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Counseling for grief and addiction
February 17, 2012 7:22 AM   Subscribe

My coworker lost her son to addiction earlier this month, and she has a younger son who also struggles with addiction. She needs counseling for both grief and for dealing with children with addictions. She's not able to find a therapist right now so I told her I would help.

She lives on the South Shore in Massachusetts. I'm not sure how to help her besides listening to her and finding her a therapist. Right now her only plan is to talk to her priest, but it's very clear that she needs more help than that. Can you guys provide a few leads? Or offer some sort of road map for situations like this?

Also, is it out of bounds for me to call the therapist to set something up for her? I'm comfortable doing it but I don't know what the potential pitfalls might be.
posted by pwally to Human Relations (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Darn, sorry . . .

I live on the North Shore and have addiction in my family. I also speak from personal experience.

The single best thing you can do for your coworker is direct her to Al-Anon, which WILL be a jumping-off place for everything else. She will meet many people who have faced every emotion imaginable--and made it through to the other side. She needs to be around others who are or have been in a comparable situation(s).

Everything she could possibly need (and more) will be available to her there. This would be in addition to the therapist.

Do not let the God/Higher Power concept scare her off; AA/NA/Al-Anon, etc. are spiritual programs--not religious.
posted by eggman at 7:31 AM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I attend Nar-Anon, for families of drug addicts. It's the same idea as Al-Anon, but for drugs. We have many families who initially started with a therapist and the therapists told them Nar-Anon would help them much more effectively than individual or family therapy. Plus, it's free. Here's a list of Massachusetts meetings.

I don't know what her religious inclination is, but a lot of people are turned off by the "spiritual" aspect of the 12 steps. I am an atheist (and not one who says things like "but I'm a spiritual person" - I'm just a straight up atheist) and I've still found the meetings so, so helpful.

There will be so many people there who are exactly where she is right now. I can't recommend it highly enough.
posted by something something at 7:35 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, if she's nervous about going to a meeting - and most of us are, intially - it is totally okay for you to go with her. All are welcome.
posted by something something at 7:36 AM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Something something and I are on the same page, obviously.

Also, don't get too caught up on Nar-Anon vs. Al-Anon. Most addicts go to AA and alcoholics to NA--AA or Al-Anon is more convenient for many because there are many more meetings to choose from . . .

Additionally you might also conctact a grief support group through this PDF/link which is specific to family members of addicts.
posted by eggman at 7:40 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nthing what everyone has said about Al-Anon and Nar-Anon.
posted by mareli at 7:51 AM on February 17, 2012


Yeah if you live close to her I'd suggest being available to go to a meeting or even three with her. Sometimes the toughest part about the meetings is finding one you click with and the South Shore is a really varied area so you might want to try a few. She doesn't even have to say anything but sometimes sitting and listening to the stuff other people are dealing with can help you feel less alone. The saddest part about having people with addiction in your life is that it feels like your own private un-understandable pain and then you realize that the things you've experienced in your life are sometimes sadly typical. The meetings are good jumping off places to make connections (therapy, activity partners, sober events) for other things as well, and I'd say the same is true for her church/priest.
posted by jessamyn at 8:08 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


btw, people often confuse Nar-Anon with Narconon. The former is what you're looking for -- the latter is Scientology-owned.
posted by changeling at 8:41 AM on February 17, 2012


Nthing Al anon--Jessamyn and the other posters are right--I ran a large community mental health organization that included chemical dependency services, I also had a private practice as a therapist for 25+ years--When I discovered my youngest daughter was chemically dependent (and almost died 3 times) nothing was a helpful as Al Anon--go with some one, find the group that works and keep on going. BTW, through a combination of AA, the right medication and a lot of work she has been sober 5 years.
posted by rmhsinc at 9:54 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


GRASP, Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing, was founded by people I know, parents who lost a child to addiction. This is exactly why they exist. Please reach out to them, and see if they have a group in your area. I'm so sorry for your co-workers loss.
posted by gingerbeer at 3:12 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


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