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Struggling With Your Loved One? A Guide To Support Groups For Family

The realities of addiction and mental illness impact more than just the struggling individual. The symptoms, consequences, and behaviors can affect everyone in the family system. From legal issues to severe emotional distress to physical health complications, these variables can cause numerous problems for everyone.

That said, participation in support groups for family members can spearhead strong, sustainable recoveries. When loved ones seek help for their difficulties, they often feel more capable and confident. As a result, they can set healthy boundaries with their loved ones. They can also provide practical support without enabling unwanted behaviors.

Unfortunately, loved ones often feel helpless or uncertain about how they can help. Additionally, they may not know the resources available to them. That’s because most information focuses on what the struggling individual needs to do. This guide will offer some useful resources to consider.

NAMI Family Support Group

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) offers peer-led support groups for adults with loved ones struggling with mental illness. These groups focus on crucial topics, including:

  • Utilizing healthy coping skills.

  • Taking on a nonjudgmental attitude.

  • Self-forgiveness.

  • Acceptance of individual circumstances.

  • Psychoeducation about mental illness.

NAMI support groups are free to attend. They are led by family members of people with mental illness. The meetings range from 60-90 minutes long, and they occur either weekly, biweekly, or monthly. All groups are confidential.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon provide a 12-step program for loved ones of people either struggling or recovering from addiction. These programs are free to attend. Anyone who identifies with the stress, fear, anger, or guilt over their loved one’s addiction is welcome to join.

Members are encouraged to attend routine meetings, obtain a sponsor, work the steps, and embrace a spiritual way of life. Teenagers can join Alateen, a program devoted to teenagers who have been impacted by a loved one’s substance use.

SMART Recovery Family & Friends

SMART (self-management and recovery training) offers effective and intuitive tools for loved ones. Their focus lies in cognitive therapy. The overarching goal is for loved ones to learn how to manage the emotional ups and downs associated with addiction.

SMART Recovery tends to steer away from absolute detachment or tough-love interventions. Instead, they emphasize healthy communication techniques and boundary-setting strategies.


Addiction-related deaths remain a tragic epidemic in America. In 2018, more than 67,300 people died from a drug-related overdose. Although we’re becoming increasingly more aware of substance use,

GRASP stands for the group, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing. This group provides support and healing for loved ones who have lost someone to substance use or addiction.

Many times, loved ones blame themselves for someone’s death. They hold a disproportionate responsibility for what they should have said or done. This blame can trigger immense shame, and that shame can prevail for many years. GRASP seeks to help people feel less isolated in their struggles. It also helps with providing a roadmap for recovery.

Therapeutic Groups

Many therapists facilitate groups for loved ones. Some of these groups may be open, meaning that anyone can join at any time. Other groups are closed, meaning that the facilitator designated specific start and end dates. Group costs vary, although some may be free. To

Group topics vary depending on the therapist, group size, and frequency of sessions. Typical topics may include:

  • Strengthening boundaries.

  • Self-esteem.

  • Tolerance and acceptance.

  • Education about addiction and mental illness.

  • Self-care.

  • Utilizing peer support.

A Note About Family Therapy

Many people benefit from attending both support groups and family therapy. The two services can complement one another, as they both focus on skill-building and strengthening relationships.

It’s hard loving someone with an addiction or mental health problems. Loved ones often lose themselves in trying to help. As a result, they may become exhausted or resentful, or both. Family therapy provides a safe place for everyone to work on:

  • Healthier boundaries and communication.

  • Trust and support.

  • Intergenerational trauma.

  • Financial issues.

  • Conflicts of interest related to recovery.

  • Accepting new changes in family members.

Family therapy can be short-term or long-term. This therapy encourages everyone to look at their own parts in healing and recovery.

Support Groups For Family And Loved Ones: Final Thoughts

Participation in support groups helps everyone in the family system. Loved ones learn new ways to understand mental illness and addiction. Struggling individuals often feel a greater sense of freedom to focus on themselves- without worrying so much about how they will impact their families.

At The Resurface Group, we wholeheartedly believe family support is a critical component in recovery. We know that recovery doesn’t happen in solitude- it can take an entire village. Our unique program helps loved ones every step of the way. Contact us today to learn more about our process.

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