Drug addiction and alcoholism don’t solely affect the user. Substance abuse is very much a trauma that spreads itself across the entire family.
Of course, the user is the one who needs help the most of all in righting their ship so to speak, but family members don’t come out unscathed in this.
Growing up or even just existing within the confines of a dysfunctional family can take a massive psychological toll.
That’s why it’s important to look into support groups for family members of drug addicts and those dealing with alcohol use disorder. As much as your loved one needs support in getting to the other side of addiction, you need assistance too because your “normal” has also been shattered.
What Are Support Groups for Family Members of Addicts?
Family members of addicts have a uniquely difficult and different experience with addiction, not necessarily as harrowing as the user, but distressing nonetheless. The mental price paid in the form of constant worry, anxiety and stress is high and needs to be addressed.
Without taking time to work through your issues, you can find yourself overwhelmed with all you’ve been dealing with. Support groups offer an environment where people who are going through or have gone through similar situations with addiction in their families can come to find solidarity and a place to talk. A place to build positive and healthy relationships.
Different Types of Support Groups for Families of Addicts and Alcoholics Available
Fortunately, this need for support has been recognized and several groups have been created to help.
Among them are:
Started in 1952 by the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon describes itself as, “a mutual support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. By sharing common experiences and applying the Al-Anon principles, families and friends of alcoholics can bring positive changes to their individual situations”.
Crucially, they add this can happen “whether or not the alcoholic admits the existence of a drinking problem or seeks help”.
This really drives home the idea that this is a support group for family and that you can get better even if the addict can’t.
Also related to Alcoholics Anonymous, Alateen was founded in 1957 by Al-Anon and focuses on the children of those struggling with alcoholism.
As they note, Alateen is “a fellowship of young people (mostly teenagers) whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking whether they are in your life drinking or not”.
The core goal is for it to be a place where young people can “share experiences, strength, and hope with each other to find effective ways to cope with problems” as well as “discuss difficulties and encourage one another”.
Adult Children of Alcoholics
Founded in 1973, Adult Children of Alcoholics describes themselves as a support group “focused on understanding the specific behavior and attitude patterns we developed while growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional environment. These patterns continue to affect us today.
By attending regular meetings we come to a better understanding of our past so we can more effectively restructure our lives today. We begin to see more clearly what is positive and healthy in ourselves”.
Similar to Al-Anon and Alateen, the idea of attending Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings is to be among those who truly get it. People who’ve been in exactly the same place you were growing up and who need help getting past it too.
Why You Should Go to Support Groups for Family Members of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics
The important thing to takeaway here is that support is critical for both the addict and you, the family. You have your own trauma to work through and it shouldn’t be ignored just because you aren’t the one who’s addicted.