To generate a fuller understanding of the relationship carers have with drug services and how this might affect carer engagement with these services.
Qualitative research consisting of focus groups and in-depth interviews with informal carers, service providers and policy makers.
One region of Scotland which has one of the highest prevalence rates for drug use. This incorporated services which were located in urban and rural settings, and those in affluent and deprived areas.
Three purposive samples of informal carers, service providers and policy makers.
Findings and conclusions
Findings highlight a number of potential barriers to carer involvement with drug services. Crucially informal carers, service providers and policy makers have different expectations of each other. These culminate in tensions in relation to everyday service delivery. For example, confidentiality is a contested area where service providers exercise their professional duty to maintain client confidentiality viewing it as central to their ongoing relationships with drug users, but carers complain that service providers are unhelpfully rigid in their approach. Findings also identify areas of commonality which could potentially be built upon such as dealing with the ongoing frustrations and mistrust that arise from living or working with problematic drug users. It is argued that highlighting mismatches in perceptions and identifying some middle ground provides a firm basis from which to promote mutual understandings and ultimately more appropriate partnership working between informal carers, service providers and policy makers.