Family Drug Support Australia
Support Line: 1300 368 186
(available 24 hours 7 days a week)

FDS Media Releases

Research Uncovers Stigma Facing Families With Drug And Alcohol Problems - 23 July 2016

Research launched to mark International Drug Remembrance Days around Australia on Saturday 23rd July 2016

On the eve of the International Drug Remembrance Day, new research has revealed the depth of stigma faced by families dealing with drug and alcohol problems. The research commissioned by Family Drug Support found that half of all people would hide a family member’s drug or alcohol problems from their own friends.

The research found that the sense of shame is highest in the older generations with 57% of over 55’s saying they would hide the issue of a drug or alcohol dependent family member. Additionally, men are also more likely to keep problems secret; 53% would keep quiet compared to 48% of women.

Founder of Family Drug Support, Tony Trimingham commented, “Unfortunately many people feel shame having a drug or alcohol dependent family member and this serves to stop them from seeking the support and assistance they need. My concern is that we are seeing overdose deaths increase each year and people hiding what is happening only increases the risk that families could lose those they care for to drugs. Through our work we aim to destigmatise drug and alcohol problems and reinforce the message that drug-related harms and deaths do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, money or any other factors and most importantly, that support and assistance is available.”

Family Drug Support is the only national service providing 24-hour support for families impacted by others drug use. The organisation will mark the 19th Annual International Remembrance Day on 23rd July with a ceremony and supper to bring together families of those who have lost family members to accidental overdose, drug-related suicide and other drug related deaths.

The Sydney ceremony, one of 5 taking place across four states, will be led by Rev Bill Crews, CEO and Founder of the Exodus Foundation charity with a range of guest speeches including some from family members. The simple but highly symbolic ceremony will enable families to light a candle, reflect and remember those they have lost.

The ceremonies are more important than ever as the latest official figures available reveal that around 1,400 people die annually from drug-related causes (1) and this figure is projected to rise significantly. That equates to almost 4 people a day every day of the year. FDS also estimates that there are over 75,000 drug related ambulance call-outs happening around the country each year (2) where families have to cope with the realisation that they may become yet another tragic statistic in the rising tide of drug and alcohol related deaths affecting our communities.

Tony Trimingham expanded, “We want people to know they can use the ceremony as a chance to simply reflect quietly, or they can talk to other families at the informal supper afterwards. We will also invite families to join a chain-link where they can attach a padlock engraved with details of those they have lost.”

Families wishing to participate in the chain-link may bring their own padlock or these can be arranged by contacting Family Drug Support Head Office on (02) 4782 9222 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 10th July.

6pm, Saturday 23rd July at Ashfield Uniting Church, 
180 Liverpool Road, Ashfield 

Other key findings from the research:

  • 54% of people in metro Sydney would hide a family member’s drug or alcohol problem compared to just 39% of those in rural areas.
  • Higher earners (those earning $150k to $200k) are also more likely to keep such problems to themselves (61%) compared to just 36% of lower earners.

Further details are available on the Family Drug Support website ( or from FDS Head Office on the number above.

For requests for interview and further information:
Holly Clark, Media Liaison for FDS
0452 069 936

About the Family Drug Support Service

  • Established by Tony Trimingham in 1997, Family Drug Support volunteers take around 33,000 calls to their support line every year.
  • The Service provides 24/7 support (Phone: 1300 368186) and support groups in most capital cities and a growing number of regional centres.
  • FDS also offers the Stepping Stones course for families/friends supporting someone with drug and/or alcohol problems.
  • FDS also offers one-on-one bereavement counselling, for those who may require it.

(1) Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2013.

(2) Lloyd B., Matthews S., Gao C. X., Heilbronn C., Beck, D. (2015). Trends in alcohol and drug related ambulance attendances in Victoria: 2013/14. Fitzroy, Victoria: Turning Point – national figure extrapolated from Victorian data.