5 Helpful Family Support Groups

Addiction is like a tornado. It tramples through people’s lives and harms the most innocent people. Families and relationships are strained, parents lose sleep wondering if their addicted children will be ok, and children of alcoholics live in fear. There are nearly infinite support groups and networks for addicts, but often people forget about the innocent bystanders who are forever scarred by addiction. Luckily, there are several programs for the relatives of addicts. These groups are similar to 12-step fellowships, except they support spouses, children, and friends who have been directly affected by addiction or alcoholism.

Family support groups teach people how to set boundaries and how to best support someone in recovery or active addiction. Addiction is often considered a family disease. This is because codependency and enabling frequently run rampant in homes with addicts. Families often try to help addicts- too much. They support their loved ones so much that the addict is never allowed to fail. Addicts know if they have someone to fall back on, and push that relationship to the limit. It sucks the lives out of relatives and often causes controversy amongst families. Family support groups work to stop the chaos.

Many family support groups are made up of people “in recovery” from unhealthy relationships. They can offer support and experience, just like AA. Many of these groups even have ‘sponsors’ similar to AA, where an experienced person can share how they recovered and offer 24/7 support to a new family in need.

There are even support groups for co-occurring conditions. Families and friends are often affected by the ripple of mental illness just like addiction. Some support groups offer help and experience for that as well. Here are some great groups to support families suffering from the effects of addiction or mental illness:


Al-Anon is one of the longest running family support groups in the country. It was founded in 1951 for the relatives and spouses of members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Now it is one of the largest support groups in the country and offers help and strength to friends and families of problem drinkers. At Al-Anon, families can find peace and comfort from people who once were in their shoes. Al-Anon offers advice as well as an outlet for people suffering from the ripple effects of alcoholism. The groups are free and can be found all over the country. The national website offers a meeting directory and more information about the program.

Al-Anon also has sub-group called Alateen. Alateen is specifically for teens that are affected by alcoholic families. The groups are slightly different than Al-Anon because most of the members are minors. Alateen usually has an adult leader in the group to lead the conversation as well as act as a mentor.


Adult Children of Alcoholics is another 12-step based support group. ACA has few formal requirements but was intended to offer support to those who grew up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional households. Those who grow up around alcoholics are often traumatized and rarely talk about their struggles. ACA offers a community of people who share the same struggles and can support each other, for free. ACA can be found all over the country.

women in a support group


Nar-Anon is similar to Al-Anon but focuses on drug addiction opposed to alcoholism. It is a 12-step based family support group for those affected by drug addiction. There are sponsors, meetings, and people who have recovered from their codependent or unhealthy relationships to offer support. Meetings can be found nationwide and the Nar-Anon website has a directory of meetings. Meetings are often held at AA or NA club houses.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a grassroots organization that support those living with or affected by mental illness. NAMI Family Support Group is a peer-led program that is similar to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, but specifically for mental illness. Most people with addiction are also suffering from an underlying mental illness, so these meetings could be very beneficial and eye-opening. NAMI offers support from those who have been in the same situations and can offer hope to new members. Meeting are free and confidential and can be found all over the country. Unlike Al-Anon or Nar-Anon, NAMI is not a 12-step fellowship. NAMI simply offers camaraderie and hope to families affected by the ripple of mental illness.


CoDA stands for Co-dependents Anonymous. This group offers support to people who have been in or are currently in co-dependent relationships. Co-dependence is extremely common in relationships strained by addiction. It can affect spouses and parents of addicts alike. This unhealthy type of relationship is the result of enabling one-another. Usually, each person in the relationship cannot support themselves without the other, or at least feel that way. These support groups are 12-step based and offer camaraderie and guidance to those suffering from co-dependence.

Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Stout Street today at 866-722-7040. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own person path in recovery.  You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.