact our team on 08080 10 10 11, or use the webchat on our website.

Other support

Families Holding On To Hope As Drug Death Toll Continues 

Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs (Scottish Families) is marking the release of the 2020 Drug Death Statistics on 30 July 2021 by sharing the stories of three family members who are desperately trying to keep their loved ones alive, against the odds.

Rose, Abbie and Imogen [names changed] are all supported by Scottish Families’ Holding On service, which supports family members whose loved ones are at high risk of drug related death.

Their stories echo those of thousands of families across Scotland who are affected by a loved one’s drug use, including those whose loved ones have died in the past year. They show the intense and unrelenting pressure on families due to ongoing service gaps and failures, especially where there are complex drug and mental health problems. They also show how support for family members in their own right can help reduce harm and risk for everyone.

Rose’s Story

Rose came to Holding On looking for support with her son’s addiction to heroin, cocaine, crack, ‘street valium’ and methadone. Her son was being released from prison and she was worried that he would relapse. Her son did relapse and Rose gave him naloxone after she realised he was overdosing and dying.

There was a lot of worry about Rose’s mental health and she had to take time off work. She was supported to work on looking after herself and supporting her son. With our support, she was able to return to work, put boundaries in place, and follow through with the natural consequences of drug addiction. For example, Rose had to contact the police after her son was abusive towards her and her husband when they wouldn’t allow him into their home when he was under the influence.

Through the support of Holding On, Rose has been able to grow and strengthen her relationship with her son. As there has been no anger and frustration, but instead strength to make change, the relationship between her and her son is growing. Her son is now in contact with treatment services for support. And even though he is still using drugs, there are changes he has made due to Rose receiving support.

The Holding On service is a lifeline for me and has given me the confidence and strength through some extremely difficult times. I can now cope in a more positive way for both myself and my loved one. I am able to stay calm in moments of crisis and not let situations overwhelm me. Most importantly, I accept not everything is my responsibility to fix and I know how to detach from the pain and try to encourage him to take responsibility for his own life.”

Abbie’s Story

Abbie was looking for support for her son who had been using ‘street valium’, cocaine, acid and alcohol for over two years. Her son has mental health problems and can be violent, aggressive, self-harms and ‘plays’ with guns and knives. Abbie was struggling to cope with her son and was scared of him, but also scared for him as he was self-harming and spoke about killing himself.

Holding On supported Abbie to look after herself and to make a safety plan for when she does see him to make sure she was safe and could keep in touch with him. She had to take time off work for her own health. Although hard for her, Abbie made changes and sometimes has to take a break from supporting him, but is still supportive and is trying to get him support for his mental health. He has been in for treatment a few times but never long enough to get well.

Abbie has worked on looking after herself and has changed her behaviour when it comes to her son. She is back at work and is still able to support him, but from a distance as he is aggressive and violent. Her son is still using substances and is unwell, but cannot get any support with this from services at the moment.

I felt powerless, I felt like I was drowning and suffocating in the hell of addiction. Holding On has shown me how to gain control and power over my own life and most importantly, they have given me the strength and courage to carry on. I would not be where I am today without their support.”

Imogen’s Story

Imogen came to Holding On for support with her son who is using heroin, ‘street valium’, and crack. She also mentioned she was not sure what he takes and he may be using more substances. Her son was living with her at the time, and relies on her for most of his needs. Imogen also has a daughter who uses drugs but she does not live with her.

Imogen has been struggling with her own mental health because of the circumstances she was living in. Holding On supported her in knowing the risks involved with her son and daughter’s drug use and provided naloxone and how to use it if it was ever needed. Imogen has been supported to look after herself and to make changes with her son while he still lived with her, but he has since got a house and moved out. Both her son and daughter have had contact with treatment services, but seem to be ‘stuck’. Imogen has tried to change the way she is with them and encourages them to work on their drug use without judgement. She knows that it is up to them to make changes in their own lives now and to not rely on her.

I view Holding On as a new path of enlightenment, which offers different tools to work on. It’s like breaking into new ground for me with new things to learn. I feel it gives me a feeling of fresh hope and optimism.”

Justina Murray, CEO of Scottish Families, said:

With the announcement this week of another heartbreaking drug death toll in Scotland, we are sadly hearing the same stories about families’ desperate attempts to keep their loved ones alive. Whilst we welcome the millions of pounds of new funding to address drug harms, along with a raft of new initiatives, strategies and plans, the reality on the ground is that things still look and feel the same for families. We will only see change in the drug death figures when families tell us things have changed for the better.

For years families have been shouting about the lack of treatment and care options for their loved ones, particularly for co-existing drugs and mental health issues; judgemental services which are near impossible to access and sustain; the lack of any clear care and recovery plans; and their exclusion from key decisions alongside an assumption they will constantly step into the breach where services fail. Families are holding on to hope and holding on for change, but time has run out for too many.”

The Family Recovery College 2021 – Now Enrolling!

The Family Recovery College offers a free informal 12-week online course, Understanding Substance Use and Holding on to Hope, for anyone living in Scotland concerned about someone else’s alcohol or drug use. We will support you to build knowledge, skills, and confidence to support yourself and your loved one.

The 2021 Family Recovery Course starts Tuesday 14th September! To find out more information and how to join, contact either:

Debra Nelson: 07379 830357  or

Tich Watson: 07775 252380 or 

Students on the course will:

  • Increase their positive connection with others
  • Develop communication strategies to improve relationships
  • Improve self-care and emotional wellbeing
  • Improve understanding of substance use through new knowledge and skills
  • Feel empowered to influence change in their lives and the lives of their loved one

The course will cover the most up-to-date information and knowledge of drug and alcohol use. We will hear from family and friends who have lived/living experiences. We will run a series of sessions on positive communication based on the CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) principles. We will spend time thinking about our self-care and well-being. We will discuss stigma and think about what it means for us, our loved ones and our community.

‘It has given me a sense of self-worth and the feeling that my opinions and lived experience matter.’ – Family Recovery College Student

The Family Recovery College from Scottish Families on Vimeo.

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