A support program for family and friends of ice users has been expanded to include alcohol and other substances.
Developed in Newcastle, the Family and Friends Support Program helps people help their troubled loved ones, while making sure they don't neglect themselves.
Research shows that carers do try to make time for themselves. But they often place this down their list of priorities, as caring for their loved ones takes precedence.
They can become caught up in the caring role. And they also have to deal with stigma and a sense of loss.
Dara Sampson, a University of Newcastle academic research manager, said there was a particular stigma around caring for someone using ice [crystal methamphetamine].
Furthermore, carers can feel like they're losing the person they're looking after.
They can also feel "a loss of themselves and their time", said Ms Sampson, of the university's Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research.
Initially, researchers created a project called Cracks in the Ice to support people with "an ice usage issue".
But many people making contact with the program were family and friends, rather than those using the substance.
The Family and Friends Support Program was subsequently created for those affected by ice. But the federally-funded program was expanded after research showed the combined use of multiple substances was being raised as an issue. This included alcohol, ice, nicotine, cannabis, heroin and prescription opiates.
The expanded program, developed with the University of Sydney's Matilda Centre, is an online cognitive behavioural therapy program based on a series of modules.
"The program recognises that supporting someone who is drinking or using substances can be extremely stressful, and aims to assist families and friends to best manage the demands of this role," she said.
The expanded program will be discussed on Friday on a public webinar.
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