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Updated on December 2, 2022

Nar-Anon (Al-Anon for Drugs)

What is Nar-Anon?

Nar-Anon is a support group that provides 12-step program services for family therapy. It focuses on a spiritual way of life and the assistance of a higher power to help them recover from addiction.

The treatment program provides a list of 20 questions to understand if the program is suitable for you. If you answer yes to at least four of the following questions, Nar-Anon may be suitable for you. 

Some of the questions include the following:

  • Is it becoming hard for you to believe your loved one’s explanations? 
  • Are your savings mysteriously disappearing? 
  • Are you becoming more reluctant to invite friends to your house? 
  • Are you unable to talk about the situation with friends and relatives due to embarrassment?

Who Can Attend Nar-Anon Meetings?

Anyone who is a friend or family member of a narcotic addict can go to a Nar-Anon meeting. The 12 steps are similar to the Narcotics Anonymous 12 steps, except for some slight phrasing changes. 

Members can provide support and advice to help deal with friends or relatives with abuse problems. You can learn some of the best ways to encourage a loved one to seek addiction treatment from Nar-Anon.

Types of Nar-Anon Meetings

There are various types of Nar-Anon meetings. During a speaker meeting, one or more speakers share their personal experiences in detail. There are also step meetings, which go over a more detailed study of the twelve steps.

  • Speaker meetings: involves one or more speakers sharing their experiences in detail
  • Step meetings: meetings where they go over the twelve steps
  • Beginner meetings: meetings geared toward newcomers
  • Business meetings: meetings where the group’s business matters are discussed
  • Group conscience meetings: meetings to provide an introspective look at the health of Nar-Anon meetings

Group conscience meetings are often planned after members fill out a survey noting what is going well and what can be improved. Any adjustments or introductions of new treatment programs would be part of a group conscious meeting.

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What is the Main Difference Between Nar-Anon and Al-Anon?

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon were established to help the loved ones of people suffering from substance use disorders (SUD). The main difference between the two is the type of substance they tackle.

Al-Anon was designed to help family members and friends of alcoholics. Meanwhile, Nar-Anon helps the loved ones of people suffering from drug addiction problems.

Both organizations provide a 12-step program to aid people who have a friend or relative with SUD. They offer group support, advice, and tools to help families and friends deal with the negative effects of addiction. They also have similar meeting structures.

What to Expect in Nar-Anon & Al-Anon Meetings

Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings can help you find closure in your situation. These organizations provide a welcoming support network to help you understand your feelings regarding a loved one's addiction.

These support groups meet at least once a week, and each session lasts an hour. However, you can join other groups to go to a meeting every day.

There are no membership fees involved in attending a meeting. Any resources, such as tools and literature, are optional. They also have free literature to help you deal with your addicted loved one.

If you want to speak during a meeting, there are a few common ground rules:

  • No swearing
  • Maintain the privacy of your addicted loved one
  • First name basis only
  • No discussion or disclosure of meetings to non-members
  • Be respectful and supportive

If you attend a meeting, it’s your choice whether or not to share your story. You can attend as many meetings as you like to listen to other people in similar situations.

Benefits of Nar-Anon & Al-Anon for Families

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon members benefit from meeting other people and families who have suffered from alcoholism and drug addiction. Although every individual is different, Al-Anon and Nar-Anon family group members have similar and relatable experiences in their struggles.

Other benefits of Al-Anon and Nar-Anon include:

  • Anonymity: Complete anonymity can help people express themselves more openly
  • An understanding of addiction: They can provide insight into what your loved one is going through
  • A strong support network: These organizations can help build a strong support system and community
  • Self-discovery: Nar-Anon and Al-Anon can help you find a way to move forward from your loved one's addiction
  • Reflection and introspection: They can help you understand your feelings and frustration regarding your loved one's addiction
  • Accessibility: Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings are available nationwide

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How Does Addiction Impact Families?

Addiction can have a direct impact on your family's health and well-being. It can cause immense damage to your personal well-being and relationships.

People dealing with a loved one struggling with addiction can face a multitude of issues. It can cause a rift between you and your family. It can even cause trust issues leading to estrangement or divorce.

Other issues caused by addiction include:

  • Emotional damage
  • Mental health problems
  • Legal issues
  • Financial issues
  • Medical problems

How to Handle a Loved One’s Drug or Alcohol Addiction

It's important to understand that you are not responsible for your loved one's addiction. You also can't fix it.

Although there is no concrete answer on how to handle their struggles with addiction. There are ways to deal or cope with the situation.

If you have a friend or family member who is addicted to drugs or alcohol you should consider the following:

  • Keep your family safe: Ensure the safety of vulnerable family members such as children, the elderly, and pets
  • Set health boundaries: Set clear-cut rules and expectations because you can't always handle them
  • Do not enable them: Avoid making excuses for their behavior or ignoring their addiction
  • Restrict access to money: This can help prevent them from buying the substance they're addicted to
  • Plan for emergencies: Make sure you can call friends, family, and medical support in case of emergencies
  • Encourage treatment: Talk to them about seeking treatment, especially if therapy hasn't been effective
  • Prioritize self-care: Make sure you're exercising, eating healthy, and taking care of your well-being
  • Seek therapy or a support group: going to Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, individual therapy, or other support groups can help you cope with their addiction

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How to Find an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon Meeting

Al-Anon and Nar-Anon meetings take place globally, so chances are you can find a gathering near you. 
The easiest way to find an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting is to visit the An-Anon or Nar-On meetings websites at al-anon.org/al-anon-meetings/find-an-al-anon-meeting/ and nar-anon.org/find-a-meeting. There you can read about the different types of sessions available and can find something suitable for you.

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Summary

Nar-Anon is a support group for families. They use a 12-step program to support people with drug-addicted friends or family members.

Although Nar-Anon is similar to Al-Anon, they tackle different addictions. Al-Anon is designed to help families with alcoholic relatives. Nar-Anon focuses on helping families with drug-addicted relatives.

Both organizations provide support, advice, and tools to help you deal with a loved one struggling with substance use disorders. Nar-Anon meetings are also open to anyone struggling with a drug-addicted loved one.

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