Help For Families Impacted By Addiction

When a family member is struggling with addiction, everyone suffers.

Shame, guilt, fear and isolation. These are just a few of the emotions that come with addiction. "Everything the addict feels, the family feels," according to Irene Sherlock, LMFT and an addiction counselor at MCCA.

Sherlock runs a weekly group called How to Cope for family members that have been impacted by a loved one's addiction and she has seen how devastating this disease is to families. "People have no place to go with these feelings and they almost always feel they are the only one's going through it."

“How to Cope provided an opportunity for me to talk, listen and learn in a safe, comfortable environment. I finally felt like it wasn’t just my husband and I living with addiction.” J.P., Ridgefield

How to Cope provides a safe, supportive environment for family members to share their feelings and learn about the disease of addiction. This seven week course provides guidance, support and a road map for families to start the recovery process.

When a family member or loved one is addicted, it puts tremendous stress on everyone. Adding to the stress, is the embarrassment and shame that often keeps people from seeking help.

Sherlock has also seen how depleted couples become when they have a child that is dealing with addiction. "All of their resources are going into helping their child, there is nothing left for the relationship and it almost always suffers."

Launched in Ridgefield two years ago, close to 100 families have benefited from How to Cope and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. This program differs from Al-Anon in that there are seven focused sessions run by a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who specializes in treating addiction.

Participants are given the support and skills to help them move forward in a positive direction. Setting and establishing boundaries is a key element of the program.

 “How to Cope put my son’s addiction in an understandable context and reminded us to think about and protect our own needs.” H.T., Wilton

When family members and friends begin to take charge and reconstruct their own lives, the addicted person often begins to seek help. For some families, participating in How to Cope proved to be a turning point for them and the family member who was dealing with addiction.

Because the groups are small and confidential, participants are free to open up and share with each other. For many, this is the first time they are able to talk about the pain and struggle of having an addicted family member.

The next sessions of How to Cope start on Thursday, April 23rd at 6pm in Danbury. The groups are small, private and confidential and meet in the evenings.

Contact Irene Sherlock by email at: isherlock@mccaonline.com or call at 203-456-0528.


Need-based financial assistance is available.


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