Peter Cartwright


In recent years I have been involved with developing how to counsel people with the many aspects of being bereaved through a drug or alcohol related death. Through this work I have written several publications:

Primary author and editor of Supporting People Bereaved through a Drug or Alcohol Related Death published by Jessica Kingsley Publishing in 2020. This is the first book to address how to counsel these bereaved people and it covers:

Part 1 – Making sense of substance-related bereavements

Chapter 1 – Making sense of bereavement

Chapter 2 – Three useful theories for bereavement support

Chapter 3 – Making sense of substance use

Chapter 4 – How addictive substance use can affect a family

Chapter 5 – Substance-related bereavements

Chapter 6 – Making sense of substance-related bereavements

Part 2 – How to support a bereaved person

Chapter 7 – Key considerations

Chapter 8 – Supporting a bereaved person

Chapter 9 – Bereavement counselling

Chapter 10 – Themes in bereavement counselling

Chapter 11 – Anxiety, stress and traumatic bereavement

Chapter 12 – Unfinished business

Chapter 13 – Shame and stigma

Chapter 14 – Anger, blame and guilt

Chapter 15 – Depression

Chapter 16 – Counselling clients who use medication, alcohol or drugs

Chapter 17 – Later bereavement and how far can we help?

Part 3 – Examples of good practice


Endorsements of the book


‘What a timely, scholarly yet accessible book Peter Cartwright has composed on the neglected area of bereavement following a substance-related death. A wealth of much-needed information is provided on so many diverse aspects. The emerging good-practice guidelines are based on extensive clinical expertise and wisdom as well as available research. Not only health care professionals but those experiencing this special type of grief have much to learn from reading this ground-breaking book.’

Margaret Stroebe, Professor Emeritus, Department of Clinical Psychology, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, and Department of Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychopathology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands


‘The response to loss, we have learned, is subject to many factors, cause of death being prominent among them. In this book Peter Cartwright shines a light on drug and alcohol realted death, an epidemic that affects an ever growing number of the bereaved. The book offers abundant clinical illustrations, insight and information about the complexities of grief in these cases, and will be of interest to experienced bereavement therapists as well as those new to the field.’

Phyllis Kosminsky, PhD, LCSW, FT, Author of Attachment Informed Grief Therapy: The Clinicians’ Guide to Foundations and Applications 

‘As Chief Executive of Adfam, England’s leading organisation supporting families and friends affected by substance use, I am very pleased to endorse this book, which makes a very important contribution to practice around a particularly difficult and sensitive issue…that of substance related bereavement.’

Vivienne Evans OBE, Chief Executive, Adfam

‘Peter Cartwright’s Supporting People Bereaved Through a Drug- or Alcohol-Related Death is a great gift to any counselor dealing with grief or substance abuse. Cartwright’s book is solid – theoretically grounded yet eminently practical. Therapists will find this book an essential tool for assisting bereaved family and friends in coping with such devastating deaths.’

Kenneth J. Doka PhD, Senior Consultant, The Hospice Foundation of America, and Author of Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges and Strategies for Practice


Other Publications


Author of Chapter 17: Guidance for supporting people bereaved through a drug-related death: Unique circumstances, special needs, in The Routledge International Handbook of Drug-related Bereavement published by Routledge in 2024.


Author of How helpful is counselling for people bereaved through a substance-related death? published by Bereavement Care journal in 2019. This was the first research to be conducted into the helpfulness of counselling for people bereaved through substance use.


Co-author, along with Lorna Templeton and Dr Gordon Hay, of Chapter 7: Improving the response of services, in Families bereaved by alcohol and drugs: Research on experiences, coping and support published by Routledge in 2018.


Primary author and the chairman of the national working group that produced Bereaved through substance use: Guidelines for those whose work brings them into contact with adults after a drug or alcohol-related death published by the University of Bath in 2015. Available free at This is the first guidance to be produced for any professionals, workers or volunteers who as a part of their work comes into contact with these bereaved people.


Co-author, along with Philippa Skinner and Anna O’Connell, of Bereaved by Addiction: A Booklet for Anyone Bereaved Through Drug or Alcohol Use published by DrugFAM in 2013. Available for free from DrugFAM, for contact details see


Author of Chapter 11: Feelings and stammering: Finding a way forward, in Stammering Therapy from the inside: New Perspectives on working with young people and adults published by J&R Press in 2013.


Author of the article ‘Counselling people who use drugs and alcohol: A family approach’ published by the Association for University and College Counselling, September 2012.