Research & Evidence Supporting the Belief that support for families is needed and The Blossome Community model will work

People who are subjected to daily stressors such as the care of a person suffering from addiction can find it very challenging and emotionally and physically draining. Additionally the isolation from the judging and stigma surrounding the disease causes an exacerbation of the problem and mental and physical wellbeing deteriorates. Coping mechanisms may be used which can be detrimental to the person and situation and not helpful in creating change within the system.

Adult family members and carers of dependent drug users: prevalence, social cost, resource savings and treatment responses. View the report

Research around the world has begun to highlight a group of carers that are disproportionately burdened over and above other carer groups. This hidden group are carers of family members or friends who are suffering from addiction and are in community services. 

Manthorpe, J. et al. (2015). Supportive practice with carers of people with substance misuse problems.  “While there is increased recognition of the role of family carers in supporting adults with social care needs, some groups of carers are overlooked or hidden from professional view. Carers of people with substance misuse problems may be among this group since they are at risk of feeling guilty and stigmatised; targeting and eligibility criteria may concentrate professionals’ activities on people with high levels of need for practical support and there may be complex family dynamics where the role of carer does not fit traditional models.” View the report. 

Mannelli P. (2013). The burden of caring: drug users & their families “…. high rates of subjective and objective burden, if compared across cultural boundaries and socio-economic conditions, or with different psychiatric diseases.” 

“… analysis has traditionally been limited to relatives of individuals with mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disease, or dementia, and investigations on drug and alcohol use have been slowly following the path.”View the report 

Sharma et al. (2019). Study of family burden in substance dependence “Majority of caretakers had moderate objective burden (65.3%) and severe subjective burden (74%). Objective burden was more in areas of “financial burden” and “disruption of routine activities.” Objective burden had correlation (P < 0.05) with monthly family income, monthly expenses on substance, number and type of substances, treatment history, sex and type of caretaker.” View the report.

 

Cultivation of self-compassion for the wellbeing of people has a huge evidence base. An overview of the science and research can be found here.

Learning self-compassion has been empirically proven to:

  • Increase self-compassion and self-empathy
  • Increased self-care
  • Increase resilience
  • Increased confidence
  • Increase emotional wellbeing
  • Decrease isolation
  • Decrease negative emotions such as anxiety and depression
  • Decrease negative self talk (aka inner critic)

Therefore undertaking the Blossome Cultivating Self-compassion program with the peer support of the Blossome Community provides the participants with the tools they need to maintain their own wellbeing enabling the possibility of change in the system.

Further evidence of the positive impacts of self-compassion can be found here:

Soares, A. J., Ferreira, G., & Graça Pereira, M. (2016). Depression, distress, burden and social support in caregivers of active versus abstinent addicts. Addiction Research & Theory, 24(6), 483-489. ‘According to the results, caregivers of addicts would benefit from interventions that increase social support, and decrease burden, depression and distress, particularly, those who care for non-abstinent family members.’ Download here 

Runyan, C. N., Hewitt, A. L., Martin, S. A., & Mullin, D. (2017). Confronting the new epidemic: Integrated care for opioid use disorders. Families, Systems, & Health, 35(2), 248. ‘The conference ended with an emphasis on the importance of and strategies for self-care among caregivers working with this population and their families.’ View the Abstract 

Coulombe, S., Krzesni, D. A., Jones, S., & Hébert Boyd, M. (2018). Supporting Family Caregivers of People Living With Mental Health, Addiction, and Other Issues: Narrative Review of Canadian and International Intervention Studies  ‘Providing care for a family member with mental health issues can negatively impact one’s wellbeing. Interventions to support family caregivers have the potential to reduce stress and depressive symptoms, and to improve overall wellbeing.’View the Abstract and references 

Diggory, K., & Reeves, A. (2022). ‘Permission to be kind to myself’. The experiences of informal carers of those with a life-limiting or terminal illness of a brief self-compassion-based self-care intervention. Progress in Palliative Care, 30(3), 149-157. ‘The findings highlight that a brief self-compassion intervention can have a positive impact on carers reported well-being through developing a kindlier internal orientation and locating a permission to allow themselves to practice an intentional self-care.’ Read the Full article

Neff, K. D., et al. (2020). Caring for others without losing yourself: An adaptation of the Mindful Self‐Compassion Program for Healthcare Communities. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76(9), 1543-1562. ‘effective way to increase self‐compassion, enhance wellbeing, and reduce burnout for healthcare professionals.’  Read the Full article

Lloyd, J., Muers, J., Patterson, T. G., & Marczak, M. (2019). Self-compassion, coping strategies, and caregiver burden in caregivers of people with dementia. Clinical gerontologist, 42(1), 47-59. ‘Caregivers with higher levels of self-compassion report lower levels of burden and this is at least partly due to the use of less dysfunctional coping strategies.’  Read the Full article 

Matthews, S. (2019). Self-stigma and addiction. In The stigma of addiction: An essential guide (pp. 5-32). Cham: Springer International Publishing.  A second source of self-stigma is the private shame that individuals feel based on accurate recognition of their situation. This may generate the motivation to heal but typically only when it occurs in a supportive context where public stigma is absent and acceptance by others is present. With the barrier of public stigma removed, or at least lowered, the individual with SUDs will stop self-stigmatising based on the damaging mythology around addiction and so may be given the support he or she needs for self-compassion, and in particular self-trust, in order to recover.  Read the full article