Addiction is currently a serious public health problem in the United States. Addiction has been better understood in the past few years as a disease, but addiction is not only a disease that the individual addict struggles with—addiction is a family disease. Addiction hurts everyone with a relationship with the addict. Parents of addicts especially are confronted by the challenges of navigating relationships with their children struggling with substance abuse. However, the increased recognition of addiction as a family disease has resulted in an increase of resources designed to not only help parents find their loved one help to tackle addiction, but also to help for parents of addicts themselves.
Addiction Is a Family Disease
At Soba Recovery, we can’t stress enough that addiction is often referred to as a family disease because it doesn’t only affect the individual struggling with substance abuse, it also impacts the loved ones of the addict. Parents of addicts in particular struggle with a complex mix of emotions when faced with the realities of their loved ones’ addiction, whether their child is a minor or an adult. Parents of addicts may take on the guilt, blame, or shame belonging to the addict, or experience these emotions as a result of embarrassment.
Parents of addicts can also easily be engrossed in the behavior of an addict, hyper-focusing on their child’s addictions and trying to fix them. If they are close to their loved one, parents of addicts may bear the brunt of unpleasant behaviors their loved ones exhibit as a result of their addiction. Addiction can also affect the marriage of parents of addicts. Most of all, like any parent, parents of addicts are faced with a situation where their child is facing a dangerous disease that they may feel powerless or hopeless against. If you have a child struggling with addiction, you are not alone—there are several resources that offer help for parents of addicts. One of the most invaluable resources are support groups for parents.
Support Groups for Parents of Addicts
Parents of addicts may feel alone in their experiences with their child’s addiction, but support groups for parents of addicts can help combat these feelings. It is common for parents of addicts to focus on the addicted loved one rather than themselves, however, support groups for parents can offer them emotional support in navigating their loved one’s addiction.
Al-Anon is one of the oldest support groups for family members of someone with a drinking problem. Al-anon offers free family groups open to any family member of an alcoholic looking for support. Meetings are usually one hour where attendees are encouraged to listen, learn, and share if they’re comfortable doing so. All meetings are anonymous and confidential is a foundational aspect of the groups. Al-Anon uses an adapted version of the Twelve Steps of Alcohols Anonymous as a tool for healing and growth for family members of addicts. Though Al-Anon family groups are not specifically for the parents of addicts, they are often among the family members of addicts that attend the meetings. The meetings can offer help for parents of addicts in finding validation of their experiences by individuals who have intimate understanding of the same issues through their own experiences. If you are interested in attending an Al-Anon Family Group, you can begin by looking for a group in your community on their webpage.
Whereas Al-Anon is for family and friends of individuals with dependency on alcohol, Nar-Anon is for the family and friends of those with dependency on drugs. Though the stories of how addiction to alcohol impacts families are similar to those of addiction to drugs, the stories at Nar-Anon focus specifically on drug use rather than alcohol. Nar-Anon similarly uses a Twelve Step Program to help families and friends of addicts find strength and hope. Nar-Anon does not require dues or fees and though its membership is not limited to parents of addicts, many attend the meetings. If you are interested in joining a Nar-Anon group, you can begin by looking for a family group in your community.
PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved Ones Group)
Unlike Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, or PAL, is a support group specifically for parents of addicts. PAL was created based on the recognition that parents have a different relationship with the addict than a sibling, friend, or spouse. When confronted with a loved one addicted to drugs or alcohol, parents have the tendency to revert to treating adult sons or daughters like younger children. PAL acknowledges this reaction to addiction is unique to parents and uses nine individual non-sequential lessons in meetings that teach about addiction both from an addict’s and a parent’s perspective.
How to Get Your Loved One Help
Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and PAL are all useful support groups for parents of addicts. But it is important to remember these are non-professional support groups, meaning they offer a space for members to share their experiences, hope, and strength—they do not offer professional treatment for addicts. If you’re seeking help for your loved one’s addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, is the agency leading the public health effort to combat substance abuse and offers a range of resources.
Get Help With Addiction at Soba Recovery
If you’re looking for professional treatment for a loved one’s addiction, Soba Recovery is also here to help. We offer compassionate, quality addiction treatment services in San Antonio, Texas, and Mesa, Arizona. Please contact us for information about how we can help. Our professionals are here to help individuals and their families get through drug and alcohol addiction.