GDAS believes that the families and loved ones of people who use substances including alcohol need as much support as the substance user themselves. This can include direct family, carers, neighbours, friends, support staff and anyone else in the network around the person affected. We offer comprehensive therapeutic packages to families, friends and carers that include:

  • Brief Advice, advocacy and signposting to other services 
  • Telephone advice and support 
  • Bibliotherapy (self help manuals) 
  • PACT (parent and carer training) 
  • Structured counselling 
  • Peer support and mutual aid 
  • Care co-ordination and case management.

Many family and carers of substance users often feel isolated and do not know where to turn for help. We understand that there are many reasons why family and carers access our support including:

  • Improve you own drug and alcohol awareness
  • Understand triggers and patterns of substance misuse, lapse and relapse.
  • Explore feelings of blame and guilt
  • Understand the behaviours associated with substance misuse.
  • Explore and relate to the feelings of dysfunctionality that families and those affected by substance misuse can experience.
  • Break down the stigma, and have a ‘safe space’ to discuss actions and behaviours.
  • Be treated with respect and a non- judgemental approach to your thoughts, actions and decisions.
  • Hear validation that it ‘is ok’ to support or not to offer support for your loved one’s substance use.
  • Utilise help and assistance with financial difficulties and be signposted to relevant supporting agencies.
  • Explore safety planning and support for domestic abuse.
  • Learn to gain control over your daily activities.
  • Build trust with a support network and meet peers who have experienced similar activities.
  • Improve your self care and relationships with other family members.
  • Learn about communication techniques and skills that can be used to encourage the substance user into treatment.
  • Access food bank vouchers and other social care support.
  • Assistance with form filling and life skills.


GDAS is open to any resident aged over 18 years (including those who are homeless) within Gwent, or those who are registered to a GP within the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
We understand that substance misuse will affect all ages within the family unit. GDAS recognises the important of safeguarding procedures to ensure the best possible support packages are in place working closely with children and young people’s services and dedicated carer support agencies.

Brief Interventions

Brief Interventions will normally be offered for 1-3 sessions. Areas that may be covered in Brief Interventions include but are not limited to:

  • Information and advice
  • Crisis management
  • Looking at where we are now, and where you want to be (base line outcome measurement)
  • Initial assessment
  • Review treatment options and induction
  • Booster sessions for those people who have left services and just want a little bit extra.
  • Ventilation
  • Finding mutual aid and peer support.
  • Referral on and signposting

Assessment and Care Planning

Family and Carer Assessment is specific to the needs and wellbeing of those affected by substance misuse, but also takes into account some of the information available in relation to the substance misuser themselves.

Assessment for Family and Carers is an ongoing assessment process and integrated into the GDAS service to offer a holistic approach to wellbeing. This will cover areas such as:

  • Life Audit / Social Functioning
  • What is the situation now? For the substance user, and for the Family or Carer. Level of motivation, engagement in treatment etc.
  • Family Mapping
  • Outcome options
  • Domestic Abuse
  • Parental Assessment
  • Risk Assessment – self harm and overdose, violence and aggression, risk of neglect.
  • Cultural awareness
  • Mental health screening
  • Housing, finance and employment status
  • Recovery capitol


All service users who enter structured treatment will have a care plan completed that takes into account whole family needs. Family and Carers will be encouraged to take a copy of their care plan home, and to share with other agencies that may also be supporting them.

PACT – Parent and Carer Training

PACT is a structured program that is designed to teach the Family and Carer skills to encourage a substance user into treatment, support a substance user while in treatment and prepare a substance user for detoxification. Where literacy or numeracy is a barrier to engaging in PACT there is a desire to complete the program, sessions will be individually tailored to meet your needs.

The PACT program also focuses on you as an individual and gives you tools and communication skills to encourage positive self care and behaviour changes for your own wellbeing. PACT is a worksheet based program that requires homework tasks and commitment from you to engage in role rehearsal and practicing of skills with your loved one.

Mutual Aid / Peer Support

Mutual Aid or peer support groups are offered throughout Gwent for Family and Carers. Service users may access these groups independently of structured treatment or as additional support during their structured interventions or as part of their sustained recovery.
GDAS offers SMART recovery Family and Friends Program. This is an evidence based program to support individuals struggling with a loved one’s addiction. It is based on tools from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy in combination with CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training). For more details and information please speak to a GDAS Family and Carer Staff members or visit


General counselling will be offered to Family and Carers for areas not addressed via PACT. Up to 6 sessions of structured counselling, and then a review carried out before any additional counselling sessions are arranged. If a need for more long term counselling work is identified then GDAS will ensure that a referral to an external specialist agency is agreed.

Case Management

GDAS recognises that some service users accessing Family and Carer support may have developed chaotic, harmful and destabilised lifestyles that can act as a significant barrier to engaging in structured treatment. This may be a direct result of their involvement with a loved one’s substance use, or as a consequence over many years and the isolation imposed on them by other supporting networks. Case management will be offered to care co-ordinate between supporting agencies, manage safeguarding risks and complex needs while working towards the long term goals and outcomes determined by the Family member and Carer.

Recovery and Aftercare Services

As a GDAS service user, Family and Carers will be eligible for the same recovery support and Aftercare services that substance users may access examples include:

  • Life skills
  • Education and training
  • Volunteering
  • Peer Support
  • Diversionary Activities

Access to Clinical Services

GDAS recognises that accessing health care services such as sexual health screening, BBV and family planning can all be influenced by the stigma and isolation that being involved with substance misuse often carries.

We recognise that similar barriers to engagement in health and wellbeing services for substance users can affect their Family and Carers including those associated with cultural and financial isolation, lack of service availability awareness and additional secondary exposure to risk taking behaviour. Family and carers are eligible for clinical support from our specialist team throughout their engagement with GDAS.

Service User Involvement

Family and Carers are invited to attend The Voice (an independent consultancy and advocacy group) within Gwent. You can also get involved with consultations, volunteering, and service development through GDAS transitional champions, which include current Family and Carer service users.
If you would like to know more about service user involvement please speak to a GDAS staff member or volunteer, or contact The Voice on 01633 546 363 or email