Empowering Lives Through Lived Experience

Background and Initial Contact

Mary’s son lost his life due to a heroin addiction. She’d been through decades of struggles with her daughter’s drug addiction, which has lasted over 30 years, and her grandson used cocaine while living with her. She provided her daughter with money to pay for drugs, causing significant financial losses and strained relationships within the family. Mary reached a breaking point eventually leading her doctor to refer her to DrugFAM.

“Over 30 years, my daughter’s drug addiction persisted, and despite my misguided love, I enabled her financially, leading to losses, blacklisted credit score, and even becoming a guarantor and settling her unpaid rent. Supporting her and her three children financially cost me over £50k and resulted in losing my house and relationship.

Amidst this harrowing journey, I faced numerous episodes of trauma, panic attacks, sleeplessness, and suicidal thoughts. The continuous pain from an accident, my daughter’s outbursts in a car park and my grandson’s drug use at home brought me to a breaking point. Recognizing the severity of the situation, a doctor advised me to contact DrugFAM.”

Experience with DrugFAM’s Services

Upon discovering DrugFAM, Mary initially felt ashamed and guilty, believing that her daughter’s addiction was somehow her fault. However, DrugFAM’s helpline and support group became her lifeline. DrugFAM helped Mary understand the nature of addiction, the hold drugs have on people, and how to establish healthy boundaries. She learned to recognise that her family’s choices were not her responsibility and that she should not bear the guilt for her family’s actions.

“Initially, I felt ashamed and embarrassed, burdened by guilt, believing it was my fault that my loved ones were trapped in the clutches of addiction. However, seeking help from DrugFAM’s helpline and support group marked a turning point in my life. Through their guidance, I gained profound insights into the effects of drugs and their powerful hold on individuals. I learned the importance of setting boundaries and realized that, out of misguided love, I had been enabling my daughter for years, futilely attempting to fix her struggles while shouldering immense guilt. DrugFAM gave me a crucial understanding: it was their guilt to bear, not mine.”

Journey of Support and Empowerment

Throughout her journey with DrugFAM, Mary experienced significant breakthroughs. For the first time, she began prioritising self-care without feeling guilty. Engaging in activities like getting a dog and having a memory box for her deceased son became sources of healing and strength. DrugFAM taught her the importance of taking time and recharging her batteries. She learned to accept that she could not change her daughter but could support her own well-being.

“I have embarked on an unprecedented journey of self-care, unburdened by guilt, and finally allowing myself the time I deserve. I even adopted a dog, gibing me newfound companionship and healing. Creating a memory box for my beloved departed son has been a source of solace, connecting me with compassionate individuals who truly understand the pain of loss and providing mutual courage and strength. DrugFAM has been instrumental in guiding me to prioritize self-care, reassuring me that stepping back and recharging my own batteries is acceptable. The fog that once clouded my perspective has lifted, allowing me to see my daughter’s addiction more clearly. Though I continue to love her, I now comprehend that I cannot change her, as she does not seek change.

Each day remains a struggle, but I have evolved into a different person. My nights are no longer tormented by guilt, and I find peace in my heart. The support I received from DrugFAM feels like a warm, comforting, and reassuring embrace. Understanding that it is not my guilt to bear but that of those affected by addiction has been transformative.

My first call with DrugFAM proved more beneficial than six months of counselling, equipping me with knowledge about drugs and their effects, setting boundaries, and addressing the complexities of addiction. In this journey, I found solace in Liz’s book (Mum Will You Lend Me £20?), realizing that I am not alone, surrounded by others who share similar experiences and understand our challenges.”

Transition to Volunteering

Inspired by her transformation through DrugFAM’s support, Mary volunteered on the helpline. With three months of training, including IT skills, role-playing, writing exercises, and shadowing other calls, Mary transitioned from a client to a volunteer. Her desire to give others hope and help them understand that recovery is possible motivated her to take up this role.

“I am well-acquainted with the challenges of bereavement and addiction, and now, I aspire to inspire others by showing them that there is hope beyond these struggles. My ultimate goal is to give people hope and let them know they can overcome adversity.

As a volunteer, I continue to support individuals in their recovery journey. Through this work, I gain a deeper appreciation of how far I have come on my journey. Although some days may be challenging, being part of the helpline reinforces my progress and reminds me of the positive impact I am making in the lives of others.”

Roles and Contributions as a Volunteer

As a volunteer, Mary dedicates two to three hours twice a week to the helpline, supporting families affected by their oved one’s addiction. Her personal experiences and understanding make a significant impact on those she speaks with.

“Devoting two to three hours twice a week to the helpline, I connect with individuals seeking support. My conversations with these people make a profound difference in their lives. One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering is knowing that my lived experience enables me to understand their struggles truly.

In one particularly heartwarming instance, a woman in a desperate state expressed that without the support she received, she wasn’t sure she would still be here today. Such testimonies remind me of the immense value and impact of the helpline, reinforcing my commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of others.”

Personal Reflections

Looking back at her journey, Mary sees a remarkable transformation. She is no longer lost in the challenges of her loved one’s addiction. Through volunteering, she finds reassurance that she is not alone, and the charity’s work changes lives positively. Establishing boundaries has empowered her, providing more control over her life.

