Support for Families Struggling with Addiction
Find out how to support families of addicts in our helpful article, which includes resources like available support groups.
Addiction is a deadly disease that impacts more than just the person with the problem. Addiction is often referred to as a ‘family disease’. This means that family members and loved ones of the person with the addiction are also gravely impacted by this person’s addiction.
Having a family member or loved one with an addiction to alcohol or drugs can make each day nearly unbearable. Whether one person is dealing with a mental illness and misusing drugs or alcohol or is just beginning their recovery process, the disease of addiction can affect the whole family. The love and care that family & friends have for one another—and the special bonds that hold them together—can become strained by the pressure substance use disorder has on relationships. The loved ones of those struggling with an alcohol addiction or drug addiction often experience intense feelings of anger, sadness, loneliness, fear, shame, frustration, and resentment as they navigate the waters of this troubling experience.
It’s natural to feel helpless or overwhelmed when an addicted loved one in your family struggles with a substance use disorder, but hope and resources are available. Getting support is one of the best things you can do for the well-being of yourself, the individual suffering, and the entire family—allowing you all to heal. Learning about addiction, treatment programs, and recovery is the first step to helping you and your family relate to and support your loved one in need.
Why Families & Friends Need Support Groups
While it may seem counterintuitive to get yourself help, rather than your loved one, this is where your true power and strength may lie. Dealing with a family member who is addicted is hard. Without knowing the clear path, getting support along the way can make a big difference.
Substance use disorder can be very isolating, not just for the person suffering from addiction but also for their loved ones. Family members and friends may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or isolated when trying to find help for their loved ones. They may feel helpless and feel like they've lost control over the situation. However, support groups are a great resource for families and friends trying to find answers and get help for their loved ones.
Support groups can help provide a sense of community for those who may feel isolated due to their loved one's addiction. In a support group, you'll be able to talk candidly to other families who understand what you're going through. You can share your fears and frustrations. Support groups allow everyone's families and friends to get help for their struggling loved ones and find peace of mind themselves.
Benefits of Support Groups
During support group meetings, you can gain insight into the challenges and triumphs of other families facing experiences similar to yours. Joining a family support group offers a safe space for you and your loved ones to share your personal experiences, feelings, and coping strategies – and have your voices heard. Having our experiences validated by others in similar situations can provide relief and make us feel emotionally supported, helping us feel less alone or alienated by the throes of addiction.
Participating in a group format allows you to build meaningful connections within a support network of others who share a common purpose and can understand what you’re going through.
It’s crucial for your voice to be heard and for you to feel safe knowing that others are not judging you. Family support groups are a judgment-free zone where members listen to and respect one another’s experiences and different approaches to handling their matters.
Some benefits of joining parent and family support groups include:
Feeling less isolated or alone, having a stronger sense of connection and support
Reduced stress, depression, and anxiety
Opportunity to speak openly and honestly about your feelings
Improving coping skills
Improved sense of empowerment and hope
Caron Family Support Groups
Today, there are a number of different support groups for families of addicts. These groups vary by what they offer, their format, where and when they meet, who they are focused on helping, and more. The following list is not all-inclusive but offers a list of the most well-known and accessible support groups for families of addicts.
Nar-Anon is a 12-Step support group for families, loved ones, and friends of anyone with a substance use disorder or drug addiction. Nar-anon works to support those who care about someone with an addiction to find peace of mind and enjoy their lives despite their loved one’s ongoing battle with addiction. Nar-Anon states that they provide support for, “those who know or have known a feeling of desperation concerning the addiction problem of someone very near to you. We have traveled that unhappy road too, and found the answer with serenity and peace of mind.”
A part of the Nar-Anon program is the Narateen support group. This group is specifically for teens whose lives have been or are being affected by the drug use of a family member or loved one.
While Al-anon is for family members and loved ones of a person with an alcohol use disorder (AUD), many with family members who have a drug addiction also attend these meetings. This is also a 12-Step group based on the same guiding principles as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Alateen is a peer support group for teens struggling with addicted loved ones. Umbrellaed under Al-Anon, Alateen meetings are for youth aged 13-18. Alateen meeting information can be found on the teen section of the Al-Anon website.
4. Families Anonymous
Families Anonymous is a family support group based on the 12-step program. Families Anonymous welcomes family members of people with alcohol use problems or drug addiction. Information about their meetings can be found on the Families Anonymous website.
5. SMART (Self-Management and Recovery Training)
SMART offers support groups for both the person with the addiction as well as for family, loved ones, and friends of an addict. In this support group, the focus is on science-based, self-empowered recovery for both the person with the drug or alcohol addiction and loved ones.
In addition, many family members and loved ones utilize groups such as Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Celebrate Recovery, and the National Association for Children of Alcoholics. While some of these groups address concerns with alcohol addiction, many with loved ones who struggle with drug use find the support and structure helpful for them as well.
Taking the First Step
At Caron, we believe that recovery isn’t just possible—it’s probable! Call us today and learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help. We’re just one call away at 1-800-854-6023.
By Barbara Krantz, D.O., MS, DFASAM, MRO
By Caron Medical Staff
By Caron Medical Staff
By Anthony Campo, MD, FASAM, FAPA