There has been much in the media recently about the needs of carers. One group which falls into this category is made up of those members of families who have to cope with another family member's addiction. These people may be adults, adolescents or children.
Their distress, although measurable, is usually unrecognised for what it is or where it comes from. As a result, the health service incurs ongoing costs in treating a range of worsening symptoms rather than addressing the real problem.
GPs may not even think to ask the question: is someone close to you abusing alcohol or drugs?
There are now evidence-based, low-cost interventions which make a significant lasting impact on the health of these carers. This in turn often has a beneficial effect on the alcohol or drug-dependent family member, and indeed on the NHS purse.