Next of kin of addicts
Regarding the care for chronically ill people, there is increasing awareness of the burden on and need for specific support of their partners, parents, adult children and/or siblings. It is assumed that the next of kin of addicts (or problematic alcohol/drug users) are also in need of specific support. However, generally there is only volunteer aid for next of kin of addicts, and their needs for support. Therefore in this article we will discuss 1) what the policy and vision of addiction care providers is, regarding the support of next of kin of addicts 2) what the actual offer of support is by these providers and 3) how next of kin experience these different kinds of support. Major problem in this field is that next of kin are usually not (yet) aware of the fact that they themselves need help and support. When they approach addiction care providers they ask for help for the addict, not for themselves. This is true even when next of kin is participating in e.g. a support group. It is important that the specific problems experienced by next of kin are examined and taken seriously, separate from those of the addicted client. Many addiction care providers have no written policy regarding the support of next of kin that focuses specifically on the next of kin (rather than on the addict). Some providers are currently considering the possibilities, but the subject has a low priority. In general, in the offer to the next of kin, no distinction is made in the type of addiction or the primary relationship between the ‘volunteer’ and addict.
Keywords: next of kin, addicts, alcohol/drug users, addiction care