Building resilience in families


Given the emotional, behavioural and practical impact of addiction on the family even the most resilient of families can be deeply affected by it. Current Action on Addiction practice targets some of the protective factors which are believed to build resilience within families both for family units and their individual members, including children and those with the addiction. These protective factors include confidence, cohesion, communication, self-esteem, and the ability to tackle problems in a positive way and access support.


We held a roundtable at the Conservative Party Conference 2018 with leading charities including Centrepoint, Women’s Aid and Action for Children, as well as the Children’s Commissioner for England and former MP David Burrowes, to explore both the effect of addiction on family resilience and the effect of family resilience on addiction.


Our agenda paper on family resilience explains more about our approach, and we welcome contact from politicians, policy professionals and practitioners who have an interest in addressing the problems of addiction and who wish to contribute to a distinctive policy approach predicated on building resilience within families.


M-PACT and Family Resilience


The Moving Parents and Children Together (M-PACT) programme, delivered by a range of partners under licence from Action on Addiction, offers a whole family approach. It works with parents and children from up to eight families (where at least one parent has problems with alcohol and/or drugs) at any one time in different group combinations. The programme, comprises 10 sessions: an initial family assessment; eight consecutive weekly sessions that last 2.5 hours; and a family review session; with a reunion held three months after the end of the programme. M-PACT is now being delivered across England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland in a variety of community, school and prison settings.


The programme is run by experienced professionals – tutored by Action on Addiction’s experts through training which is accredited by the University of Bath – who work with children, young people and their parents to reduce the harmful impact that parental substance misuse and addiction has on family life.


At a time when there is little research about how to build resilience in family units affected by addiction, a recent independent evaluation of our M-PACT programme indicated that it targets some of the protective factors which are believed to build resilience. These protective factors include confidence, cohesion, communication, self-esteem and the ability to tackle problems in a positive way and access support.


Most of the quantitative changes that participants experienced are statistically significant, indicating that they were unlikely to have occurred by chance and are most likely to derive from participation in the M-PACT programme. The quantitative findings are also reinforced by qualitative evaluations, with participants reporting that global family functioning had improved over time as a result of participation in the programme


Lorna Templeton

Independent Research Consultant


I have been involved in the evaluation of M-PACT for over 10 years, since the very first programme was piloted in 2006.  It has been a pleasure to be involved with M-PACT in this way, and perhaps rare as a researcher to retain involvement in something over such a long period of time.  It has also been a privilege to hear from participants, including children, from a range of families covering community and prison settings about how much they have benefitted from M-PACT as individuals and as families.  Given the length of time many of them had been struggling for, and the complex problems which many of them were facing, it is to the credit of both those who developed M-PACT and those who deliver it that the programme could affect significant changes in a relatively short period of time.  M-PACT was initially developed as response to the 2003 ACMD Hidden Harm report – more than 10 years later it remains a rare example of an evidence-based intervention and, given the recent and increased recognition being given to children and families affected by addiction, it is as important an intervention now as it was when it was introduced.  Evaluation has always been an important part of M-PACT and I hope this continues, both to build on existing findings but also to take M-PACT research and evaluation in new directions in order to strengthen its evidence-base. 



If you would like to deliver M-PACT as a licence holder please contact the families team:

 T: 01747 832 015



Read our agenda paper on family resilience.