Why Family Support Groups are a Crucial Part of the Treatment Process


Some of the most common questions and comments we at Project Courage get from loved ones of our clients are:

“What’s next for our family?”

“What do we do now?”

“Why did this happen?”

 “What should we expect from treatment?”  

The answers to all these questions are so very important. The question and comment that really strikes us here, though, is this: “I feel so alone, is anyone else going through this?” We can answer with guaranteed certainty - No, you are not alone, and YES, others are going through this too. Whether you are a parent, child, spouse, sibling, friend or someone struggling with addiction, you’re not alone and there are others going through the same thing as you, who are probably wondering if they are alone too!

We hear families say, “I feel so embarrassed, like I’m the only one going through this with my family member. No one talks about these things!”  Shame of feeling “abnormal” or that “something is wrong” with your family or loved one keeps people from talking about this and finding relief with others who are struggling as well. When a loved one is in treatment and struggling with an addiction to alcohol and drugs one of the most therapeutic activities for family members is to participate in a family support group.

There are a few different types and formats of support groups for families, all of which are wonderful and helpful in different ways. 

Our Family Support Group at Project Courage is a “process group”, meaning it is led by a licensed therapist who leads a discussion between group members about addiction, loss, grief, and family difficulties. This group is offered to the public and current PC families. This group offers peer to peer support which leads to increased feelings of comfort and belonging for the members. Family Support Group is helpful whether the family’s loved one is seeking help for their addiction, has been in recovery for a long period of time, or doesn’t fit neatly into any category. Psychoeducation and additional resources are also offered in this group throughout the sessions. This is a safe space where families can feel connected to others and leave feeling less alone. This group is held every Thursday at 6:30-7:30pm at Project Courage.  

We also offer a family psychoeducation group for families of current clients at Project Courage. This runs from 5:30-6:30pm on Tuesdays and gives an overview on brain biology of addiction, key concepts family members need to know to help their loved one, and how to practice self-care. This group is perfect for families of our current clients just starting out in treatment.  

Another very popular group is Al-Anon. According to their literature, “Al-Anon members share their own experience, strength, and hope with each other. You will meet others who share your feelings and frustrations, if not your exact situation. We come together to learn a better way of life, to find happiness whether the alcoholic is still drinking or not.”  Al-Anon has meetings all throughout the world.  

We encourage anyone who is interested in coming to one of our groups to reach out to KC Hespeler, LCSW, Director of Family Services or Liz McCall, CAC, Family Clinician at 860-388-9656 – or just stop by on Thursday nights to our new Family Support Group!  

By: KC Hespeler