The actions of a family member suffering from addiction inevitably affects the whole family. A support group can be very beneficial in helping a family heal from the impacts of addiction and increase the chances of their loved one’s recovery long-term. Find out where you can find support.
The family members of those addicted to drugs often suffer just as much emotionally and physically as the family member who is addicted to drugs. However, many families do not realise that there are support groups available that can help them cope. Addiction is sometimes referred to as a ‘family disease,’ as one family member’s addiction affects the entire family unit. Family members can develop patterns of co-dependency in order to cope with the unpredictable actions of the addicted family member. Familial conflict as well as deep-seeded shame and denial are among some of the many ways addiction negatively impacts families. Feelings of hopelessness, depression, and anxiety are also common. Family members can get so caught up in trying to help and care for their addicted family member that they forget to care for themselves. It can be difficult for loved ones to reach out for support, but it is one of the most important things families can do not only for themselves but also for their addicted loved one. Luckily, there are many support groups for families of addicts available to help family members regain a sense of hope and better understand the disease of addiction.
Support Groups for Families of Those Addicted to Drugs
The following list includes different types of family support groups that take place around the world. They all have the same goal of offering a safe place for people who love an addicted person to come together and learn ways to cope with their situation.
Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Fam-Anon
Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and Fam-Anon are support groups for families of addicts based on the 12 Steps originally outlined in the AA addiction support groups. Al-Anon family groups offer support for the loved ones of a problem drinker. Nar-Anon family groups offer support for loved ones of drug addicts, and Fam-Anon is the UK version of these 12-Step family support groups. Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are worldwide fellowships for people affected by someone else’s addiction, which means that Al-Anon groups can be found in many countries around the world. These groups offer a safe and confidential place for loved ones of addicts to know that they are not alone, where they can learn that they have choices that can lead to greater peace of mind whether their loved one continues to use drugs or not. These 12-Step support groups for families of addicts are not affiliated with any religion but are spiritual in-nature. Attending meetings will help members learn about the disease of addiction and adopt an honest and consistent approach toward the addicted person in their life, which in turn could encourage their addicted loved one to seek their own treatment.
Step Together is a family support group in Linlithgow, UK, that was created in conjunction with the 1st Step Recovery Café. Recovery Café provide opportunities for people recovering from addiction to learn job skills and form a sense of community. The 1st Step Recovery Café was successful in its first year and continues to help addicts, but the founders recognised that family members of addicts need support as well, which is why they started the Step Together family support group. The Step Together group follows the SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) programme to help people learn about addiction and how to care for themselves while trying to help their loved one with addiction. Step Together founders Rosie and Colin Hutcheon said, “People are unaware how traumatic it can be for relatives living with someone who is an addict. With greater understanding of the nature of addiction, sharing with those who have similar difficulties and helping them learn new ways of responding to loved ones, participant’s lives can and will improve.”
Family Drug Support Australia
Family Drug Support Australia is a network of support groups for families of those addicted to drugs began in Australia in 1997 after the founder lost his son to a heroin overdose. Family Drug Support offers throughout Australia non-religious support meetings that are open to anyone who would like to talk with and listen to others who share similar experiences in a safe and non-judgemental environment. The organisation also has a 24-hour support line.
Family Addiction Treatment Programmes
The support groups for families of addicted people that are listed above are helpful for family members whose loved one is either actively addicted or already in recovery. Sometimes attending family support groups will help you stop enabling and therefore lead the addicted person in your life to eventually seek the help that he or she needs. Once in an addiction treatment programme, continued family support can have positive outcomes on the addicted person’s ability to recover. The Cabin Chiang Mai offers a unique family treatment programme where family members join their addicted loved one on-site over a three-day period and participate in a series of treatment related activities. This intensive programme is led by addiction specialists and serves to educate family members about the disease of addiction and how it is treated. The course also helps them better understand how they can best support their family member during and after treatment. In addition to participating in psycho-educational groups, family members meet with their loved one’s counsellor, as well as have family therapy sessions that will put the entire family on the road to healing and long-term addiction recovery. Family members are encouraged to continue seeking support by attending one of the support groups for families of addicts even after their loved one has completed drug rehab. No matter what stage of addiction your loved one is in, getting support, learning about addiction, and caring for yourself are some of the best things you can do to help.
(This article is the sole property of “The Cabin Chiang Mai”; they are its original authors)