Addiction has been classified as a family disease. This is because it not only affects the person going through active addiction, but it can also impact their friends and family. Seeing your loved one be lost to the depths of addiction and turn into a person you no longer recognize can be heartbreaking, angering, and cause feelings of loss, rage, grief, sadness, despair, and more. It is not uncommon for loved ones of addicts to suffer from addiction too. They often feel lost, scared, and hopeless as they don’t know what to do or how to help. This is when support groups for the loved ones of addicts exist. The groups help these individuals heal, teach them about addiction, and help them get through this difficult time.
How Can I Support My Loved One?
You don’t have to be a mental health professional to properly help your loved one with an addiction. While treatment is better left to the professionals, you can provide support in your own ways. This should start by you educating yourself on addiction. Family members of addicts take on a lot of guilt because they often believe they are responsible for their loved one’s struggles. However, learning how addiction progresses and what makes it a chronic disease can take a lot of this guilt from your shoulders.
You can also be open and honest about how you feel with your loved one, but maintain your boundaries with them. Trust is the key to a relationship with an addict, and being available for them to talk to you can open the door for this.
One of the best ways you can support your loved one is by getting help for yourself. You have most likely suffered a lot due to their addiction. Taking time to heal yourself and take care of your wellbeing will do more for them than you may realize. You can do this by enrolling in therapy or going to support groups for friends and family of addicts.
Things to Avoid
While you are trying your best to support your loved one, remember there are proper ways of doing so. Educating yourself on addiction is crucial to not making mistakes that may enable your loved one’s addiction or cause harm to them or yourself. Even with the best intentions, you may be making the situation worse. Things to avoid doing while supporting an addicted loved one include:
- Making ultimatums
- Enabling them
- Making threats
- Criticizing them
- Having unrealistic expectations of healing
- Trying to talk to them when you are emotional
- Allowing them to take advantage of you
Support Groups for Loved Ones
While your loved one is going through treatment or to help you deal with the fact your loved one refuses treatment for their addiction, you can go to a support group specifically for friends and family of addicts. These groups can provide you with education about addiction and allow you to connect with others that understand and can empathize with what you are going through. These support groups can be found all over the US in almost every state. It is worth it to go in order to take care of yourself and provide the best support for your loved one. Here are some suggestions for family support groups.
Al-Anon and Alateen
Al-Anon is a 12- step support group that was created to support family and friends of alcoholics. Alateen is a division of Al-Anon that is for younger family members of alcoholics. Both groups provide education and support.
Nar-Anon is similar to Al-Anon in that it follows a 12-step curriculum to help family members heal from the effects of their loved one’s abuse. Instead of alcoholism, Nar-Anon focuses on family members of drug addicts.
SMART Recovery is not based on the twelve steps, unlike Al-Anon. It provides alternative methods and more science-based options to help your loved one through their addiction.
GRASP stands for Grief Recovery After Substance Passing. This support group is for those who have lost a loved one to substance abuse. It helps them deal with grief and connect with others that have gone through similar situations.
This group supports friends and family members that are concerned about their loved ones’ drug or alcohol consumption and related problems.
PAL stands for Parents of Addicted Loved Ones and takes an approach that follows principles of Christianity. The group helps parents of addicted children learn about addiction and connect them with other parents in similar situations.
NAMI stands for The National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI is for individuals that are concerned about a loved one’s mental health and how it may be affecting them. This can include issues related to substance abuse. Resources and support are available to help friends and family members.
At Northstar Transitions, we have seen time and again the impact that addiction can have on friends and family members of addicts. The trauma and grief one goes through are unimaginable and can only be understood by people that have been in similar situations. That’s why support groups have been made for friends and family members of people struggling with addiction. At Northstar, we provide resources for the loved ones of our clients to give them the support they need to get through this difficult time. We can connect you with support groups in the area and point you in the right direction of healing. Remember to take care of yourself as you try to help your loved one. You cannot pour from an empty cup. For more tips and resources, call us today at (303) 558-6400. You don’t have to go through this experience alone. There are people here to support you.