It is vital that loved ones of addicts and alcoholics regularly attend addiction family support groups. It is not only the addict or alcoholic who benefits from attending support groups. In order to really understand the disease of addiction and to learn what constitutes enabling, it is critical that close friends and families of addicts in or out of treatment take advantage of support groups.

addiction family support groups

Top 3 Reasons to Attend Addiction Family Support Groups


The disease of addiction is complicated to understand and to deal with. Good support groups will use experts or expert resources to educate you about the facts around the nature of addiction as a brain disease. Support groups will help you understand the you didn’t cause the addiction and that you can’t control or cure it [hyperlink to 5Cs].

Support groups should teach you about the cause of addiction as interplay of genetics, environmental factors, past experiences and mental health. It will also explain that addiction is a progressive illness that will only get worse without treatment. Addiction education will also teach you what substances are abused and how they are used. It will teach you how to tell if your loved one is using or had relapsed. It will also give you information about how substances affect the brain and body in the short- and long-term as well as the usual consequences that go alongside addiction.

Addiction education will also include the need for treatment and will explain the different aspects included in professional and effective addiction treatment. Education will also include how prevalent addiction is in society and the different societal factors that drive the increase in rates of substance use disorders.

Family disease, boundaries and self-care

Support groups will explain to loved ones of addicts that addiction is a family disease. It is not only the addict or alcoholic who is affected but also everyone they come into contact with, especially those closest to them. As the addiction progresses so does the negative impact on the family.

Families of addicts need to realise that recovery for the addict is an ongoing process they will engage in for the rest of their lives. Family members needs to know what this entails. An addicted person has a better chance of long-term recovery if their families and support system is involved every step of the way.

Boundaries are one of the most important tools to help addicted loved ones as well as families. Boundaries teach addicted persons that there are consequences to their actions and that their bad behaviour will no longer be tolerated. In short – boundaries help addicted persons stay on track and in recovery. Boundaries also help loved ones start putting themselves first and practicing self-care and, as a result, regaining their independence and sanity.

3. Therapeutic space

It is normal for family members of an addict to feel confused, angry and helpless. Support groups can help families of addicts deal with these emotions in healthy ways.

Support groups are a safe and therapeutic space for families to connect and share with others who can relate to their feelings and circumstances. They can help family members realise they are not alone and do not need to continue to suffer by themselves in silence. Just as the addict needs support and support groups so do loved ones and families.

The Changes Addiction Family Support Groups

The Changes addiction family support groups happen once-a-week and is open to the public, not only to family members of people in Changes’ care. It is a powerful, constructive and non-judgemental therapeutic space. Families learn and share with each other with the help of a trained facilitator.

Facilitators change week-by-week and include psychiatrists, psychologists, addictions counsellors, social workers, occupational therapists as well as recovering addicts and families of recovering addicts.  

Email [email protected] to receive updates on the weekly meeting held on Zoom.

Other 12-Step Addiction Family Support Groups Include:

  1. Al-Anon –
  2. Co-Anon –
  3. Nar-Anon –

Addiction family support groups in Johannesburg are an important part of addiction treatment as addiction doesn’t occur in a vacuum and is a family disease. Family support groups give loved ones support, therapy and useful tools to support an addicts recovery instead of play into their addiction.

For more information and family support, contact us today.