Support group offers hope to families touched by addiction

Someone you know may be an addict; in fact, you may love an addict yourself.

Addiction to illegal substances - yes, drugs - destroys families. Using is personal to each individual, who often believes their actions affect only themselves; not surprising, because addiction to drugs is often described as an egocentric disease.

As the user destroys their life, those people around them are drawn into the insanity. Thus, they become "sick," too. That's why substance use disorder is often referred to as the "family disease."

In 1998, when addiction crossed over my threshold and entered into my family, I had no clue. I expected it to be a minor inconvenience interrupting our lives. I was sadly mistaken.

After several years of feeling broken and exhausted, someone referred me to a support group for myself called Nar-Anon Family Group. When I discovered that not one chapter existed within a 50-mile radius of Brattleboro, I learned more about bringing one to our community. We have one that has actually been in existence for over 20 years now.

For the addict, hope is on the horizon. More services are becoming available and, while stigma still exists, I believe people in our community are becoming educated, more knowledgeable, and interested in making a difference by helping others who find themselves ready to take the plunge into recovery.

But today, I want to focus on hope for family and friends who need just as much support as the people they love who are suffering from the disease of addiction.

The basic purpose of support groups is to provide mutual aid and emotional support to those who share the same predicament. Facilitators, based upon their personal experiences, guide and offer perspective that lends itself to look at a whole picture. It takes practice to not address the many parts of a sum-total problem but to take each segment, then figure out the best way to address the situation. This is is our "one day at a time" thinking.

If you feel damaged and are suffering behind closed doors, not knowing where to turn, all as the result of a loved one with the disease of addiction, please consider attending our support group, and then make a commitment to attend at least six meetings and draw from the experience of those of us who can offer education, support, and hope (and - most importantly - a listening ear).

And although nothing can cure addiction - simply stated - you can develop tools for survival from this insidious disease.

Our weekly Nar-Anon Family Group meeting is open to all every Monday at 7 p.m., St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 16 Bradley Ave., Brattleboro.

Additional information can be found at nar-anon.org or by contacting me at 802-345-4145 or [email protected].

Susan Avery


This letter to the editor was submitted to The Commons.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates