Those with an addiction aren’t the only ones who need care and support during their struggles; the friends and family members of those with an addiction need it as well. It’s all too easy for friends and family members to forget to take care of themselves throughout the process of handling a loved one’s addiction. Family support helps the friends and family of those with an addiction better understand the nature of their loved one’s addiction, place realistic expectations on their loved one’s recovery process, and provides support/treatment to family members and friends who need it.
Friends of Recovery New York developed a guide for families who are currently managing a loved one’s addiction – crucial information, helpful skills, and contact information for many different support groups can be found here.
What is Al-Anon/Alateen and Nar-Anon?
Addiction doesn’t only impact the person with an addiction, it often has a strong influence on the lives of their friends and family as well. Just as there are many different recovery and support groups for those with an addiction, there are also several support groups for friends and family of those with an addiction. Al-Anon (and its subsidiary group Alateen) and Nar-Anon are two of the most well known support groups for loved ones of all ages who find that their lives are negatively impacted by someone they know with an alcohol or drug addiction.
- Al-Anon: Al-Anon is a support program for people whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. At Al-Anon meetings, the friends and family members of problem drinkers share their experiences and learn how to apply the principles of the Al-Anon program to their individual situations. The foundation of Al-Anon and its principles are based upon the idea that by sharing experiences and coming together to learn a better way of life, Al-Anon members can find happiness whether the problem drinker in their lives is drinking or not.
- Alateen: While Al-Anon is geared more towards the friends and family members of someone with an alcohol addiction, Alateen is a fellowship of young people (mostly teenagers) whose lives have been affected by someone else’s drinking. Teenagers who attend Alateen meetings can meet and discuss their unique and shared experiences with other teens whose lives have been affected by someone in their lives with an alcohol addiction. Through the discussion of difficulties and the encouragement of a group of peers, Alateen helps young people deal with the problems that arise from someone else’s addiction to alcohol. If you’re wondering if Alateen is the right group for you, this self-quiz can help make your decision easier. Those who are interested in joining an Al-Anon or Alateen group near them, or those who want to learn more about the groups and their vision/mission can visit this link for answers to common questions, chapter locations, and additional educational material.
- Nar-Anon: Nar-Anon is a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction, rooted in the principles of the Twelve-Step program. Members of each group share their experience, strength, and hope at weekly meetings, which are usually held at locations such as treatment and community centers, hospitals, churches, or local twelve-step clubs. Members of Nar-Anon find support for the struggles with their loved one’s addictions, clarity and understanding of everything that stems from that addiction, and peace of mind through unity.
Carry naloxone (Narcan®). Help save a life.
Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medicine that can save someone’s life if they are overdosing on opioids—whether it’s a prescription opioid pain medicine, heroin, or a drug containing fentanyl.
It is not a treatment for opioid addiction. Naloxone quickly blocks and reverses the effects of an overdose. You can tell it is working because it quickly helps a person breathe normally.
Signs of an opioid overdose include:
- Being unconscious
- Very slow or shallow breathing
- Limp body
- Not responding when called, touched, or shaken
Carry naloxone with you every day. You can be a first responder. You can save a life.
Additional Family Supports
While Al-Anon/Alateen and Nar-Anon may be two of the largest family support groups, there are still many other necessary and impactful support and education groups that work just as well as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Choosing the right support or education group is crucial for any family dealing with a loved one’s addiction, as the connection between families who share the experience of living with someone’s addiction is an important resource of support and recovery. Families who choose a group they really connect with will find far more success in their own personal recovery process. Family support and education groups in the area are:
- Addictions Care Center of Albany: The Addictions Care Center of Albany (ACCA) is a comprehensive care center that not only offers traditional rehabilitation and recovery services for those with an addiction, but also offers support to family and friends as well. The ACCA helps friends and family members of those with an addiction navigate the barriers of appropriate addiction prevention and treatment, as well as offering peer or family coaching services to help cope with the complications of their loved one’s addiction. By equipping families and communities with the knowledge they need and opportunities for stability in their lives, the ACCA can help everyone involved in the struggle with addiction. The ACCA Family Support Services Program hosts a Family Support Meeting every Monday evening from 6:30pm-7:30pm.
Dan McLarney, CRPA, CASAC-T
Family Support Navigator
90 Mc Carty Avenue
Albany, N.Y. 12202
Phone: 518.465.5829 ext. 416
- Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) – A family support group that focuses on the struggles of adults who grew up in alcoholic homes. Through regular meetings, members of ACOA share their grief and experiences with the abuse, neglect, and trauma that arose in their childhoods, allowing them to take an honest inventory of themselves and their families. By doing so, they can identify and heal core trauma and come to grips with how a loved one’s addiction shaped their lives.
The 14 Traits (or “Laundry List”) identifies common characteristics shared by members of ACOA, and determine whether ACOA is right for you.
- Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) – A support group that offers support for people seeking healthy relationships. The relationship between a friend, family member, or spouse/partner and a loved one dealing with an addiction often deteriorates, and without proper support and guidance, can sometimes sever completely. The purpose of CoDA is in providing a network of assistance and hope so that its members can learn how to live life without relying on another person in an unhealthy way.
- Families Anonymous (FA) – A twelve-step fellowship geared towards the families and friends of those with alcohol, drug and behavioral problems. Rooted in the same guiding principles as the other major Twelve-Step programs, where routine meetings are used as a venue for sharing experiences and offering guidance to those in the group. Those who have experienced the feeling of desperation concerning the impact addiction is having on their loved one’s life (as well as on their own life) find a common cause with other members in understanding addiction better and learning how to release their own pain and anger.
- Friends of Recovery – NY (FOR-NY) – A peer-led recovery group comprised of NYS residents who are in long-term recovery from addiction, as well as their families, friends and allies. They represent all sectors of the community, all regions of the state, and the numerous and diverse paths to recovery. Their mission is to demonstrate the power and proof of recovery from addictions and its value to individuals, families and communities throughout NYS and the nation. FOR-NY actively seeks to advance public policies and practices that promote and support recovery.
- Columbia County Pathways to Recovery– CCPR is an RCO (Recovery Community Organization), a grassroots group which grew out of the concern for a need for awareness, education, advocacy, and a change in perception regarding the public health crisis of addiction. CCPR is comprised of individuals who are in recovery from addiction, families and friends impacted by addiction, families who have lost a loved one to addiction, and friends and allies in the larger Columbia County community, including professionals, concerned community members, educators, medical and mental health specialists, community leaders, clergy, law enforcement, emergency rescue personnel, and addiction and recovery specialists, who have all joined together to solve our common problem around this public health crisis.
- Catholic Charities and Twin County Recovery Services Prevention Programs- Offers alcohol and substance abuse prevention education, along with education regarding addiction. Prevention educators work in Columbia and Greene County schools and community settings to educate children in grades K-12 on the dangers of harmful situations and using substances. Educators deliver evidenced based lessons tailored to fit the need of each age group, community and family. Their goal is to inform and assist students to build positive character traits and make healthy decisions as children and adults. Lesson topics include but are not limited to; alcohol and drug abuse prevention, violence prevention, positive character self-esteem building, refusal skills, personal safety, and healthy communication and problem solving.
Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene Counties
431 East Allen St.
Hudson, NY 12534
Twin County Recovery Services
388 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414