Support Groups for Family & Friends of Addicts
- Mandy Sandhu
- 1 May 2020
Loved ones can be tremendous sources of motivation and inspiration for someone battling with addiction. Their support plays a pivotal role in seeing the person through addiction recovery.
However, family and friends of addicts also suffer from a great deal of emotional turmoil in the process. Who is left to support them? This is where joining addiction support groups can be beneficial.
How Addiction Support Groups Help Families
Addiction support groups can provide a lot of valuable resources to help families and friends of addicts cope with the stress and mental toll of the situation. Here are some of their benefits:
Addiction Support Groups Remind You That You Are Not Alone
Going to these meetings pulls out family members in despair, frustration, and isolation. When they see themselves in the same room filled with people who are sharing stories and who willingly listen to theirs, they find the connection and the sympathy that is otherwise hard to find from friends who have never been in their shoes. They feel a sense of belonging to a community or a tribe.
They Validate Emotional Responses of Shame or Guilt
At these addiction support groups, family members can have the chance to process their own emotions. Not everyone in these meetings is supportive of the addict in their lives. Some have severed ties permanently after being repeatedly hurt, physically or emotionally, but who are paralyzed by the guilt. In some cases, there are anger management issues brought about by being in a perpetual state of stress and suppressed emotions because of fear of confrontations. Some support groups are facilitated by an addiction counsellor or a psychotherapist and are conducted for the release and healing of these emotions.
Support Groups Encourage Family Members to Take Action
Addiction support groups do not directly give concrete advice or solutions for their attendees. But as people learn from the experiences of one another, they sometimes begin to see the wisdom of going to therapy as a family or the merits of staging an alcoholic intervention before things go out of hand.
List of Addiction Support Groups for Loved Ones
These support groups are often utilized after a rehabilitation stint in a facility like Freedom From Addiction. Please contact a professional (we are available 24/7) to understand the steps in addiction treatment and recovery before diving in head first.
Al-Anon is a worldwide addiction support group for families and friends of alcoholics. It does not offer addiction treatment or sobriety programs for people addicted to alcohol. Instead, it provides much-needed support for the loved ones who are concerned or who are directly affected by the effects of compulsive drinking of the person.
Al-Anon meetings are attended by spouses, children, parents, siblings, boyfriends, girlfriends, other family members, close friends, employers, employees, and coworkers of individuals who are suffering from alcoholism. It is a mutual support group that serves as a proper forum where people can share what they are going through. As their name suggests, the main strength of this addiction support group is that it promises total anonymity. Everyone in the meeting will respect the confidentiality of each other’s presence and statements.
The meetings are held in countless cities around the globe. You can search their directory to check if an AI-Anon meeting can be arranged or is already being held near your current location. If in any case you are not yet ready or it’s not convenient for you to go to an actual meetup because of work, you have the option to sign up for electronic AI-Anon meetings. You can attend these gatherings remotely as long as you have an Internet connection or over the phone. Formats include phone calls, email, chat, blog, bulletin board, instant messaging (Skype, WhatsApp, or Discord), Web conferencing (Zoom, Google Hangouts, or WebEx) and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter).
If you go to Al-Anon’s website, you’ll find a wealth of informative materials, such as blogs, online self-quizzes, and resources for professionals.
Alateen is an offshoot of Al-Anon. It is an addiction support group designed specifically for teenagers who are exposed to someone with alcohol addiction, say, a parent or an older sibling. It becomes a safe space for them to share experiences, offer support, and learn healthy ways on how to cope while living with an alcoholic.
Alateen is by no means a dating website or a social hangout for younger individuals. At each Alateen meeting, there is always one or two Alateen Group Sponsors, who are adult members of Al‑Anon who have gone through training and a certification process. Their task is to ensure all meetings’ safety and that they stay within the guidelines.
Like Al-Anon, adolescents can reach out to Alateen online or through a telephone call.
Families Anonymous was founded in California in 1971 as an addiction support group for parents concerned about their children’s substance abuse. They are a 12-step fellowship program dedicated to family and friends of individuals with a wide range of addiction, including drugs, substance abuse, alcohol, and behavioural problems. Like other formats, they also protect the identities of their members and keep their stories confidential.
Nar-Anon Family Group is another addiction support group that follows the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts. Meetings are typically held at treatment and community centers, hospitals, churches, or local twelve-step clubs.
Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA) and Dysfunctional Families is a 12-step addiction support group for adults who spent their childhood years living with an addicted family member or a deeply flawed family structure. In this program, they operate and raise awareness that similar to all forms of addiction, family dysfunction is an illness with devastating effects during childhood and into adulthood, regardless if there were drugs or alcohol in the picture.
GRASP or Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing aims to offer compassion to people who are mourning the death of a loved one caused by overdose or addiction. Aside from locally held face-to-face support groups, they also encourage comfort, acceptance, and healing with educational resources, such as blogs, books, journals, newsletters, meditation and healing materials.
Why People Join Addiction Support Groups
A 2013 survey has found that the majority of the people initially participate in addiction support groups, Al-Anon in particular, because of the following reasons below.
- They like anonymity it offers.
- They want a circle of friends they can relate to.
- They hope to have fewer problems with the addicted loved one/
- They know people know benefited from it
- They are stressed, anxious, unable to relax
- They want Al-Anon to trigger to get professional treatment
Remember, Support Groups Don’t Replace Therapy
Attending addiction support groups for family and friends can be immensely helpful, but it is wrong to consider them as a replacement or substitute for treatment.
Although they may offer some form of outlet for repressed emotions, there are some cases where the wounds of addiction have gone too deep. Research reveals that caregivers of addicts or those who live with them at home have their own fight with depression and anxiety. In this case, seeking professional help through private or family therapy is necessary to improve its effects on mental health.
If you are a family or friend of someone who is struggling with any addiction, know that your own emotional and mental health is just as important as theirs. Freedom from Addiction can connect you to different addiction support groups in the country, as well as our own family programs.
For more information about how we can help you and your family, please contact us today.
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