Being a pillar of strength, hope, and guidance for someone else is a very exhausting task, even for the most capable person. Support groups for families of addicts and alcoholics provide a much needed safe space to cope with the on-going strain they endure with this problem, so they don’t lose themselves in the process.
An addicted person is not just changing and negatively affecting their own life, but also those around them. Because of the ripple effect addiction has on loved ones, it is often called a ‘family disease’. Having an environment in which the loved ones can go and express concerns is needed for the overall long-term recovery of everyone involved.
Support groups are a great way to move from feeling judged or condemned to understood as they navigate the struggles of having an addict in the family. Talking with people experiencing very similar life issues helps them not feel alone in their battle, but educated, relieved, and empowered.
As addiction does not only affect the addict alone, for the family, staying physically and emotionally healthy can sometimes prove to be a challenge. The people closest to an addict deal with physical issues such as sleeping problems, ill health, anxiety and emotional trauma. The family of an addict is vital to the recovery of someone with an addiction, yet they often feel run down in the process and have nothing left to give.
List of Support Groups for Families of Addicts & Alcoholics
There are many support groups for families dealing with addiction. The following list shows many of the better support groups and organizations and additional useful resources as well:
Nar-Anon Family Groups
Nar-Anon is a twelve-step program for those affected by addictions of loved ones and friends. It is a complimentary program for Narcotics Anonymous, which was created for individuals that are addicted. This program was founded in California in 1968.
Al-Anon and Alateen
Al-Anon supports the loved ones of alcoholics and was founded in 1951. It was founded 16 years after the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is for those addicted to alcohol. Alateen is a similar group, but it is geared toward the adolescent age group.
Adult Children of Alcoholics
In 1978, Adult Children of Alcoholics or ACA was founded, helping adults whose childhood was affected by their parent’s addiction. Adult Child is another term for when a person is confronted and how they return to a former state in childhood. ACA is also structured as a twelve-step program and helps families with other dysfunctions as well. Pinpointing the toxic components of their youth, they follow the plan laid out for them that has been proven to work.
Families Anonymous was born in California in 1971 by people looking for help for their children but now includes all types of relationships. People that are feeling desperate by the concern they feel for their loved ones can reach out and find a loving atmosphere where they can have the anonymity to be open in a group atmosphere.
PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved-Ones) was created in 2006 and is a Christian run non-profit. People of any faith are welcome to attend PAL meetings. The main goal is getting support for the family who is struggling to cope with their loved one’s addictive choices.
Sadly there will always be people who pass away from addiction. It is one of those life events that are monumental for family and friends. GRASP is an organization that realizes there is a need to support the ones that are left behind. There are so many tangled up feelings when a loved one passes away from addiction. Confusion, anger, blame, and more. Many will feel these emotions towards themselves, feeling like they did not help the person enough. There is also a stigma attached to these types of deaths that have to be addressed. This support group offers compassion and understanding in times of heartache.
Because every meeting as a group is different and the atmosphere can change depending on who is present and what topics are discussed, attending a meeting more than once is a good idea. If, after some trial, a particular support group is not working out, another can always be tried. The most important thing is attending the meetings. Progress from the group will be pretty tricky if you are not present to participate and gain the benefits of actually being there.
In these support groups, you can ask questions and share the issues you are dealing with, as well as the progress and victories. Though it may not seem like it at first, all of those things are beneficial in an encouraging, supportive group where there is support with very little pressure.
Tools and resources are readily available for them to use and be successful in their life, mind, and emotions. If someone can learn to deal with struggles within, dealing with others is much easier.
With today’s technology, virtual meetings and phone support are also available, but in-person meetings are encouraged because of the many added benefits. It’s been shown that the more active a member is in support groups for family members of addicted loved ones, the quicker the progress. Like most things in life, a person will get out of it what they put into it.
Sources & Resources
- What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet For Families
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best of Families
- It’s Not Your Fault
- It Feels So Bad: It Doesn’t Have To
- After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
- Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery From Mental Illness or Addiction