Northland District Health Board wants more staff to be trained in a programme designed to support whānau affected by a loved one's substance abuse.

The programme - named The 5-Step Method - was developed in the United Kingdom after it was discovered the needs of families experiencing problematic drug and alcohol use were often misunderstood and ignored.

Alcohol and other drugs (AOD) educator Noeleen Chaney has been raising the profile of the method across Northland, and training Northland DHB staff and local non-government organisations (NGOs) including the Salvation Army and Ngāti Hine Health Trust.

Twenty-eight DHB and NGO staff have received training to date. The DHB's aim is to train 12 people a year and from those it would work with five people to become accredited trainers.

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"Our aim is to build our training capacity so we can provide more training throughout the organisation and strengthen our relationships with NGOs," a Northland District Health Board spokeswoman said.

For whanāu affected by a loved ones' substance abuse, the 5-Step Method can be done individually, as a whānau or in a group situation with multiple family members.

The first of the five steps is an opportunity for whānau to tell their story; in step two they are provided with information and education about addiction and the substance being used; step three explores the three common ways affected whānau members cope with the situation and the advantages and disadvantages of each of these; step four explores the different types of support they currently have; and in step five the practitioner will identify whether they need any further support and establish a plan.

To support training, Te Pou - a centre focused on improving the workforce performance of mental health, addiction and disability services - has provided resources for Chaney to become accredited as an assessor, as marking for those training to become accredited in the method is currently done overseas.

Te Pou project lead Michelle Brewerton said this means Aotearoa would be self-sustaining in training, assessing and accrediting AOD workers to develop their skills using the 5-Step Method.

"Whānau can receive help that has been proven to be effective in many cultures around the world, and 5-Step Method practitioners are providing research on its effectiveness here," she said.

Northland DHB staff should contact Chaney directly to do the training. For those working outside of Northland DHB, Michelle Brewerton at Te Pou Limited – michelle.brewerton@tepou.co.nz - can arrange training.