Often in addiction treatment circles, we hear that addiction is a family disease, affecting not just the addict, but also all those around the addict. Stories of the family addiction can best be told by those who have watched in horror as a loved one spirals out of control in addiction. Addiction itself is a very complicated disease, and many organizations and groups have been set up in order to assist family members, such as Al-Anon for loved ones of alcoholics, and Nar-Anon for loved ones of drug addicts. Just as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous serve as a strong support system for those struggling to understand and live with their addictions, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon serve similar purposes for the families and friends trying to learn to love and help the alcoholics and addicts close to them.
Unfortunately, many people erroneously believe that they do not need any help since they are not the ones struggling with the addiction. However, the fact is that addiction affects everyone close to the addict in different ways, and it takes all those close to the addict to serve as support in recovery. It takes time and effort for the loved ones of addicts and alcoholics to overcome the effects of addiction in their own lives, but like the addict, loved ones must also admit to needing help.
If you are close to an alcoholic or an addict and struggle with decisions regarding the addicted individual, the Al-Anon World Service Office offers a self test to help you determine whether or not you may benefit from the support offered by Al-Anon or Nar-Anon.
Do you worry about how much someone else drinks/uses?
Do you have money problems because of someone else's drinking /using?
Do you tell lies to cover up for someone else's drinking/using?
Do you feel that if the drinker/user cared about you, he/she would stop drinking/using to please you?
Do you blame the drinker's/user's behavior on his or her companions?
Are plans frequently upset or cancelled or meals delayed because of the drinker/user?
Do you make threats such as, "If you don't stop drinking/using, I'll leave you"?
Do you secretly try to smell the drinker's breath or observe signs of using?
Are you afraid to upset someone for fear it will set off a drinking or using bout?
Have you been hurt or embarrassed by the drinker's/user's behavior?
Are holidays and gatherings spoiled because of drinking/using?
Have you considered calling the police for help in fear of abuse?
Do you search for hidden alcohol or drugs?
Do you ever ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking or using?
Have you refused social invitations out of fear of anxiety?
Do you feel like a failure because you can't control the drinking/using?
Do you think that if the drinker/user stopped drinking/using, your problems would be solved?
Do you ever threaten to hurt yourself to scare the drinker/user?
Do you feel angry, confused, or depressed most of the time?
Do you feel there is no one who understands your problems?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you, too, could benefit from Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Most Al-Anon and Nar-Anon groups hold one to several meetings every week in your area, and all are welcome to come and receive and give hope to others.