In the world of rehabilitation and recovery, the focus is usually on the person who is struggling to overcome an addiction. The goal is to help the addict recognize the problem and then give them the tools and coping mechanisms they need to overcome it.
However, the person in recovery isn’t the only one affected by alcoholism or drug abuse. In fact, we get a lot of calls at Alpine Recovery Center from family members of our patients. They want to know what resources are available to help them cope with their loved one’s addiction and how to be a good support system for them when they return home.
Support and resources for loved ones of addicts are widely available. Here are some of the best resources, things that can help you work through your feelings about addiction and ultimately, repair your relationship with your loved one.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon
We want to start with two organizations who have stellar reputations when it comes to assisting family members and friends of alcoholics and drug addicts: Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
Al-Anon and its partner Alateen are groups designed for families, children, and friends whose lives have been impacted by alcoholism. These groups are related to Alcoholics Anonymous.
As their names suggest, both Al-Anon and Alateen are anonymous groups. Anybody may attend meetings and share experiences with other members. Alateen is specifically for teenagers, who may have special challenges in dealing with alcoholism.
Nar-Anon is very similar but geared towards people who have been impacted by drug abuse and addiction.
Both groups use a 12-step approach that is similar to the one used by AA and other organizations. The goal is to help friends and family members of alcoholics and drug addicts deal with their emotions related to the abuse and lead happy lives.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, is an excellent resource for family members of alcoholics and drug addicts. They offer a variety of services and resources that you may want to check out.
The first thing to be aware of is their 24/7 confidential hotline, which you can find at 1-800-662-HELP. It’s a free resource that can provide support as well as referrals and information about treatment. Help is available in both English and Spanish.
SAMHSA also has a number of free pamphlets that you may find helpful. Here are a few of them:
- What is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families – available in English and Spanish, this booklet explains substance abuse treatment options and gives advice on how to help children whose parents are dealing with substance abuse.
- Alcohol and Drug Addiction Happens in the Best of Families – explains how drug and alcohol abuse can affect family units and gives advice on family interventions.
- It Feels So Bad. It Doesn’t Have To. – a booklet aimed at children whose parents or caretakers are dealing with a substance abuse problem.
Books about Substance Abuse and Alcoholism
Books are an excellent resource to help you learn more about alcoholism, drug addiction, codependency, and recovery. The more information you have about addiction and recovery, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to serve as a meaningful source of support and encouragement for your loved one. And, in the event that isn’t possible, you can learn how to relieve yourself of any guilt you may feel at not being able to help.
With that in mind, here are some books that we think are particularly helpful:
Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself – Melody Beattie
Melanie Beattie’s book is a recovery and addiction classic and has sold more than five million copies. It is very common for the loved ones of addicts and alcoholics to feel responsible for the affected person’s recovery. That’s a classic sign of codependency.
This book explains how to recognize codependent tendencies and regain your life. It’s especially helpful for people who feel that they’ve lost sight of who they are as they struggle to help a loved one.
Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction – David Sheff
It’s very common for parents to feel a sense of helplessness and failure if one of their children is struggling with addiction. David Sheff’s book is an eloquent memoir that combines honesty and compassion.
Any parent who has felt despair while trying to help their addicted child will relate to this book and find comfort in its pages.
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life – Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
When your loved one is struggling with addiction, it can be difficult to set healthy boundaries. This book explains why we can only control our own behavior and how doing so can ease the burden of watching a loved one struggle with addiction.
Everything Changes: Help for Families of Newly Recovering Addicts – Beverly Conyers
When your loved one makes a commitment to recovery, you may feel a sense of relief. However, family relationships require careful maintenance at this time. Beverly Conyers explains how to navigate your relationship when someone you care about is newly sober.
Podcasts That Deal with Alcoholism and Substance Abuse
You may prefer to listen to experts and people who have dealt with addiction talk about their experience. Podcasts are often free and can be listened to while driving to work, cleaning, or other activities., Below are several podcasts that can provide guidance, inspiration, and information to help you as you’re coping with substance addiction.
Clean and Sober Radio is a podcast that features real stories about addiction and recovery. While it’s not aimed specifically at the family and friends of addicts, the stories it features may help you understand what your loved one is experiencing.
Recovery Radio broadcasts every Saturday and features a rotating list of substance abuse and mental health experts from a variety of backgrounds. This is a podcast that can help you understand treatment options and learn about how addiction and recovery work.
The Addiction Support Podcast features common-sense support for the families and friends of addicts, including advice on how to manage your emotions surrounding the addiction.
My Child is an Addict: A Parent-to-Parent Podcast is ideal for parents who have children struggling with addiction.
The Sober Families Podcast features a series of talks aimed at the families of addicts and alcoholics.
There are other podcasts available. We recommend trying some of these and seeing if they appeal to you. You may want to choose one that focuses on talking about addiction and recovery and another that’s specifically designed for the family members of addicts.
Facebook is the world’s largest social media site and it is also a great resource for people whose family members or friends have struggled with addiction. There are pages and groups where you can talk about your experiences. Many are private or closed, which you may prefer if you don’t want your Facebook friends and connections to know just yet. Here are some that we recommend:
Our Treatment, Our Recovery a group for addicts and recovery addicts to share their story and inspire others.
Hope Not Handcuffs talks about recovery, treatment, and the need for hope in the face of addiction and alcoholism.
Support for Families and Friends of Alcoholics is a closed group that offers support and advice to people whose lives have been touched by alcoholism and alcohol abuse.
Alanon Support Group provides online access to the same resources and support you would expect to get if you attended an Al-Anon meeting, including information about the 12 steps.
Al-Anon Online Group is a closed group that is meant to replicate the experience of attending an Al-Anon meeting in person.
Nar-Anon Family and Friends Support Group offers help and support to the friends and family members of people struggling with drug abuse and addiction.
Additional Websites and Resources to Try
It’s not possible for us to go into detail about every resource available, but here’s a quick run-down of some additional resources to check out:
- Learn 2 Cope – a website with resources for families and friends of people who are struggling with heroin and opioid addiction
- Partnership at Drugfree.org – A website with information about parenting troubled teens and helping teens cope with addiction
- Getting Them Sober – a website that has information and resources to help family members living with an alcoholic. It also has an online forum where you can find support from people in similar situations.
- Parent Pathway – a website for parents of addicts of all ages, it includes an “Ask the Experts” forum where you can get answers to specific questions
- Recovering Couples Anonymous – a website and support group specifically for couples who are coping with addiction and alcoholism
These websites may offer more targeted support to help you deal with the situations and issues that are unique to your family.
Watching a loved one struggle with addiction is a challenge no matter who you are. The resources in this guide can help you get the support you need.
To learn more about Alpine Recovery Lodge’s treatment programs, please click here.