Many thanks to Jeff from Insight/Dovetail for sharing the resources for this week’s In the Vault. This week we showcase Methamphetamine – Factsheet for Families. This factsheet outlines that there is no one way or right way for families to respond to those who are using ‘ice’.  Rather it offers realistic advice as to how to respond to those close who are using ice and potentially behaving in ways that confront those around them.

In the Vault: Facts for Families

The discovery of ice usage for family members concerned about a loved one is often confronting and many stories have emerged of violent behaviours and other symptoms of use that impact on family members including partners and children.  For some families the addiction of parents lead grandparents to step up to the plate in parenting their children’s children.  Hence, all family members including grandparents are relevant in this conversation.

It is important to remember that using methamphetamine or ‘ice’ doesn’t mean addiction or major life and family impacts.  For the vast majority of those who use ice, usage is irregular and sporadic and has little impact on the lives of users themselves or those around them. Having said that there is both research and anecdotal evidence to state that in Australia ice is a growing issue and a response is necessary.  Last week we reported on the National Ice Taskforce Response to which Queensland is an active party.  This week we report on a Queensland initiative with regard to resources and training for professionals and others interested in learning how best to support those using ice.

Last year Insight Alcohol and other drug training and workforce development Queensland produced Meth Check, a range of free methamphetamine resources for Queensland based health workers who engage with people who use methamphetamine.  These resources include fact sheets, booklets, flowcharts and a free e-learning package.

This week In the Vault we showcase Methamphetamine – Factsheet for Families. This factsheet outlines that there is no one way or right way for families to respond to those who are using ‘ice’.  Rather it offers realistic advice as to how to respond to those close who are using ice and potentially behaving in ways that confront those around them.

It also offers general information about methamphetamine including the effects on users as well as the type of assistance available such as counselling, detoxification and withdrawal and what to expect from such options.

Tips for families in coping with and responding to a family member using ice are also offered.  These include:

Try not to panic. Not everyone who uses the drug will develop a problem.  You may feel angry, upset, scared or helpless. This is normal. Get the facts and be informed. Choose reputable sources for drug information (e.g. government websites or established alcohol and drug organisations).  Try talking with the person when they are not ‘high’ or ‘coming-down’. Maintain open and honest communication. Ask questions. Listen actively.

Let the person know how their meth use is impacting you. Use “I” statements, rather than “you” statements. Explain your concerns in a calm and clear way. Accept that they may not agree with you. Have clear boundaries about what is and what is not OK in your house, space and relationship with realistic, workable consequences.  Separate what is about the meth use, and what isn’t.

Responding to complications such as physical and mental health complications are also highlighted. How to support change and those who don’t want assistance is also part of the important information imparted.  As is self-care.  How to care for those who care for family members struggling with this issue is as important as supporting those with the addiction.

View the fact sheet for families.