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Families Anonymous is an organization intended to provide support to the family members of those who are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol. The group hosts regular meetings in which people who have family members with addictions can share their thoughts and feelings. The group may also receive counseling from a trained therapist or family counselor on how to cope with negative emotions or actions that may be affecting their lives as a result of their family members’ addictions.
Although the organization’s goal is to help all family members of those with addictions, Families Anonymous groups are typically designed for adult family members, rather than the children or teenage relative of those with addictions. There are often other specialized groups, such as Families Anonymous Teens, for those of younger ages who have relatives struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Keeping the age groups separated is thought to be most beneficial for those attending since the issues they deal with may be much different depending on their age and their relation to the person with the addiction. For example, an adult group may give more advice on parenting, while the teen group may focus on coping with having a parent with an addiction.
It is free to join Families Anonymous and a person can join the group in a variety of ways. If there is a group that meets in his or her local area, someone can attend meetings in person. For those who do not have any local groups, online e-meetings are available, in which members of the group communicate through e-mail, message boards, or online chat groups. A person may also contact the organization headquarters if he or she wishes to start a group of his or her own.
As an organization, Families Anonymous is not officially affiliated with any religious or government groups. The specific format of the meetings may vary depending on the person who is leading the group. Some groups may feel comfortable with advice that has a religious undertone, while other groups may remain completely secular.
One common theme that may be discussed at the group’s meetings is dealing with the negative emotions associated with being related to a person addicted to drugs or alcohol. Some family members may struggle with guilt at not spotting the relative’s addiction problem or allowing it to continue, while others may feel frustration at the relative’s behavior, such as the person stealing money to fund his or her addiction or lying to cover up his or her behavior. Group members may give advice to one another or they may simply be there to help others feel they have someone who understands the situation.