As I contemplate the 10th anniversary of our Caron Parent and Family Support Groups, I think about how valuable they, and other 12-Step based support groups, are in fostering change. As family members begin their journey in recovery their first thought is often "If only the addict would change, everything will be okay!"
I have witnessed firsthand the "ah-ha" moments as they begin to learn more about the impact of the disease on their own behavior and they begin to understand that change is a necessary part of their journey as well. They begin to experience the courage and freedom in choosing change.
“Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.” This is one of the promises of living a 12 step recovery program as outlined in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. We see parents at support meetings smiling and laughing. The newcomer may ask them how did they get to this place and in response they share this; “Keep coming back, it may or may not get better but you will get better.” We confirm that the change that leads to a family member’s peace resides within them, not with the addict. That the one thing they can control is their own attitudes, actions and beliefs.
Through support meetings, we are also reminded that no one has to change alone. In fact very often we can’t. The value of connecting with others who have had shared experiences creates a safe space that encourages growth, hope and recovery. We never have to struggle alone again. The “me” is replaced by the “we” and suddenly change is possible. Finally, I want acknowledge that change does require significant courage, as it is often by a leap of faith that we make changes without a guarantee of an immediately positive outcome and change may even be a little uncomfortable for a while. However, as we grow we begin to experience the joy of recovery and fully understand the power of change.