From the ACA website: “Adult Children of Alcoholics is an anonymous Twelve Step program for people who grew up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional home. We meet in a mutually respectful, safe environment and acknowledge our common experiences. We discover how childhood affected us in the past and influences us in the present. We take positive action. By practicing the Twelve Steps, focusing on The Solution, and accepting a loving Higher Power of our understanding, we find freedom from the past and a way to improve our lives today.”
Al-Anon is a support resource for people who are affected by another person’s drinking. It is a mutual help group based on the structure and principles of Alcoholics Anonymous but focused on the needs and issues of those who are in close relationships with someone with AUD.
Al-Anon states that “members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.”
Alateen is part of Al-Anon and is specifically for teenagers who are in a close relationship with an alcohol-dependent person. If there is a not an Alateen meeting available, teens are encouraged to attend an Al-Anon meeting instead. Al-Anon and Alateen meetings are free (contributions are appreciated) and run by peers.
Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) is an evidence-based program that helps families and friends of substance users encourage their loved ones to enter addiction treatment, while simultaneously improving their own lives. The CRAFT method uses a motivational approach and avoids confrontation or judgement. CRAFT teaches concerned significant others (CSO’s) how to lower their loved one’s defenses and help them feel understood by asking open-ended questions, complimenting positive behaviors, and utilizing other non-confrontational techniques. Once a person feels safe and understood, they are more likely to be receptive to help.
CRAFT has three goals: to move the substance user towards treatment; reduce their alcohol or drug use even if they are not yet in treatment; and improve the lives of concerned friends and family. The program uses behavioral coaching to teach CSO’s skills in communication and problem solving, rapport building, positive reinforcement, self-care, domestic violence safety precautions, and how to support sober behavior and discourage substance use. CRAFT encourages CSO’s to become more independent and reduce their own symptoms of anxiety, depression and anger, regardless of whether or not their loved one enters treatment.
CRAFT was built on the premise that CSO’s can play a powerful role in motivating change. Because CSO’s tend to know the substance user well, they are therefore in a strong position to discuss the costs and benefits of substance use. CRAFT teaches CSO’s how to use reinforcements and rewards, and the importance of allowing the substance user to suffer the consequences of their choices and behavior. Some of the techniques CSO’s are taught are to be hopeful, be brief and talk about specific behaviors when discussing concerns, and offer alternatives for the future.
Families Anonymous (FA) is a 12-step program and resource for the families and friends of those affected by drug and alcohol addiction. FA was created over 40 years ago by a group of parents who were searching for ways to cope with their children’s substance use and related issues.
While similar in structure to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, FA has no affiliation with any other group. They do not charge dues or fees but are self-supporting through member donations. FA holds meetings in over 35 U.S. states and 15 countries and adds new meetings as needed. They also offer online e-meetings that are available anytime, structured as an email discussion group comprised of members from around the world. Their online bi-monthly newsletter can be accessed for free, and they offer a catalog of literature for sale.
From the FA website: “Addiction is a family illness that impacts the lives of every member of the family. In our meetings, we learn how we can stop being part of the problem and become part of the solution. We can learn to find peace and serenity by practicing the FA program, even in the midst of the chaos and insanity.”
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACoA) is a membership and affiliate organization working on behalf of children of alcohol and drug dependent parents. They work to raise public awareness and advocate for effective and accessible education and prevention services. NACoA offers a variety of programs and products, including videos, books, posters, and other educational training tools for therapists, educators, parents, clergy and other youth-serving adults. NACoA will send information packets to all who ask.
NACoA has developed resource materials that can be downloaded online for free, including kits for:
NACoA has a Student Assistance Program (SAP) which is a comprehensive (K-12) school-based program intended to identify issues that interfere with students’ learning and success in school and provide education, prevention, early identification, intervention, referral, and support groups for affected students.
There is also a clergy program which offers courses such as Certificate in Spiritual Caregiving to Help Addicted Persons and Families and Preventing Alcohol and Drug Problems: A Course for Clergy. There are associated fees for some courses.
For children: Just 4 Kids site>
A self-proclaimed alternative to Al-Anon, Smart Recovery offers its own support for Concerned Significant Others (CSO) who are affected by the addictions of people in their lives. They conduct online support meetings and a limited number of in-person meetings at this time.
Smart Recovery F&F is continuing to add information about in-person group meetings to their website as the groups are formed. There is also an online forum for families and friends, which offers the opportunity for dialogue with others in similar situations. The message board can be found halfway down the main page of the SMART Recovery forum under “Specialized Group Forums.”
Smart Recovery operates an online bookstore where they sell training books on CRAFT (Community Reinforcement and Family Training) and other materials.