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The impact of drinking, drug taking or gambling on family and friends

A new report by Adfam looks at the number of people negatively impacted by someone else’s drinking, drug taking or gambling and explores why we should be doing more to support this group.

The report, simply called ‘Overlooked’ examines Adfam’s latest research with YouGov and highlights the need for more recognition of the impacts on families and friends and includes recommendations on how to better support them.

Adfam is the only national charity tackling the effects of alcohol, drug use or gambling on family members and friends.

Their research shows that’s an estimated 5.5 million people in the UK are currently coping with a loved one’s drinking, drug taking or gambling. And in the majority of those cases people cope with a loved one’s drinking, drug use or gambling for many years

The report also looks at the pandemic’s impact on alcohol, drug or gambling problems. 37% said their loved one’s drinking, drug taking or gambling had increased during the pandemic and 12% said their loved one had relapsed.

However, 20% said that lockdown had a positive impact, with 13% sayng their loved one had either reduced their drinking/gambling/drug taking, 6% had turned a corner and 5% had been able to stop altogether.


The report provides four key recommendations:

  • Increase services to support children and adults affected by a loved one’s substance misuse or gambling
  • Ensure that where services are available, families and friends of people with a drug, alcohol or gambling problems are prioritised for identification and referral
  • Ensure that families and friends who have vital caring responsibilities are recognised and supported financially, emotionally and practically
  • Ensure that family members of people with drug, alcohol and gambling issues are included in all relevant Parliamentary Inquiries and policy making

Read the full ‘Overlooked’ report on the Adfam website (PDF, 3.1 MB)

Find out more

If alcohol is having a negative impact on your personal or professional relationships, there are some steps you can take.

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