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Family Support Groups : help, hope and support for loved ones
family support groups
Written by Amy Paradyz

A ripple effect is felt far and wide by active addiction and often those closest are the most affected. One out of four of us is affected by someone else’s addiction, and there is help, hope and support for us too.
Some programs are anonymous. Some specific to alcoholism. Some specific to narcotics. Some for grieving friends and family.

All of it free.

Journey has compiled this list of options available in Maine, including Nar-Anon, The Family Restored Family Support Group, GRASP (Grief After a Substance Passing) and Al-Anon; each group offers support in different ways. If you’re looking for some solace and connection around another’s alcoholism or addiction, you’re not alone, and there’s hope, help and healing available. (Information reprinted from the organization’s website where noted.)

Nar-Anon

A 12-step program for family & friends of addicts from their website:

The Nar-Anon Family Groups are a worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction. As a Twelve Step program, we offer our help by sharing our experience, strength, and hope.

Nar-Anon’s Vision

We will carry the message of hope throughout the world to those affected by the addiction of someone near to them.

We do this by:

  • letting them know they are no longer alone;
  • practicing the Twelve Steps of Nar-Anon;
  • encouraging growth through service;
  • making information available through outreach encompassing public information, hospitals, institutions, and websites; and changing our own attitudes.

 

Susan’s Nar-Anon story

Susan, a Portland member, found the support group nine years ago when her son was in active addiction.

“I was worried sick,” she says. “I didn’t know what to do, who to talk to or who I could trust. But I realized the first minute that I was in that room that I was in the right place. A lot of us come to a support group because we want to save someone. But we discover that we, too, need support. Nar-Anon is the most powerful group that I’ve ever been in. I got my life back, and I am able, even now, to find joy in the midst of grief. Being there is now a way of life for me. We watch each other grow and change and come back to our true selves. We’re learning to undo the behaviors that aren’t serving us anymore.”

To find a group anywhere—including virtual groups:  www.nar-anon.org

The Family Restored

The Family Restored support group takes a unique approach. People in recovery facilitate the meetings and use their personal experience to help educate and support families. The meetings are solution-based and provide insight into the mind and behaviors of people struggling with addiction and what eventually worked in helping them recover.

Eric’s Family Restored story:

“As people in recovery, we recognize that the people who are affected by our addiction the most are the people closest to us—our families,” says Eric Girard, co-founder and Executive Director.

Eric, who is in long-term recovery, says that his own family attended a support group in Massachusetts, where “they learned to set healthy boundaries with me.”

The Family Restored support groups have expanded beyond Maine to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont—with some groups meeting virtually.

For more information: www.thefamilyrestored.org

Grieving Recovery After A Substance Passing (G.R.A.S.P.)

from their website

Grief Recovery After Substance Passing (GRASP) was created to offer understanding, compassion, and support for those who have lost someone they love through addiction and overdose.

Too many times we suffer not only the death of the person we love, but we become isolated in our grief. We feel, and too many times it is true, that no one understands our pain.

But at GRASP, we do. We have suffered this same kind of loss and we have found the love and connection that only those who have lived this loss can give another. And while the pain of this loss will always be with us, we have found through GRASP that we don’t have to walk the road that is our pain alone.

We walk it together; hand in hand and heart to heart.

Mary’s GRASP Story

“On June 11, 2018, our son passed from a heroin overdose,” says Mary Rodimon, who co-founded the Portland chapter of Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP) with her husband Jim.

The Rodimons felt a need to talk with people who had been through it, and they visited a GRASP chapter in Augusta.

“To have somebody else who had gone through it was helpful,” Mary says, “Not that it alleviates the pain. But helping people is the best way to get through it. Well, you never really get through it, but you learn to live with it. The benefits of the meetings, for me and my husband, is that you can talk about anything that you can’t necessarily talk about with other people. You can let it all out and cry. Or you can share things that helped you to carry the grief better.”

Maine has three GRASP chapters: Biddeford/Saco, Portland and Augusta. For more information: www.grasphelp.org.

Al-Anon Family Groups:

12-step program for family & friends of alcoholics from their website:

The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics who share their experience, strength, and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization, or institution; does not engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause.

There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions. Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.

From John L., a member doing public outreach

“Al-Anon provides me the support to work through the issues I have related to the alcoholism in my family,” he says. “I went to my first meeting and felt immediately comfortable. Members share their experience, strength, and hope about how they deal or dealt with common problems related to the effects of alcoholism on them. I felt like I’d been waiting my whole life for this support. It was like acquiring a new family that could fill the gaps that my family of birth could not fill due to the effects of alcoholism on them, thus the name Al-Anon Family Groups. We believe that alcoholism is a family disease and that no one in the family escapes its effects. We keep the focus on ourselves, and not on the alcoholic.”

The overarching principle of Al-Anon is anonymity. There are no leaders. No one is in charge. And it’s been working since 1951. Al-Anon is a fellowship of family and friends affected by another’s alcoholism, which hosts 24,000 meetings—in-person, Zoom and tele-conferences—in 133 countries worldwide.

Maine has more than 100 Al-Anon meetings each week; visit them online at www.maineafg.org or call 1.800.498.1844.

Amy Paradyz

Amy Paradyz

Amy Paradysz writes for Journey, Maine Women Magazine, Green & Healthy Maine Homes and the Portland Press Herald. She has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She lives in Scarborough.