The effects of watching a loved one struggle with addiction can be nothing short of devastating. In most cases, family members are left with a feeling of helplessness as they watch the person they love abuse drugs or alcohol, which generally leads to reckless decision-making and self-destructive behaviors. Thankfully, support groups for families of addicts are available to help you deal with the devastating mental effects of watching a family member battle an addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Family support groups may be provided by a rehab facility that your loved one is attending or by nonprofit organizations such as Al-Anon Family Groups, Nar-Anon Family Groups or Alateen. Listed below are five of the biggest benefits of attending family support groups when someone you love is facing addiction.
1. Connecting With People in Similar Situations
Sometimes, the best way to deal with trauma is by working through it alongside others who have faced or are facing a similar situation. Most people don’t understand how it feels to support an addict unless they’ve been in the situation themselves, and the simple act of sharing these struggles in support groups for families of addicts can help to minimize negative feelings such as stress, guilt and anger. Often, other group members have experienced the same specific issues and problems that you may be facing as a result of your loved one’s addiction. As such, they may be able to offer unique insight and solutions that your friends, family members or health care providers may not have considered.
2. Getting Additional Support to Cope With the Repercussions of Addicted Loved Ones
Sometimes, having an understanding shoulder to cry on is one of the best ways to cope with watching your loved one struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. A family support group can provide just that — support at a time when you need it most.
3. Learning How to Set Boundaries and Prevent Enabling Behavior
When you’re helping a family member who’s facing addiction, there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. Setting boundaries is a vital part of supporting your loved one as they recover from their addiction. Support groups for families of addicts can provide you with the tools you need to set important boundaries with your loved one and provide them the support they need from you without enabling them to abuse drugs or alcohol.
4. Letting Go of Anger and Resentment
There are a lot of emotions that family members experience while facing a loved one’s addiction. These include fear, sadness and guilt, but more than anything, you’re likely feeling angry and resentful about the situation you’re in. These feelings may be directed toward your loved one, another family member you feel is enabling them or the situation itself. Regardless of where you’re directing your feelings of anger and resentment, it’s important to let them go so that you can move on and provide your loved one with the love and support they need to get through this challenging time. A family support group can provide you with the counseling and tools you need to let these feelings go and work toward a more positive outlook.
5. Recognizing What Led to a Loved One’s Addiction and Gaining a Better Overall Understanding of Addiction
To help your family member in their recovery efforts, it’s important to first understand what led them to drink alcohol or use drugs and how addiction is affecting their brain. In support groups for families of addicts, you have opportunities to openly and honestly discuss your family member’s addiction — both with them and without them. These candid discussions are the best way to get to the root of the problem, and acknowledging that root is the best chance your loved one has for a successful recovery. In support groups, you’ll gain a better understanding of why addiction happens and the reasons it has become a part of your family’s life.