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30 Aug Al-Anon: 12 Steps for Those Supporting an Addict


Just like addicts have 12-step support groups available to them, the families and loved ones of those supporting an addict have this resource available to them, too. Oftentimes, the loved ones of an addict are in need of some counseling and support themselves as they try to manage the damage the disease has created in their life. Al-anon and other 12-step support groups are meant to offer this support, and give members a constructive way to deal with addiction.

Working Through the 12 Steps

Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. While the addict must learn to overcome his addiction and rebuild his life, those who are closely associated with him have some work of their own to do. They must learn to stop co-dependent relationships from continuing, and learn to care for their own lives as the addict is rebuilding his. The mantra of “Let go and let God,” is repeated time and time again in Al-anon meetings as the loved ones of addicts turn toward a Higher Power to fix the problems they are unable to fix alone.

Al-anon and other family support groups have adopted the 12-steps from AA almost word for word, and work through them in order to rid their lives from the influences of addiction. As you read through the 12 steps, it’s easy to see how these principles apply to those supporting an addict, just as they do to the addict himself. Recognizing God’s existence and that He is the only one who can heal this disease, and humbly asking Him to do so is just the beginning when it comes to clearing addiction out of a family.

Encouraging and Understanding an Addict

When an addict enters a recovery program for addiction, his entire support system needs to change. Family members and friends need to think about how to respond to the addict, and how to manage the disease. Learning about addiction and the behavioral patterns it causes will help the loved ones of an addict determine how they should deal with this disease, and how they can encourage an addict in recovery. There is a fine line between lending support and hampering progress, and this line is best defined through experience. Meeting in a family recovery group helps those supporting an addict learn from the experiences of others how to manage addiction, and how to best lend their support.

Welcoming and Giving Comfort

It’s not only the addict who emerges from the grasp of addiction feeling tired, worn-down, and hopeless. Those closest to him will experience these same feelings as well, and they’ll need somewhere to turn for some spiritual nourishment. Al-anon support groups provide a place where those supporting an addict can feel welcomed, and can receive some much-needed comfort. Conversely, those offering comfort and advice have the opportunity to connect with others and progress through their own journey as they do so. Studying the description of an AA meeting, and then reading the description for an Al-Anon meeting makes it clear the same support that addicts need to overcome addiction is needed by their family and friends as well. Just like AA and other 12-step support groups, Al-Anon groups can be found in almost every community and are open to the public for free.

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