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5-Step Method

What is the 5-Step Method?

In the 1980s the Addiction and the Family International Network, AFINet-UK recognised that the needs of family members had been largely misunderstood and ignored, and that there was very little help available to support them. This group, comprising a two-centre collaboration between the Cities of Bath/Bristol and Birmingham, incorporating some of the NHS and academic institutions in these cities, was inspired  to try and fill a clear, and obvious, gap in research and practice in this area. Therefore, they set to work on a research and development programme. From their research they developed the Stress-Strain-Coping-Support model which summarizes the experiences of family members who have a relative with a drug and/or alcohol problem. They have also worked over the last two decades to develop and test the ‘5-Step Method’, a brief psychosocial intervention to support family members in their own right who have a close relative with an alcohol or drug problem. The evaluation of the 5-Step Method has shown a reduction in the strain experienced by family members concerned and affected by a relative in their family who has developed a serious alcohol or drug problem. These gains have sometimes had a knock-on effect on other family members including both children in the family and the drug or alcohol using relative.

When did it become available?

Since 2011, AFINet-UK has worked extensively with the NFSN to develop and implement a strategy to roll-out training in the 5-Step Method throughout Ireland.  Between January and May of 2014 the NFSN trained 110 workers and volunteers in the 5-Step Method in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Louth and Kildare. On November 11th 2014, the NFSN hosted the 5-Step Method Conference, giving attendees the opportunity to learn more about the 5-Step Method and reflect on the work completed in Ireland to date. The NFSN has continued to roll-out training sessions in the 5-Step Method throughout 2015. 








Speakers at the5-Step Method Conference in November 2014 (From left to right): Ed Sipler (Step to Cope), Prof Richard Velleman (AFINet-UK), Gill Velleman (AFINet-UK), Lorna Templeton (AFINet-UK), Sadie Grace (NFSN), Megan O’Leary (NFSN).

Information for Family Members

The intervention itself is used with adult family members affected by a relative’s drug and/or alcohol problem, for example this may be a drug user’s partner, sibling, parent, grandparent or adult son/daughter. If you are a family member and would like to work with a service to cover the 5-Steps please call the NFSN on (01) 898 0148 and we can put you in touch with an appropriate service.

Information for Interested 5-Step Trainees

The NFSN 5-Step Method training programme is targeted towards workers and volunteers within services. The NFSN would like to encourage all professionals and volunteers who are in contact with family members affected by drugs and/or alcohol to undertake 5-step Method training. This would ensure that all family members no matter where they are living in Ireland would receive a high quality and consistent support service. Practitioners in the 5-Step Method can work in both addiction specific and generic family support services. Already a wide variety of services have participated in this training including family support workers and volunteers, drugs workers, HSE addiction counsellors, family resource centres, youth services, social workers and community based services.

Information for 5-Step Practitioners

If you have already been trained in the 5-Step Method, we hope that both you as a practitioner and the family members you work with are getting a lot from it. We are now at the point where we want to learn from the people on the ground who are using the intervention and from the family members who have received it. We cannot do this without your help and so we hope that you will work with us to gather the information we need. This information will form part of a research study that will be conducted by the AFINet-UK group to measure the effectiveness of the 5-Step Method intervention in Ireland and will be comparable to research completed in other countries around the world. 

Contact Us

National Family Support Network
5 Gardiner Row, Dublin 1, Ireland

Phone: +353 (01) 8980148
Fax: +353 (01) 8889628
Email: info@fsn.ie
Web: www.fsn.ie

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