Supporting families impacted by substance abuse – an update from the National Family Support Network

The National Family Support Network supports families who are impacted by effects of substance abuse within the family. Here are a few extracts from their latest newsletter. You can find the full newsletter on their website here

Updated list of Nominated Garda Inspectors now available

We now have the latest, most up to date list of nominated Garda Inspectors trained in Drug Related Intimidation Reporting Programme across Ireland. These inspectors are available to meet with and advise people affected by drug related intimidation in both an informal and formal capacity, providing a much needed resource for families in a very difficult position. .

If your family or a member of your family is experiencing drug related intimidation you can contact Detective Inspector Pat O’Donnell at Letterkenny Garda Station on 074 9167100

Policy Work

National Drug Strategy
In the latest meeting of the strategy, an update was given from on Nitroxide, as cases of young people using this substance rise. Nitroxide, or ‘laughing gas’, can be very risky to use, especially in terms of brain development for younger people. The HSE encourage parents who want to talk to their children about Nitroxide or any other drug to use their Parent’s Guide available at and to contact the National Family Support Network for support.

Kinship Care
Supporting families caring for children/young people as a result of parental substance misuse has always been a key issue for NFSN. We have been working with new initiative – Kinship Care Ireland – since 2018 to try and improve supports for families. We are so excited to share the news that Kinship Care Ireland have been supported by Tusla to resource a dedicated development worker for the project. This is a huge step forward for kinship carers in Ireland and we will continue to update you when this support is up and running.

National Family Support Network Strategic Plan
If you attended our Annual Work Conference in November of last year you will remember that we were asking all attendees to input into our new strategic plan. We asked you to tell us what the most important issues in family support are and what we should focus on for the next five years. Families raised issues such as the need to have accessible, resourced and evidence-based supports, and supports for issues such as drug related intimidation, dual diagnosis and bereavement among other issues. We are so grateful for this feedback and are using it to write our next plan. We will keep you posted!

DRIVE (Drug Related Intimidation and Violence Engagement) is a new initiative and includes local and regional Drug Action Task Forces, HSE, Gardai, Probation Services, Voluntary Service Providers, Service User representatives and Family Support representatives. The project hopes to feed into the Youth Justice Strategy and to do this has created a short survey to get your viewpoints on young people and drug related intimidation. The link for the survey is –

As you might suspect training events stopped during the start of the lockdown. However, the Education and Outreach Officer worked closely with affiliated facilitators, external trainers and the rest of the NFSN team to start turning our current face to face training events into online training events. The positive response to this approach to training has been encouraging and we feel that it will actually increase the accessibility of our training across the entire network – whereas before practitioners and services who were based further away from Dublin have not had as much opportunity to attend trainings as those closer to major cities. Below is a brief update on all of the trainings and information sessions we currently offer.

5-Step Method

Unsurprisingly we have heard great reports about how well the 5-Step Method works over phone and video calls. This has meant we are working harder than ever to increase the availability of this training through an online format. We are in the process of running a couple of pilot sessions to ensure that participants will get as much from online delivery as face to face. We are also going to be running some shorter refresher courses which will focus on the 5 steps. This refresher course will be aimed at people who have been accredited but might not have used the method much, or those who have not come for accreditation yet and want to have a more focused session to support their accreditation process.

Non-Violent Resistance

We have been working with our external partners in NVR Ireland about delivering NVR Training as an online session. NVR is already offered by several practitioners on Parentline and lends well to being delivered over the phone or through video call. Eileen Lauster from NVR Ireland is working on some other sessions for people in different positions, such as managers of services, members of the Gardaí or family members in groups. These will all focus on NVR but will have a different focus depending on the group.

Young Person’s Support Programme

Before lockdown we were in touch with some rural services, such as KDYS, who were already offering the YPSP on a 1:1 approach through phone and video format. There’s no denying that younger people are much more comfortable with using technology for a lot more than previous generations have been which increased accessibility to this programme and are excited to see how it continues to develop.

Read more of the newsletter at


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