by Dominica Applegate
Teen Struggling With Addiction? Attend Al-Anon and Nar-Anon For Support
It’s certainly challenging when our kids struggle with anything, but that struggle can be even tougher when our kids struggle with addiction. As a parent, we certainly want the best for our teens. In fact, we do our best to provide well for them, show them the love they deserve, and believe the best for them. But when addiction comes into play, our worlds can become shattered. We can become confused, angry, scared, and feel very alone.
The truth is that you may feel alone, but you’re not. There are many parents dealing with addiction issues with their teens and while this may or may not help you feel better, there are benefits to connecting with such parents.
Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Support Groups
Whether your teen is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, there are support groups available to help you navigate through this time. Al-Anon is a support group for those who have loved ones struggling with alcoholism. Nar-Anon is a support group for those who have loved ones struggling with drug addiction.
Both support groups are based on the 12 Step model of recovery. The 12 Step program is a set of principles that outline a course of action for recovery. In this case, the program helps you as a parent get through this time in your life (dealing with teen addiction) without losing your own mind, spiraling into depression, and so on.
It’s easy to get caught up in the life of an addict, which oftentimes can cause a parent to lose sight of his or her own life. Whereas maybe you used to spend time doing things you enjoy, you now spend a whole lot of time sitting home worrying about your addicted teen. Or maybe you’ve hit a wall of depression and feel like it’s somehow your fault your teen is addicted. Either way, attending a support group such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon can help you.
What are support group meetings like?
I’ve been to several support group meetings and I’ll admit that they weren’t as I pictured. They were better. For example, a small Nar-Anon group I visited several times consisted of about eight men and women, all of whom had loved ones in active addiction or in recovery from addiction. At the beginning of the meeting the person in charge read the 12 Steps of Nar-Anon and some other literature pertaining to the meeting. Then, the meeting was open for people to share their experiences and lessons learned with everyone.
I learned during that meeting that we all had one thing in common: A loved one was struggling with addiction (or staying clean) and we loved that person tremendously. It felt good to know that others were going through what I was going through and their experience, strength, and hope gave me a good dose of inspiration as I left the meeting. They let me know I wasn’t alone.
As a parent, we tend to think that when our kids “act out” or have behavioral issues, that perhaps it is our fault. Many parents whose kids are alcoholics or addicts feel guilty thinking somehow their parenting skills or lack thereof caused the addiction. This simply isn’t the truth. Sure, there are exceptions, but the majority of cases a teen falls prey to addiction based upon other factors than solely parenting skills.
Support groups remind us of this and help us to continue to work on ourselves even when our teens are going through addiction. When you attend a 12 Step group, you’ll be able to choose a sponsor, which is much like a mentor. He or she will volunteer his time to be there for you and encourage you. You’ll also be able to go over your steps with him should you wish. Having that one person to “ride the storm” with you can make all the difference in the world.
Is your teen struggling with addiction? Are you struggling emotionally or physically due to this? If so, consider looking into a support group like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. See if your spouse would like to attend a meeting with you. You may be surprised at how beneficial this may be to you and your family, as sometimes you simply need some support and encouragement as a parent.