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  • Lauri Beekmann

New campaign sheds light on addiction's impact on families in Denmark

24.10.2023 - The Relatives Network - Addiction Portal (Pårørende Netværket - Misbrugsportalen), a nationwide advisory organisation that supports families affected by addiction and their relatives, has launched the #YouOrMe campaign for weeks 41 and 42. Their campaign film, "It could be you or me," aims to shed light on how widespread addiction and dependency are in society and to challenge the prejudiced perceptions of how families affected by addiction are portrayed.

Addiction, it seems, does not discriminate

Addiction and abuse, in various forms, impact people across all societal classes, genders, and ages throughout Denmark. Behind every individual with an addiction problem, there are often several close relatives facing challenging circumstances that are seldom visible to the outside world.

For those close to someone with an addiction, the experience can be painful and draining. The circumstances surrounding addiction can unfold in various ways and often over many years. Many relatives reportedly carry the weight of their loved one's addiction as a painful and heavy secret, leading to isolation from the broader community and feelings of shame. This issue has been described as devastating for families, and the Relatives Network - Addiction Portal aims to address it. However, they believe it demands a broader and more nuanced understanding of addiction from society as a whole.

The challenge of prejudice

Many campaign films and media portrayals seem to present a one-sided and dark portrayal of families affected by addiction, which can be a barrier for those seeking help. This includes images of empty bottles, pills scattered on a table, crying children, or women with bruises.

While it's recognized that this portrayal can be a reality for some families, it's essential to understand that it doesn't necessarily provide a comprehensive picture for all. It may deter many relatives from addressing family issues early on and from seeking support.

The call for diversity in the conversation about addiction and relatives

Silvia Meyer, the founder of the Relatives Network - Addiction Portal, has stated: "If relatives encounter a societal image of their family, their close ones, or their home that they don't recognize or wish to be identified with, then the message can be counterproductive. Instead of fostering understanding, it can create distance."

The campaign aims to provide a more nuanced image of who the relatives are, using #YouOrMe as a symbol of the diversity and variety among families affected by addiction.

Their campaign film "It could be you or me" will run on the association's social platforms for the next two weeks. During its 60-second duration, viewers will see portrayals of a spouse, a young son, a parent, and an adult child – all of whom are depicted as relatives.

Presently, over 120,000 families are affected by alcohol or drug abuse in Denmark

This campaign seeks to spotlight various familial relationships affected by addiction. The film will feature authentic statements from the association's counseling and also aims to bring attention to an underrepresented group of relatives affected by prescription drug abuse. Among the various messages in the film, a central theme emerges: relatives affected by addiction are encountered every day, often without realization.

The campaign's goals:

  • Recognize all those affected by addiction in society and give them a voice, encouraging the public to use the hashtag #YouOrMe.

  • Challenge one-sided notions about relatives and addiction, highlighting the diversity and differences among those in society who suffer due to the conditions of addiction.

  • Through the film, offer a more nuanced portrayal and initiate an inclusive dialogue about addiction in the family, demonstrating that anyone can be a relative, thus making it more acceptable to address the issue and seek support.

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