Narcotics anonymous family support
Narcotics anonymous family support

OPEN ARMS: Support group for drug ravaged families

The devastating effects of drug addiction on not only the user but on their friends and family inspired a local man to create a support group, which has been running for a decade.

Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) Family Group was founded with the mission to ensure loved ones had the support they needed to navigate the often lonely period of knowing someone with a drug addiction.

Brian Headford founded the group 10 years ago after identifying a lack of support for family and friends through his charity work.

After a slow start, Mr Headford said the group now had a core membership who attended weekly sessions and offered each other support.

"We want to grow the group. We know there's people out there struggling, so we need to get the word out that we exist," Mr Headford said.

Brian Headford founded Townsville's Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) Family Group, a self-help support for family and friends of people with drug addiction. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Brian Headford founded Townsville's Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) Family Group, a self-help support for family and friends of people with drug addiction. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"I used to go to NA meetings as a support person and sometimes there'd be 30 people there.

"When you think about all of their family and friends, we should be getting at least 100."

Mr Headford said those closest to addicts often "have no support and don't know what to do".

"Our aim is to provide a network for those people because they can be forgotten about, but they're the ones dealing with the issue every day," he said.

"We want to show them how they can help and what they can do. That's what this group is all about.

"There's a misconception that with these things you go and air your dirty laundry in public.

"Parents might feel like a failure because their child has become an addict and they don't know how it happened.

"They think they aren't doing enough or aren't doing the right thing.

Brian Headford founded Townsville's Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) Family Group, a self-help support for family and friends of people with drug addiction. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Brian Headford founded Townsville's Narcotics Anonymous (Nar-Anon) Family Group, a self-help support for family and friends of people with drug addiction. Picture: Alix Sweeney

"They can struggle talking about it. But once they realise there are other people going through similar situations the barriers come down."

Mr Headford said the group was not tied to any religion and it opened its doors for everyone.

"People aren't here to judge. It's a great relief for someone to realise there's other people struggling, it's not just them.

"We talk about walking a mile in someone else's shoes; these people have."

The Nar-Anon Family Group meets in room eight of the Ryan Community Centre at Kirwan every Thursday from 7pm.

Originally published as OPEN ARMS: Support group for drug ravaged families


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