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Updated on March 23, 2023
5 min read

Support Groups for Families of Alcoholics

What Does Alcoholism Do to Family Members?

Having a loved one struggle with alcoholism can be challenging. Fortunately, many support groups are accessible to the family members and friends of people with addiction.

One of the most important parts of alcohol treatment is the support system surrounding the person in recovery.

If you’re a family member of someone going through treatment for alcoholism, you can significantly impact their recovery by showing your support.

However, dealing with a loved one’s alcohol addiction can be emotionally straining. Family members and friends don’t always have the energy or resources to provide enough crucial support. In these cases, alcohol family support groups can help.

Family support groups are helpful for families and the person struggling with alcoholism. These groups connect people with other families going through similar experiences.

Family support groups allow people to:

  • Share and vent
  • Learn and grow
  • Figure out how to move forward as a family dealing with alcohol issues
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Are There Support Groups for Family Members of Alcoholics?

Various alcohol family support groups are available to help families work through alcoholism issues.

Al-Anon

Al-Anon is a worldwide fellowship. It's a recovery program for families and friends of people with alcohol addiction.

Providing support for someone with alcoholism can be emotionally and mentally challenging.

Al-Anon provides several resources that can help, including:

  • Tools to find local meetings
  • Quizzes to see if your needs align with the organization’s mission
  • Frequently asked questions to address common concerns

Alateen

Alateen is part of the Al-Anon fellowship. It’s a program aimed at adolescent members of families affected by alcoholism.

Like Al-Anon, Alateen focuses on helping with common problems that family members of people with alcoholism face. 

For example:

  • Self-esteem issues
  • Excessive caretaking
  • Blame
  • Guilt

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL)

Parents of Addicted Loved Ones is a Christian-run non-profit. It’s guided by one founding phrase “People helping people through the woods.”

PAL meetings typically take place weekly. They provide support for parents who have children addicted to alcohol or drugs. 

These support groups include educational and sharing components.

Families Anonymous

Families Anonymous is another 12-step program. It’s designed to help family members of people addicted to alcohol or drugs or those with related behavioral health conditions.

This support group focuses on the similarities between participants' experiences. This is to show that many other families share the same challenges.

SMART Recovery Family & Friends

SMART Recovery is a secular alternative to Al-Anon and similar spirituality-based interventions. This science-based program is designed to help the family members and friends of people struggling with addiction.

This support group offers meetings in many cities. It uses non-confrontational methods to help family members and friends cope with their loved ones’ addictions.

Grief Recovery After Substance Passing (GRASP)

Grief Recovery After Substance Passing is a support community designed to help people who’ve lost someone due to addiction and overdose. 

GRASP provides an outlet for the mental and emotional struggle of having and losing a loved one to alcoholism or drug use.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offers a broader support group for the family members of anyone who’s experienced a mental health condition.

Membership is free, and the weekly support group is provided for adult family members.

Learn to Cope

Learn to Cope is a peer-led support network. It provides education, resources, and assistance for families with loved ones affected by substance abuse.

This support group offers 27 ‘chapters’ throughout Massachusetts. They also have a chapter in Florida and an online forum where they host virtual meetings.

Recovering Couples Anonymous

Recovering Couples Anonymous offers support for couples struggling with substance abuse. This support aims to help them restore healthy communication and intimacy.

Benefits of Family Support Groups

Group participation allows you to connect with people likely to have a shared experience and purpose. Therefore, you’re more likely to understand one another.

The primary benefits of alcohol family support groups include:1

  • Feeling less lonely, isolated, or judged
  • Reducing distress, depression, anxiety, or tiredness
  • Sharing feelings openly and honestly
  • Improving coping skills
  • Remaining motivated to manage chronic conditions or stick to treatment plans
  • Gaining a sense of empowerment, control, or hope
  • Improving understanding of alcoholism and your experiences with it
  • Receiving practical feedback about treatment options
  • Learning about health, economic, or social resources related to alcoholism
  • Improving social networks
  • A better understanding of loved ones’ illnesses and how others cope in similar situations
  • Improving family relationships

Mental illness can’t be isolated to one person. Even when treated, one family member’s strains can cause complications and problems that can impact everyone.

Seeking support for the whole family is essential. Alcohol family support groups benefit everyone and help protect against negative risk factors.

By participating in alcohol family groups, members will likely learn more about their loved one’s illness and how others cope in similar situations. Family members can learn to heal from the struggles developed from having loved ones suffer from addiction.

Participants can also expect to strengthen their bonds and relationships as a family unit. Concepts learned in individual and family therapy will be reinforced and strengthened.2

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How to Find Family Support Groups

Information about alcohol family support groups may be available from:1

  • Your doctor
  • Your clinic
  • Your hospital
  • Non-profit organizations that support particular medical conditions or life changes
  • National Institutes of Health websites for specific diseases and conditions

If there’s a particular support group you’re interested in, you can also find out information about in-person and virtual family support groups on each organization’s website:1

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Summary

  • Family support groups connect people with other families struggling with similar experiences.
  • Many support groups are available for the family members of people living with alcoholism, including Al-Anon, Alateen, Families Anonymous, and GRASP.
  • Alcohol family support groups help families feel less lonely, reduce distress and depression, and help people share their feelings openly and honestly.
  • Information about local alcohol family support groups may be available from your doctor, clinic, or hospital.
Updated on March 23, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on March 23, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Support groups: Make connections, get help, Mayo Clinic, August 2022
  2. Ponnuchamy, L et al. “Family support group in psychosocial rehabilitation.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 47,3, 2005
  3. Lander, Laura et al. “The impact of substance use disorders on families and children: from theory to practice.” Social work in public health vol. 28,3-4, 2013
  4. Daley, Dennis C. “Family and social aspects of substance use disorders and treatment.” Journal of food and drug analysis vol. 21,4, 2013
  5. McCrady, Barbara S, and Julianne C Flanagan. “The Role of the Family in Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery for Adults.” Alcohol research : current reviews vol. 41, 2021
  6. Lookatch, Samantha J et al. “Effects of Social Support and 12-Step Involvement on Recovery among People in Continuing Care for Cocaine Dependence.” Substance use & misuse vol. 54,13, 2019
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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