A new-look program in Warrnambool is helping families and friends of people dealing with alcohol and other drug issues.

Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) is supporting the Families/Partners and Friends support program, which is designed to show loved ones they are not alone in caring for a person with AOD issues.

WRAD operations manager Mark Powell said supporting a loved one with addiction could be challenging, stressful and isolating.

“We see families and friends go through significant change, as do their loved ones with addiction,” he said. “It can be difficult not only because of the behaviours associated with addiction but with the stigma towards people who use substances and sometimes the blame that is inappropriately put onto families,” he said.

Mr Powell said a group setting gave members an opportunity to share information, experiences and ideas.

“It provides a safe place where people can talk about strategies that have or haven’t worked and start to form a way of dealing with their loved one’s addiction,” he said.

“There is an important message to all families, partners and friends that you didn’t cause it, you can’t cure it, you can’t control it but you can learn to cope with it.”

Mr Powell said carers need to know they are not alone. “It’s far more common than people realise but there’s no need to suffer in silence and isolation.”

The group will meet on the third Monday of each month at the Archie Graham Centre when it reopens, but in the meantime, meetings are being held via Zoom.

People interested in participating in the Families/Partners and Friends group can contact Mr Powell at WRAD on 1300 009723.

WRAD also runs a SMART recovery group via zoom and to register visit https://smartrecoveryaustralia.com.au/online-smart-recovery-meetings-2/.