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Connecting families with the resources they need.

Family support is a key element in successful outcomes for people using alcohol and/or other drugs. Family Drug Support emerged out of a desire to help families build the coping and resilience skills needed to stay involved when loved ones are using alcohol and/or other drugs. We want to be a catalyst for positive change, and since our beginnings in 2018, we’ve been driven by the same ideas we initially founded our non-profit organisation upon: support, hope, empowerment, and progress.


The Overarching Goal

That Aotearoa New Zealand recognises the role played by family/whānau and friends, and supports the needs of families and communities affected by the use of alcohol and/or other drugs.

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What We Do

We assist families and friends to deal with loved ones using alcohol and/or other drugs in a way that strengthens relationships and achieves positive outcomes.


Pauline Stewart: An Inspirational Driving Force

Dr Pauline Stewart set up Family Drug Support Aotearoa New Zealand in recognition of the many families trying to navigate the emotional difficulty of dependency.

A registered psychologist, Pauline has worked as a psychologist in the education sector and in private practice and has seen first-hand the struggle families/whānau go through when they have a loved one using alcohol and/or other drugs. With a huge need for family support but no nationwide organisation dedicated specifically to helping impacted family/whānau, she decided to set one up herself.


The high costs associated with private counselling are a barrier Pauline is trying to remove. The organisation relies on grants and donations to operate, and this money is used alongside a team of highly trained and experienced volunteers to subsidise the cost of delivering the 5-Step Programme to family members, as well as providing other services and resources.

Pauline wants Family Drug Support Aotearoa New Zealand to be the first port of call for families/whānau needing support, no matter where in the country they live. With a team of extraordinary volunteers and staff, Family Drug Support provides the 5-Step Programme, Single Session Consultations, a callback support line service, an online support group, and a wide range of resources.

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Family Support is a Key Element in Successful Outcomes

Family support is a key element in successful outcomes for people using alcohol and/or other drugs. Family members know the person they care about better than anyone else and want to stay involved for financial, emotional, physical and relational reasons. 


Many people using alcohol and/or other drugs do not get external help and rely on their family and friends for support. This can lead to family breakdowns due to the trauma associated with alcohol and/or other drug use, so building relationships back up again is very important as having family involved provides hope and that necessary support system.


The process of change can be very challenging for the person trying to stop using alcohol and/or other drugs. When family/whānau understand the stages of change people go through in their journey, they can continue to provide support even when change is challenging. For example, 80 percent of people who quit methamphetamine experience depression, so lapsing is really common. When families/whānau understand this, they are better equipped to continue supporting their loved ones through the lapse.

Families do the very best they can, with the best intentions, but it is incredibly hard to know what to do. Initially, many families cope by denying there is a problem and this can cause emotions such as anger, shame, blaming, and chronic sorrow. What can follow are rigid ultimatums, rescuing, attempting to control the situation, poor boundaries and brave faces. Many families talk of their experience as like 'walking on a tightrope' or 'walking on egg shells'.

If impacted family members are not looking after themselves, it’s really difficult to last the journey. Being able to share concealed stigmas with those who understand can result in increased self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression. It is so important to know that you are not alone.

Research tells us that family members who seek help, even just a listening ear, feel relieved to experience understanding and support. Getting support can positively impact their whole life, including work and other relationships, as well as positively impact their relationship with the person using alcohol and/or other drugs. It is a key element in successful outcomes for everyone involved.

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