A charity has revealed an increased demand in its services for people struggling with alcohol misuse.
PROPS North East helps around 600 families a year across North Tyneside and Newcastle who have a relative battling addictions – with more than 90 per cent reporting a positive outcome.
After initially being set up in 1997 by a group of mothers concerned about the impact of heroin on their families and communities, officials say the biggest issue now is alcohol – especially in North Tyneside.
The charity supports the individual involved in substance misuse and their families, putting together a plan as well as one-on-one help.
Chief executive Claire Robinson said: “There is a lot of attention around the drug Spice at the minute but the real problem in our society is alcohol.
“The North East is one of the worst areas in the country for health and inequalities then if you add alcohol into the mix it is even worse.
“Alcohol is socially acceptable even though we know the harm it causes.”
She added: “When someone is using drugs it is not just the person affected, it is the entire family.
“Addictive behaviour can be really traumatic for families who desperately care for their loved ones and feel powerless to help them.
“When families turn to us it is when they have tried everything possible within their own resources. PROPS provides lots of different support to help families.
“We help them regain control of their own life.”
“We provide a listening ear but also to help families develop the skills they need to solve problems. We help them understand their loved one’s behaviour, rebuild relationships.
“In the North East there are over 100 families affected by alcohol misuse but that is likely to be an underestimate, we only see the tip of the iceberg.
“There is so much shame associated with becoming dependant on substances or being a parent or partner of someone who is that it stops people from reaching out to get the support they need.
“We like to let families and communities know they are not alone, there are thousands of other families living in similar circumstances and there is help and support available.”
PROPS, which has Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell among its patrons, spends on average between six months and a year working with families, providing the skills they need to help turn their lives around.
Claire also praised Geordie TV personality Ant McPartlin for saying he was getting help for his addition to painkillers and alcohol.
She said: “When you see someone like Ant looking for help and speaking about his addiction, I’m hoping he’s going to give other people who are struggling the motivation to do the same.
“We have this stereotypical image that addiction is grimy and mostly the homeless but we work with all family backgrounds across North Tyneside and Newcastle.
“Ant has been really brave and taken control of his situation. What we need to remember is there is a family and friends behind him who love him and support him.”
PROPS employs 17 people and two years ago received funding from Children in Need to employ a person in North Tyneside supporting children who have a parent battling an addiction.
Claire said: “There is a demand for this service, so much so we have a waiting list.
“We see a lot of referrals coming through from schools. We help to give the young person a voice and meet other young people in similar situations.
“The average age of the children we work with is 13 to 15.”
For further information on support with substance abuse, please visit www.newcastleprops.org.uk or call 0191 226 3440