“Before seeking support from DrugFAM, I was engulfed in the chaos of my loved one’s addiction, feeling like I was drowning in their struggles. However, through the guidance and care I received, I am gradually reclaiming my sense of self and starting to feel like my old self again. DrugFAM’s transformative impact is evident in the lives of countless individuals, including myself. The support and understanding they provide change people’s lives for the better. Establishing boundaries has been empowering, giving me back a sense of control over my life. It allowed me to step away from the horrendous lifestyle that wasn’t my choice and focus on my well-being.

Participating in the DrugFAM support groups has reassured me that I am not alone. Knowing that many others are in the same boat, facing similar challenges, offers a sense of camaraderie and community. While I have transitioned into a volunteer role, I am grateful that I can still seek help and be reassured that I am considered both a volunteer and a client if I ever need the services again. DrugFAM’s unwavering support remains available whenever I require it.”

Impact and Recommendations

Mary perceives her volunteer work as profoundly impactful. Her recommendation to others seeking support from the charity is to reach out and talk to someone. Connecting with others and understanding the nature of addiction can be highly beneficial. She emphasizes that individuals cannot fix their loved ones and should focus on self-care and supporting their loved ones in their recovery journey.

“Whether it’s picking up the phone, speaking to someone, or sending an email, the more you talk, the more you understand, and that’s what truly helps you heal. DrugFAM’s support is available 365 days a year, assuring you that you are not alone in your struggles. One of the most profound realizations I’ve gained is that you cannot fix your loved ones; they must embark on their path to healing and recovery. While it may be challenging to accept, focusing on your well-being and letting them take responsibility for their lives is essential.

No matter your age or circumstances, it’s never too late to change your life. Even at 75, I have experienced transformation and newfound hope through DrugFAM’s support. Their compassionate guidance has shown me that it’s never too late to seek help and begin a journey of healing and personal growth.”


In conclusion, Mary’s story showcases the transformative power of DrugFAM’s support in the life of a client who eventually became a volunteer. Through DrugFAM’s services, Mary learned to navigate the challenges of addiction and its impact on families. By empowering herself, she now dedicates her time to empowering others, offering hope and understanding to people in similar situations. DrugFAM’s dedication to supporting families affected by harmful use of alcohol, drugs or gambling has positively changed countless lives, including that of this client turned volunteer.

“DrugFAM has been a beacon of hope, providing transformative support and understanding that has changed my life forever.”

Join DrugFAM's Volunteer Team

Volunteer Roles: Join us in Making a Difference

At DrugFAM, we offer diverse and meaningful volunteer roles that allow you to directly impact the lives of families, carers, and friends affected by their loved one’s addiction. Each volunteer role is designed to utilise your unique skills and interests while contributing to our mission of providing essential support and resources to those in need. Join our team and discover the volunteer role that resonates with you.

Support Group Volunteer

One of the key parts of DrugFAM’s services are our video support groups.  The groups offer a safe place for people who have a loved one who misuses drugs, alcohol or gambling to share their experiences and find the strength to move forward with their lives through the support of others in similar situations.

We are looking for passionate dedicated volunteers to help our Group Leaders to facilitate our support groups.  Without our group volunteers we would be unable to run many of our groups.

You will be fully trained over a four week period (on average) to give you the confidence and knowledge to be able to attend a group meeting and take notes that you will then copy into our client database at the end of the meeting. 

Our expectation is that you make a commitment of two and a half hours one evening a week (two hours to attend the group meeting and thirty minutes maximum to input your notes into the database).

To apply please complete and submit an application form (link below) after which you will be invited to an informal video interview.

Helpline Volunteer

DrugFAM’s key service is our helpline, which is a vital source of support for many of our clients.  The helpline is available 7 days a week between 9am and 9pm. We are looking for passionate dedicated volunteers to take Helpline calls and engage with people in need of empathy and understanding. 

You will be fully trained over a three month period (on average) to build up your confidence and knowledge. You’ll be required to understand our policies and procedures, trained in basic counselling and listening skills using case studies, role play,  course work and listening into calls between a client and a member of staff.  You will then take calls with our  trainer listening followed by solo calls and the ability to discuss afterwards. Once you and the trainer are confident, you will be signed off and provided with ongoing mentoring and support.

Our expectation is that you make a commitment of at least one two hour shift every week either during the day, evening or weekend. We appreciate that this will vary due to work commitments, family life and holidays but to do less isn’t productive for  the client or for you. Where possible you should attend  our monthly meetings  and ongoing training.

To apply please complete and submit an application form (link below)  after which you will be invited to an informal video interview. 

Operations & Administration Volunteer

We are always looking for people to help with the smooth running of the charity.  We are grateful for any time you might be able to spare to work on a variety of ongoing and ad hoc projects and pieces of work. 

If you are interested in this type of volunteering please complete and submit an application form (link below) after which you will be invited to an informal video meeting to discuss.


DrugFAM is looking for committed individuals to expand our range of trustee skills. We require motivated, committed and active people who have a proven success in their field. Trustees are expected to contribute to the Board by supporting strategic direction, strategic evaluation and analysis and providing overall effective leadership. The trustee role is also accountable to ensuring the administration and financial stability of the charity.

If you are interested in having a conversation to learn more and explore your suitability for the role please complete and submit an application form (link below) after which you will be invited to an informal video meeting.

Join DrugFAM's Volunteer Team

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