Narcotics Anonymous is a peer-based support group that helps thousands of addicted persons find their motivation to quit using drugs or to continue abstaining from them. But as anyone who’s had a brush with addiction knows, addiction is a disease that affects more than the person with the substance abuse problem. It often hurts friends, family, and other loved ones; those who care for or rely on the drug user. In recognition of this, a separate support group was made—a sort of Narcotics Anonymous for families and friends. If you’ve been hurt by someone else’s drug use, keep reading.
What Is Nar-Anon?
Nar-Anon Family Groups is a “worldwide fellowship for those affected by someone else’s addiction”, which can mean spouses, children, parents, friends, and coworkers. Nar-Anon closely follows the same format as Narcotics Anonymous as well as the same foundational core. Group meeting participants share their opinions, experiences, and frustrations in a confidential setting. Discussions and lessons are guided by a modified program based on the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts.
There is another subset of Nar-Anon focused towards teenagers who have a parent, family member, or friend who struggles with addiction, called Narateen.
The Benefits of Nar-Anon
Drug addiction is often referred to as a family disease because of how wide its impact can be. A person with a substance disorder may lose their job, causing food or housing insecurity for the entire household. Neurological damage can impact their behavior, making them more prone to dangerous or violent behavior or outbursts. Aside from the potential physical or financial burdens of living with an addict, these dysfunctional relationships can bear a heavy emotional toll as well.
Anger, frustration, guilt, shame, and grief are common feelings for those close to an addicted person to have. Being unable to convince their loved one to go to rehab; recognition of their patterns of enabling behavior; a discovery that they’d been lied to repeatedly. These are just a few of the circumstances that might lead to family and loved ones feeling trapped with emotions they don’t understand or can’t let go of.
Nar-Anon is a non-professional organization where loved ones can ask and give support to others dealing with similar struggles. Participants share their stories offering both commiseration, hope, and tips for dealing with what many feel like a traumatic experience. But Nar-Anon isn’t just a place to vent. Through a modified 12 step recovery program, it teaches how to be supportive towards the addicted loved one (without enabling) and how to cope with the stress of living with or loving an addict.
Helping Loved Ones Dealing With Addiction
If you are a close relative or friend of a person struggling with addiction, you’ve likely been impacted by their new behavior in some way shape or form. You’re not alone. Find comfort and get help from others who have been in your position and find a Nar-Anon group near you. Meanwhile, you might find it beneficial to recommend that your loved one attends Narcotics Anonymous meetings as well. This will give you both a better platform to understand one another and hopefully repair any damage that was done to the relationship.