There are very few people in Co Mayo who have not had some first-hand experience of the destruction of family life caused by the addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Families affected by alcohol and drug abuse have to live with the nightmare 24/7 often without knowing where to turn for support or advice.
Thankfully, however, that is now all about to change in Co Mayo with the launch of a much needed new group to provide vital support to families dealing with the devastating impact of drug or alcohol use.
The new Mayo Drug and Alcohol Family Support Group will meet on January 30th in the TF Royal Hotel, Castlebar from 7:30 to 9 p.m.
A confidential, safe and encouraging place for families
It will provide a confidential, safe and encouraging place where people can come together to find ways to cope with the drug or alcohol use of someone close to them.
The new Mayo Drug and Alcohol Family Support Group is supported by the Western Region Drugs Task Force (WRDTF) and follows the recommendations of the national and regional drug strategy.
Last year, over 150 people in Mayo sought the support of drug and alcohol treatment services, which means that 150 families at least were living with
the trauma of substance abuse, according to Debbie McDonagh, Family Support Training and Development Worker for Mayo.
However, this figure is likely to be vastly underestimated she said because of the stigma and uncertainty often attached to such issues.
Mayo’s tragic relationship with alcohol
While drug use is rising across Mayo, a report published by the Health Research Board in 2011 found that the county has a particularly tragic relationship with alcohol. It came out worst in Ireland in alcohol-related deaths and deaths among people who were alcohol dependent.
“Many families experience disappointment, fear, worry, blame or manipulation if they are dealing with substance abuse in their home,” she said.
“They can also experience very frightening and stressful problems like debt, violence or threat from dealers.
“It is so important that families seek support and help if they are living with a loved one who is abusing alcohol or drugs,” she continued.
“Research shows that too often, relatives find coping with alcohol or drug abuse in the family very difficult. They don’t know what the right thing to do is.
Family Support Groups like the one planned for Mayo put the needs of the family first rather than the substance abuse and give people the skills they to make decisions that are right for their own situations.