When someone you know struggles with drug addiction, your first instinct may be to focus all of your attention on them. Keep in mind that you will also need guidance – or sometimes, simply a listening ear – as you cope with a loved one’s drug dependence. If your own quality of life has declined as a result of another person’s substance use – whether they are your child, parent, friend, coworker, or neighbor – it is time to seek help. Nar-Anon encourages healing among those who have been affected by someone else’s drug addiction using the principles of the 12 Steps.
Whether you realize it or not, your loved one’s addiction takes a toll on you – emotionally, mentally, and even physically. Nar-Anon meetings can help you gain the strength and support you need to be there for your loved one and yourself.
Like any unfamiliar experience, attending a Nar-Anon meeting may feel intimidating in the beginning, but once you know what to expect and break out of your comfort zone, you can begin your own parallel process of recovery. Here are four benefits of participating in a Nar-Anon meeting:
1. You gain greater insight into your loved one’s addiction
It can be easy to internalize societal prejudices against people suffering from addiction, making it all the more difficult to accept when someone close to you develops a substance use disorder. You may worry that your loved one will encounter stigma. If you have never experienced addiction first-hand, it is especially likely that you will also feel confused, disappointed, or agitated by your loved one’s destructive habits. By attending a Nar-Anon meeting, you are able to confront all of these difficult feelings in a safe space without fear of judgment. Listening to the stories of other attendees who have been affected by another’s drug use will enhance your understanding of addiction, allowing you to empathize more deeply with your loved one.
2. You develop a stronger support system
Nar-Anon unites people of different backgrounds with a common goal: recovery from another person’s addiction. Members are encouraged – but never required – to share their experiences during meetings and ask questions afterward. Nar-Anon meetings provide an outlet for bonding with others who are going through similar challenges, fostering a sense of community and belonging for those who may feel that they have nowhere else to turn.
3. You remind yourself you are not responsible for their addiction
When a loved one struggles with addiction, family members and friends sometimes feel that they should have or could have done more to help them, resulting in feelings of incompetence, frustration, and despair. Nar-Anon reminds members that they are not at fault for the actions of others. If you attend a meeting, you may be asked to repeat the three C’s of addiction: “I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, and I can’t control it.” By adopting this mantra, along with the tenets of the 12 Steps, you can shape a more positive outlook during this difficult time. Once you are able to accept that you are not responsible for your loved one’s addiction, you can invest more energy into your own recovery.
4. You rediscover yourself and make your voice heard
If you feel lost after discovering that your loved one has been misusing drugs, you are not alone. Nar-Anon gives you the space to reflect on your likes, dislikes, strengths and areas for improvement. One of the 12 Step principles discussed in the meetings will ask you to take a “searching and fearless moral inventory” of yourself, motivating growth and positive change. It similarly empowers you by giving you a platform to share your story and have your voice be heard. Your perspective may even point others in the right direction as they process the changes taking place in their own lives.
If you are feeling stuck after finding out about a loved one’s addiction, attending a family support group can be a powerful way to start moving forward. Nar-Anon puts you in contact with others who have walked in your shoes and want to see you achieve happiness. The group offers consolation while prompting you to recognize the role you play in your own recovery. Most importantly, it pushes you to leave guilt in the past and embrace a more hopeful future.