GRANDPARENTS who “have put their lives on hold” because of family addictions are speaking out to raise awareness of lifeline support.
Last week they shared their heartbreaking stories, of the effect of caring for grandchildren because sons and daughters have had their lives ravaged by substance use, in a bid to highlight invaluable local support.
Before the conference in Chesterfield – organised by town charity Spoda and national cause Adfam – some spoke in confidence to the Derbyshire Times.
One had taken in a granddaughter after she was found neglected, begging door-to-door for food, another gave up work as she fought to get a struggling grandson the right educational help.
All had stepped in to give a caring role again at a time they would normally be looking at retirement.
“It was of the most harrowing experiences of my life to see that that little newborn baby hooked up to all these pipes and wires, jumping all over the place as she withdrew from heroin because her mum had taken it,” said one grandad.
Stigma often comes with having a drug user in the family and tomorrow’s event aims to challenge that.
Spoda also helps relatives with practical support, such as wading through red tape to secure care orders or claiming the correct financial support, when they take on childcare because of parental substance use.
Immense emotional harm, complex multiple needs, detachment and the devastation of family units can be caused by such situations.
Said one grandma: “I came to Spoda eight years ago. It was like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“You talk to people in the same position and realise you are not alone.
“There is nothing you can’t say – Spoda saved my life.”
The community information day also aimed to get agencies thinking about their new role as Government changes mean councils now have responsibilities for drug treatment services, and make that work more efficient.
If you are a grandparent or kin carer who is caring or concerned for a child because of substance use call Spoda free on 0800 068 5718.
Have you been affected by a relative’s drug or drink abuse? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.