Resources for Parents of Drug and/or Alcohol Addicted Teens and Young Adults
When a teen or young adult develops a drug or alcohol addiction, it often tears the family apart. This is especially true for parents, who tend to blame themselves. Blame, along with fear and anxiety, can cripple the family as everyone deals with this heart-wrenching situation. There are resources available to help parents, family and friends of the addict or alcoholic get the relief they so desperately need.
You’re doing everything you can to get your child the help she needs, now it’s your turn. Your life has been turned upside down. You have been panic-stricken for months now and you are suffering in your marriage, family life, with your other children, your job and even your finances. It’s time for you to take care of yourself. You’ll serve your family much better when you feel better and you’ll be able to offer the appropriate support to your teen or young adult whether or not they are in rehab.
Here are several resources available to help the friends and family of the addict:
Al-Anon is a 12-Step program based on the Alcoholics Anonymous model. This group is a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experiences, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problem. In Al-Anon you will find support, insight and understanding. But most importantly, you will find hope.
Al-Anon was started by the wives of men that were in Alcoholics Anonymous. These women would gather together while their husbands were in meetings. They realized their own need for change and soon they talked over their own difficulties and helped each other find solutions by applying the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Steps to their own lives. Today both men and women attend Al-Anon groups.
This group will support you and help you realize that you are not alone in your struggle and you will learn how you can change your behaviors and attitudes about their journey in sobriety.. Al-Anon also has a great library of books and resources to help you. Al-Anon teaches how to avoid standing in the way of the alcoholic’s recovery.
There are no dues or fees at the meetings. Each group is self-supporting and collects donations that are used for local expenses such as room rent and supplies.
Ala-Teen is the same program as Al-Anon but it is designed for teenagers, most of whom have an alcoholic parent, though many attend because a sibling or friend is an alcoholic.
If your child is addicted to drugs, Nar-Anon might be the more appropriate group for you to attend. This is the support group for family and friends of those with substance addiction that is the equivalent of Al-Anon. Nar-Anon is based on the Narcotics Anonymous 12-Step model, which is based on the AA 12-Step model. They also have an extensive library of resources.
Nar-Anon is for those who know or have known a feeling of desperation due to the addiction problem of someone close to them. The meetings are free to attend and are supported by donations. Nar-Anon is a non-professional fellowship whose members share their experiences, strength, and hope to solve their common problem. Nar-Anon is not a replacement for and does not provide professional treatment.
If your area does not have Nar-Anon meetings, Al-Anon will serve the same function to you as Nar-Anon.
Parents often times feel that their child’s addiction is somehow their fault. The guilt and anguish you feel when your teen or young adult has a drug and/or alcohol problem can interfere with your life. Your marriage, your other children, and your job all suffer. Depression and despair become commonplace and your suffering worsens as you see your child fall into the depths of addiction.
Seeking individual therapy can help. Trained psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors will be able to help you discover how to overcome these feelings that are tearing you apart. They will also help you to find happiness again and live your life in a way that is not dependant on your child’s recovery.
Many times the brothers and sisters of the addict suffer because of the emotional strain, financial strain and lack of energy left at the end of the day when an addiction has taken your child hostage. Family therapy can help your other children learn to cope with their sibling’s addiction and talk about how it is affecting their lives.
Talking about how everyone in the family feels, making plans together and coming together as a unit will only strengthen your family’s core and it will help everyone to understand that the addicted person’s decision are not anyone in the family’s fault.
You will also learn how to insure that you and the rest of the family do not enable the addict. Learning how to not make excuses and to practice “tough love” is difficult. For the children, learning about addiction may avert them from following in the addicted sibling’s footsteps and save everyone from going through the nightmare that is addiction again. Siblings will also learn how that it is in the best interest for themselves and everyone in the family to talk to the parents when they see their addicted sibling doing something that he or she should not be doing.
The financial, physical and emotional strain that your teen or young adult’s addiction places on you can affect your marriage also. Many parents find that they have little else to give after they have dealt with their child’s addiction. When this goes on for very long, tempers flare and often the blame-game begins.
Seeking marriage counseling before things get out of control, or at any point, will strengthen your marriage and help your family, especially your child that is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. Counseling will help you and your spouse learn to function as a team to support your child and to change behaviors and habits that may be affecting his or her recovery.
There are books and pamphlets that are offered at Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings. In addition to these, there are numerous memoir-type books that tell the journey a parent just like you went through. Countless books exist on addiction, for the addict and for those who love the addict also.
Education can help you to understand the psychology behind addiction and you will discover different things that have worked for different people.
Taking care of yourself has to become a top priority. If you are running on empty you will not serve your child, your spouse and your other children in the way that is most helpful. And if you do not help yourself, you will find that your despair only worsens. Reach out for help. Get the support you need and deserve.
Remember that your happiness cannot depend on your child’s addiction. You have to learn to find happiness for yourself. Having hope for your child, your family and for yourself will give you the motivation you need to carry on and carry on you must.