Older parent going to al-anon meeting

3 Reasons Why Parents Should Consider Going to Al-Anon

There are three simple, common-sense reasons parents should consider going to Al-Anon or Nar-Anon when a child is experiencing a substance use disorder: Education, healthy boundaries and self-care.

Attending Al-Anon actually improves your child’s chances of seeking treatment and remaining in recovery. Substance use disorders are medical conditions impacting the entire family. When one family seeks treatment, either outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation treatment, the whole family benefits.

The Ranch Pennsylvania understands the challenges of parenting a child with a substance use disorder. We know the exhaustion, worry, and fear. Together, we can sort out a plan of action for you. In turn, taking care of yourself will give your child a better chance at recovery.

Like the cliché says, putting the oxygen mask on yourself first will help your child.

Parenting a Child with Addiction

If you have a child with an active substance use disorder, chances are good you feel tired. Watching your child experience active addiction is exhausting and something like watching a bullet train headed straight for a cliff. The experience is terrifying and sucks up enormous energy.

What’s surprising to many parents dealing with a child’s addiction, is the idea that your own self-care can actually improve the chances of your loved one’s recovery.

So, if I take my eyes off my loved one, I can help them get better? Yes.

The twelve-step program of Al-Anon was created in 1951, sixteen years after Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). Al-Anon was intended to help families dealing with addiction. The program is anonymous and a place for loved ones to find support and information about substance use disorders.

Read the opening statement taken from the Al-Anon meeting format to get a better idea of how the program works.

Education and Going to Al-Anon

If a child seeks treatment for a substance use disorder or actively uses drugs or alcohol, even simple daily tasks can become overwhelming. This response is perfectly normal, and something Al-Anon and Nar-Anon literature discuss. Literature also discusses the progression of the disorder, anxiety around potential harm to your child, obsessive worrying and a tendency to try to control your child’s behavior.

When we know others have survived the same challenges we are currently experiencing, we are empowered.

Both Al-Anon and Nar-Anon have countless books and pamphlets designed to comfort loved ones and educate them. This addiction education helps families remain connected to others simply by showing addiction is a shared experience.

In Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, you will learn:

  • Addiction is a family disease.
  • It’s not your fault; you didn’t create your child’s problem.
  • You aren’t alone.

Boundaries and Self-Care

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon are meant to support you, not the person with the substance use disorder. These programs help individuals define and develop healthy boundaries. In addition, members are encouraged to make self-care a priority.

Individuals with an active or newly recovering substance use disorder can create chaos, drama and intensity without meaning to. It isn’t malicious.

Substance use disorders chemically alter brain chemistry. Altered brains need time to recover. Before and during recovery, the behavior of your child will be erratic. Don’t expect a 24-hour cure for someone with a substance use disorder. Recovery is a life-long process and requires patience.

You will need some recovery time yourself. The experience isn’t simple.

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon help members:

  • Create time for themselves without overexerting themselves to help their child. You aren’t any good to anyone if you are exhausted from “helping.”
  • It’s okay to say, “No.” If you need some space from your child, in or out of recovery, take some space. Time away from the insanity of addiction isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.
  • Don’t feel guilty for putting your needs first. Your needs matter too.
  • For more information, read the Al-Anon FAQ.

Al-anon and Nar-Anon help family members, especially parents, of those living with a substance use disorder to understand better their struggles and how to be a better support resource. The Ranch Pennsylvania can guide you as you navigate this journey. Call 717.969.9126 if you need support or information on a loved one’s substance use disorder.

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