Over 19 million people in the United States struggle with substance use disorder. This number represents countless lives impacted by drug and alcohol abuse. Spouses, parents, children, family members and close friends — addiction brings devastation and trauma to everyone it touches.
Addiction is a disease that destroys trust and wreaks havoc on the family dynamic. When an addict seeks treatment, their family will need to heal from the trauma of their substance abuse.
If your loved one struggles with addiction, you are not alone. Support groups aren’t only for recovering addicts. These groups offer comfort and guidance to family members of alcoholics or drug addicts, and are an important component of the healing process.
The Importance of Support Groups for Family Members of Addicts and Alcoholics
As family and friends grapple with their loved one’s addiction, support groups can be a vital resource. You may experience a variety of emotions, including guilt, anger, grief and shame. Support groups help you work through these feelings.
Often, support groups are facilitated by a licensed counselor. Peer-lead support groups can also provide support and guidance based on others’ personal experiences.
Here are a few ways that support group meetings can help you and your family:
- Deal with deep emotions: These groups offer a kind, supportive environment where parents, siblings, spouses and children can work through emotional wounds due to a loved one’s addiction. Those in the group have experienced similar emotions, so they can validate your feelings and share their own struggles.
- Move forward with your life: When you’re weighed down by guilt or blame, these negative emotions make it difficult to move forward. Support groups for families of addicts can help you deal with crippling feelings so you can focus on your healing.
- Address enabling behaviors and toxic relationships: Unhealthy relationships are common when a family member becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol. Support groups can help you identify and address these issues, so you can create a healthier environment for you and your recovering loved one.
- Provide understanding and support: Having an addicted loved one can make you feel lost and alone. When you join a support group for family members of addicts, you’ll hear from others who understand exactly what you are going through.
- Gain insight: Many questions go unanswered when a family member struggles with substance abuse. Recovery groups are the perfect place to ask the hard questions so you can gain insight.
Where to Find a Support Group for Families
The friends and families of recovering addicts have a variety of well-known and well-established support groups to choose from. Whether you live in the Chicago area or anywhere in the country, these meetings provide safe places of support and understanding.
These support groups are specifically geared toward the families of those battling drug addiction or alcoholism:
- Al-Anon Family Groups
- Nar-Anon Family Groups
- Families Anonymous
- Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP)
- SMART Recovery Family & Friends
How to Pick a Support Group
If you’re not sure how to choose the right support group for your needs, here are some tips:
- Find groups with active local chapters that are easily accessible for you
- Familiarize yourself with their philosophies and review the information on their website
- Attend open meetings if offered
- Try different groups
- Ask questions to find out more about the group
- If you don’t like the first meeting, be willing to give it another chance
- Commit to attending regularly
- Become engaged and try to open and share
- Build relationships within the group to help you feel connected
Stay patient and don’t give up. It may take a little while for you to form relationships and feel comfortable sharing. Going through this journey with the support of others will help you find hope and healing.
Find Help for Your Loved One at Gateway Foundation
If your loved one is a drug addict or alcoholic, recovery is possible. At Gateway Foundation, we offer evidence-based treatment programs, including a family therapy program to address how addiction has impacted your family unit. Our multiple levels of care ensure your addicted loved one receives the right treatment for their specific needs.
If you would like to find out more, please feel free to contact us today.