Finding Support for Families of Addicts

Addiction is far from an individual disease. It affects every relationship, including friends, spouses, children, parents, coworkers, and extended family members. Developing a substance use disorder can take months or years. During this time, relationships change, and each person takes on a new role. Not all roles are healthy. For example, some become enablers and think they are helping, even when they see their loved one spiral out of control. However, learning about and finding support for families of addicts can be one way to alleviate many of these changes and the stress that might be taking place.

Other friends and family may choose to end the relationship with the addict, and some may even develop their addiction. Their intentions are good, but as circumstances worsen, they are left feeling exhausted, hurt, angry, and confused. Without support, things will only get worse.

Therefore, finding support for families of addicts is a must. Currently, many great options offer recovery benefits for the family and help the person struggling with a substance use disorder.

What Exactly Is a Support Group?

Research shows the connections we make with others influence overall health and well-being. Psychology experts theorize it as being a basic human need. When humans connect with others, it gives them a feeling of belonging, being understood, and being part of something larger than themselves.

Support groups provide connections between people who have similar problems. Talking to people who can relate to your issues reduces stress, boosts mood, and build confidence. Additional benefits of support groups include feeling less alone, getting and giving helpful feedback, and improving coping skills.

When someone has a substance use disorder, they are not the only ones who need recovery treatment. Family members must recover from the distress caused by addiction. Family members need help in making healthy changes for themselves. They can get this in support groups.

Which Support Groups Help Families of Addicts?

Below is a list to help anyone searching for support for families of addicts. The groups offer in-person and online support at no cost to the participant.


Alcohol is a substance of abuse for millions of people. That means millions of families are also affected by an alcohol use disorder. Al-Anon is specifically for the adults in these families. Often, adults affected by a person’s alcoholism have the following in common:

  • They fear their loved one will die
  • They try to scare their loved one into recovery by giving ultimatums
  • They feel like alcohol is more important than they are to their loved one
  • They have felt embarrassed by their loved one’s behaviors
  • They feel depressed, anxious, fearful, or hurt much of the time

Anyone who can relate to these statements can benefit from attending an Al-Anon meeting. Al-Anon’s foundation is based on the twelve-step fellowship and traditions.


Alateen is like Al-Anon but for teens affected by a family member’s alcohol use disorder. Members work through the twelve steps and traditions. The support group gives teens a place to share their stories that is safe and confidential. Teens are vulnerable, and without support and guidance, they, too, may make poor choices to cope with their emotions.

At Alateen, group members can learn why their loved ones drink and why they cannot “just stop.” They can also learn to set healthy boundaries and how to cope appropriately. They meet other teens with similar problems, letting them know they are not the only ones facing these struggles.

NAMI Family Support Group

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers groups for family members of people with mental health issues. Mental health disorders often co-occur with substance use disorders. For example, someone with an alcohol use disorder may develop a depressive disorder. Or someone with anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder may start misusing drugs or alcohol to cope with their emotions.

Family members are affected by both disorders. NAMI groups can teach them how to cope, understand mental illness as a disease, eliminate guilt, and start enjoying life again.


Nar-Anon is a twelve-step fellowship support group for family members of a person with a drug use (narcotics) disorder. Some common characteristics of Nar-Anon members include the following:

  • They feel they cannot trust their loved one with a drug problem
  • They experience theft, lies, and manipulation by their loved one
  • No matter what they do to help, it doesn’t work
  • They feel isolated and alone but are too afraid and embarrassed to talk about it with other family and friends
  • They fear losing their home, car, and other much-needed things


Narateen is like Alateen, but the support group deals with teens with families with a substance use disorder instead of an alcohol use disorder. These support groups are not as widespread as other groups, but it is simple to start one. It takes two certified facilitators, which can include teachers, counselors, or non-related adults. Leaders guide members through the twelve-step process.

To join Narateen, you must be at least thirteen, have a family member or close friend with a substance use disorder, and desire to share experiences with other teens.

Families Anonymous

Families Anonymous is based on the twelve steps but is a group not as recognizable as Al-Anon, but it has been around since 1971. It originated in California to give the family and friends of an addict a more inclusive level of support. The group doesn’t focus just on alcohol or just on drugs. It does not exclude anyone because of age or relationship with someone misusing substances. It covers mental health, substance misuse, and behavioral problems and allows anyone affected to attend. Spouses, children, grandparents, friends, coworkers, and siblings can attend the group and simultaneously receive support.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART) for family and friends recognize tough love and traditional methods don’t always work when trying to help someone with a substance use disorder. The support group follows a curriculum that teaches you how to help someone without confrontation, intervention, or ultimatums.

You work on improving your skills using educational tools.

Support for Families of Addicts at the Mental Health Center

Support groups are available, affordable, and accessible. Begin your research today to determine which type of group is best for you and your family.

At the Mental Health Center, we offer a 30-minute pre-consultation for families before the first appointment begins. For more information and to learn how to get started, contact us today.