Families Anonymous: A 12-Step Support Group for Families

Why am I here at this support group for families? I’m not the one with the problem! Jenna’s the one staying out all night and lying to Mom and Dad — causing fights — tearing our family apart.

Besides, I’ve been living on my own for years now — so why does her behavior affect me so much? She just…

Kelly’s thoughts were interrupted as someone (the group leader, she assumed) asked everyone to take a seat so they could get started. It was Kelly’s first Families Anonymous meeting. Her heart was racing with anxiety, anger, and a slew of other emotions she couldn’t even name.

I’m at the end of my rope. None of my friends understand what I’m going through. None of their kids has ever had a drug problem.

I have no one I can really talk to. I hope this Families Anonymous thing is as helpful as my doctor said…

Anna’s internal conversation was also interrupted by the leader’s call to start the meeting.

She looked for a place where she could sign in and pay but didn’t see one.

Instead, she saw a letter addressed to newcomers, grabbed a copy, and took a seat.

I hope they don’t expect me to spill my guts. I’m not sure I could even explain why I’m here without crying like a baby. I don’t want to do that in a room full of strangers.

But I need something. I don’t know how to handle him anymore. He’s my father, but I’m the one taking care of him.

I’m a grown man — I should be focused on my own kids — but instead, I’m always cleaning up his gambling addiction messes. If only he would…

Jim didn’t have a chance to finish the thought, as the Families Anonymous meeting got started. He grabbed the chair nearest the door, in case he needed to make a quick exit from this support group for families.

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Families Anonymous: More Than Just a Support Group for Families

Over the next 90 minutes, several people shared their experiences — some successes, some failures. Everyone was there because they had a relative or friend whose addiction and behavior were affecting their lives.

One woman’s story about her brother made Kelly realize she was in the right place after all. And something that the woman said made Kelly realize how she had been enabling her sister’s habits. The leader mentioned that their next meeting would focus on communication. Kelly thought that would be a good one to attend.

At one point, the leader asked Jim simply, “What’s your first name?” and “Would you like to say anything or ask any questions about the program?” Jim quickly responded with his name and a short, “No” and then breathed a sigh of relief as the leader moved on to the next person.

He discovered there was absolutely no pressure to share. He could listen and come back another time if he wanted to — or not. No obligations. No last names. Whew!

When Anna was asked if she wanted to share, she jumped at the opportunity. As her struggles with her son’s drug use spilled out of her, she felt a weight lifting. From what she had heard already, these people would get it.

Coming here, learning about the Families Anonymous 12 Traditions and 12 Steps, and working through those with others who understood — that was just what she needed. And, this family support group was free!

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The Benefits of Families Anonymous

These three discovered what thousands of others across the U.S. have found at Families Anonymous: much-needed support. With no formal enrollment, no fees, and no last names, the program truly is anonymous.

And with a fellowship of people who are all struggling with how their loved one’s problems are affecting them — it turned out to be just what each of these individuals needed.

Before she left, Kelly got the phone number of the woman whose brother sounded a lot like Jenna.

Anna picked up a copy of FA’s 12 Promises, which she was looking forward to seeing come true in her life.

Jim still had some questions, so he grabbed a pamphlet that answered the FAQ on Families Anonymous.

Despite each of their anxieties about coming, they were all glad they attended and decided to come again to the next meeting. The leader had said that this program could get them to a better place in life and “It works if you work it, and it won’t work if you don’t!” — so they were gonna work it.

If you or someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, help is available, call 877-640-2220 Who Answers? .

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